Why Sunday mornings are always a fiasco, I don’t know. But sometimes I get the sneaking suspision there might be a force against my attempts to get to church.
Cohen had a rough night Saturday (but got that second tooth in! yeah!) so we slept in a little later than usual. I got him up, washed, and dressed him and hopped into the shower myself. Now since he’s into everything, I usually set him (along with some favorite toys) in the bathroom with me and close the door. I peek out of the shower and play a little game with him while I am shampooing to make sure he’s not into anything. I kept having to get him out of the lower cabinet and then reminded myself to move everything out of it as soon as possible. The third time I peeked out, my boy was playing in the toilet. No joke. I jumped out of the shower, got his hands out, stripped him down again, and put him in the shower with me. I was so disgusted, it was all I could do not to scrub him down with Lysol. After I had washed him up, we got out. Which, if you have never tried to get out of the shower with a slippery, chubby baby and somehow get the both of you dried off without completely soaking the bathroom floor, I have no words to accurately describe the debacle to you! *grin* I got dressed, dried my hair, put on enough make up to look human and got Cohen dressed and in his car seat. I started the car and then went to let the dogs out quickly. I let the puppies out first and put them up and then let the adult dogs out. Since the area is fenced, I went back in to tend to Cohen, who was screaming about the car seat restraints. I no more get him calmed and in the car, when I realize: the dogs have escaped! Sawyer, usually the rotten one, was still in the enclosure, but Jetti and Tucker were across the field sniffing around the barn. I called for them and they looked up lazily and then continued sniffing. I ran in and got treats, but still they refused to come. So, in the snow, in my church clothes, I traipsed across the field and lured them back into the house. Finally, all the dogs were safe in the house, and I got back into the car now ten minutes late for church. My relief was met with a horrible smell… you only have to be a mom for about ten minutes to be able to smell when your child has not only gone to the bathroom, but completely soiled their clothes. Sure enough, Cohen had messed his pants so bad that even in the car seat, he had managed to get it in his hair. If it hadn’t been so disgusting, it might have been amazing. I will spare you the details, but suffice it to say, he had another shower and another new set of clothes and we got to church at 10:40, 40 minutes late.
I thought about not going but I am so glad I fought through the ohmygosh-everyone-is-already-seated-and-i-have-walk-in-late fear and made it in time to hear the Word of the Lord.
Have you ever heard a sermon and felt like someone had been reading your mail? I mean, it was comparable to that old Fugee’s song “Killing Me Softly” where Miss Lauryn Hill sings:
I felt all flushed with fever
Embarrased by the crowd,
I felt he found my letters and read each one out loud,
Pastor Ricks was teaching on how God sees through the storms in our lives into our future. And that while often we want an answer about the storm and how it will resolve, God just bypasses it and speaks life into what will be. He taught from Luke 27, a passage I am sure I had read before, although it seemed unfamiliar.
Paul is getting ready to sail for Rome and he boards a ship and tells the people on it that he feels like heading out right then would be dangerous. The men on the ship listen to the owner of the ship instead, a man who sees the soft winds of right now and doesn’t see into the future, the way Paul has. A few days into the journey, a storm whips up called a “northeaster” or “Euroclydon”…its the kind of storm where winds are coming from all directions…the King of Storms on the sea, we might say. Everyone is fearing for their lives. An angel comes to Paul and tells him that no one will perish, despite the fact that they didn’t listen to his warning. The next part of the chapter talks about the shipwreck…the part of the story most of us are probably familiar with. Pastor focused on the fact the message from God was about the future: everyone will live, instead of the present: there will be a shipwreck.
He shared a lot of other things too…but that nailed me right between the eyes. My life right now is in the middle of a Euroclydon sort of storm…every direction I look, it seems like winds are whipping up. I feel tossed by the waves and unable to see any shore from the ship. I am an analyzer, so its been so very hard for me to just ride the turbulence of the waves and hope for a better end. I have been (instead) anxious and not sleeping and full of worry and angst and frustration and depression. As Pastor spoke and I chased Cohen around in the aisle and worked hard at listening, I realized what I really needed was for God to speak into the future of what will be in my life. I need to know that even if there is a shipwreck, that somehow we’ll be able to hold on to some driftwood and make it ashore alive…maybe a little bruised up, but alive.
