You know what? I think one of Satan's biggest tools is to try and make us feel isolated - like we are the only ones feeling a certain way, or walking through a certain valley. And then, when he has us in this place of isolation, he'll make us feel more desolate by whispering to us that it's going to be like this forever. Well, I have a few choice words for him, that's for sure.
I'm sick of it! Sick of his lies, sick of his cunning. It frustrates me most that he's watched me so closely and knows me so well that it works! I believe him, too often.
But I'm done. God help me, I will not take that bait anymore.
My friend came over two nights ago, essentially unannounced, and found me in a bad state. I've been walking through a valley for the past few weeks, and I was pretty bummed. He came in and sat with me and listened to me talk for a while. And then he spoke - and when he did I heard the voice of the Lord. Let me pause here for a moment. My recent prayers have been pleadings to God that he would no longer hide his face from me. When my friend came over unexpectedly and began to speak truth, I was so romanced... by God! It was a very personal thing for me. He knew exactly what I needed, and he provided it to me so clearly, in the form of this sweet man!
Moving on, I want to share some of his wisdom. Not long ago, he found himself in a valley as well. He'd read a lot of the same psalms I've been reading, he was at a low point, but he offered me the following, some precious trinkets of encouragement:
First of all, even in the psalms, like Psalm 13, when David is crying out, asking how long the Lord will turn away from him, that in the end... he rejoices. He praises God because of the joy of his salvation. The worst evil is not the pain in my circumstance, but rather separation from God - and I am saved from that! The loving kindness of God is still as powerful.
Second of all, it's easy to get caught up in what's going on in my own life - the hardships, the affliction, whatever - and forget about everything else. But that's never how we're called to live. I should be a servant, in every circumstance. I'm not good at that. I tend to give my stinky circumstances permission to run rampant. I'm learning to remind myself that situations don't dictate my joy, God's calling on my life, nor my identity. I'm learning to reclaim the ground that's been taken from me, in the name of the Lord.
And here's the biggest thing, the thing that hit home: not allowing circumstances to steal my joy. This is my battle. This is where I've been asking the Lord to fight for me. This is where I've been claiming Exodus 14:14, which says, "The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent." My friend explained it this way: when you value something, you can often times subconsciously allow your heartstrings to intertwine little by little into this thing. And when this thing goes up - well, you do, too, and all is well. But when this thing goes down, you fall along with it. Sometimes our low points come when the Lord has to clip those heartstrings away from things where they don't belong. Which is everything, minus one. The only One who deserves all of our affections, all of our devotion, all of our heartstrings, the fountain of all of our joy. Sometimes, he must clip them away before they have time to really take hold, in order to protect us from future pain. And yes, it is painful, but it must be done.
I guess this valley has been a rebuilding process for me. I've had my heartstrings clipped, but they are where they belong. They might sting a little, and I'm still being tested daily. But my heart will sing no other name than Jesus. It takes the fire to get us here, sometimes. But what a precious place to be. In the beatitudes, we see certain circumstances that Jesus calls blessed. They are blessed because they have nothing else to hold on to. They are at the end of their ropes. THAT, my friends, THAT place is where we encounter God for real. THAT is the blessing.
So, I don't know if, at the end of this journey, the things that I valued will still be there for me to delight in again, while still keeping all of my heartstrings wrapped around my God, or if there will be new joys gifted to me. Either way, I know that in the end, I will love him more, and what a treasure that is.
April Financial Update
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