Monday as I drove to my first day of work with my first client (more about this in a later post), I felt urged to call Pastor. He’s such a gentle soul and he always answers his phone and has time to counsel you, but I always feel nervous about dialing. I did it a few times before I pushed “send” and waited to hear his voice on the other end. As soon as he asked me how I was, I just spilled my guts about the rage boiling just under the surface of my skin and my battle with depression and some of the specific winds blowing hard against me and how much I need to know about life on the other side. Pastor patiently listened and then began to share some things with me that have literally opened my eyes and changed my insides in the last 24 hours.
I appreciate the tender way he never focused too long on what wrong has been done, but I appreciate more that he had practical answers for my situation of being angry and depressed and hating it, but not knowing how to deal with it. I mean, have any of you ever gotten to the place in life where you realize you believe in forgiveness and healing and surrender and know all of the Scripture concerning it, but then realize you don’t know how to actually do it…? I have so been there recently.
He took me through some Scriptures I was familiar with and although none of it was rocket science, I felt a little light bulb go off in my heart. Pastor explained the way that sin (either that we do or that is done against us) creates a vulnerability that the Enemy can attack. No Believer can be possessed, certainly, but we can oppressed…think:
To keep down by severe and unjust use of force or authority: a people who were oppressed by tyranny.
To weigh heavily on: Poverty oppresses the spirit.
Obsolete To overwhelm or crush.
As he spoke the Truth to me, I knew the hurts and sins that had opened up areas of my life to attack. It was like God used his words to pull back the curtain and suddenly I could see how everything in my life is playing out. I knew at that moment, I had to be willing to do whatever it required to remove the feelings and emotions of the Enemy I had taken on as my own. You see, when the Enemy presses in, he wants us as believers to feel his feelings for him. He’s angry. He’s unforgiving. He’s jealous. He’s vindictive. He’s afraid. And as a child of God, being renewed day by day, rage really has no place in my life…no matter what pain I have sustained. Is it wrong to be angry? No, but the Bible commands that we should not sin in our anger…rage goes beyond that. Pastor just encouraged me to really consider what emotions were my own and what emotions I was taking on and feeling and struggling with that were not mine. We talked through the ever-familiar James 4 passage:
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded
We talked about what it means to submit and resist. He assured me that the Enemy pressed down on me, overwhelming me had to go when God draws near. We talked about washing our hands (what we do) and purifying our hearts (what we believe) and giving up the double mindedness. And you know what? I have been double minded. I have been talking out of both sides of my mouth… saying I know God is sovereign and loving, and then staying up at night restlessly worrying about bills.
We prayed a simple but real prayer and I meant it wholeheartedly as I asked God to forgive my anger and hopelessness and lack of trust and said the words “I submit myself to You” and then I called my rage and depression and anxiety just what they’ve become: SIN. I told the Enemy I won’t feel his frustrations for him and told him to go.
I have always been a proponent of “there’s more to things that just a simple prayer”, but you know what? When I opened my eyes, I felt the weight lift off of my chest. I felt something in me soften and it occurred to me within minutes that I felt like myself again. I went in and met with my client and felt a level of compassion for this drug addicted mom that I wouldn’t have believed was possible the day before.
I went to bed last night and slept soundly and woke up this morning for the first time in 6 months without a single nightmare. In fact, I was dreaming about a huge praise service and all I remember about it now was that I fell on my face in worship without any hesitation and it was so striking and wonderful that even in my dream I made note of it. I woke up at 7 and felt like I had slept. I got up and didn’t have a bit of trouble getting on with the day. When Cohen woke up, I just snuggled and squeezed him without one iota of anxiety robbing me of the experience of his baby soft skin and milky breath.
I am still in the middle of a storm and I feel like there very well may be a shipwreck of sort in my future. I don’t think all things are good, but I do believe that God works all things FOR good to those who love Him and are called according to His purposes…and you know what? I do and I am.
I know the press is going to come back and now I am not afraid to really cry out for God’s help, because now I believe that when I submit to God and resist the urges of the Enemy he does actually have to flee. I think I can almost feel my faith growing.
In the midst of inconvenience and the messiness of life, I am really glad I heard a Word from God Sunday morning…because you know what? I was more starving than I had previously realized.