Tuesday, January 20, 2015

2015: The Year of Prayer - Week 3

Here's the short version of Week 3 in the 2015 Year of Prayer:
Focus on the strength of God, not your own weakness. 
I'm painfully aware this is not earth-shattering revelation, as much as I like to have those.  Seems the Lord is sending me back to the basics of the faith, rather than promote me to graduate school. (No doubt that is to deal with my pride.) As Beth Moore famously said in Psalms of Ascent, "The way up in God's economy is down."  To really live something, you have to go back to the basics.  So, I'm on the ground floor - going up, please.

This truth has stood the test of time, since Paul wrote the words God spoke to him,

My Strength is Made Perfect in your weakness. (2 Cor 12:9)

It is a core belief of the Christian faith as well as a bedrock of Scripture.  We must decrease in order for Jesus to increase.  I've physically felt better this week, which is nice, but a few times last week, I was still limping along. I leaned hard into this whole My Yoke is Easy and My Burden in Light business Dr. Dennis called out a few Saturdays back.  

For real, this week has been about putting that truth into practice. Thankfully, I has not been as difficult as I secretly suspected it would be.

I've known for a good few years now that my feelings are only the triggers of something deeper.

When my nose is out of joint (so to speak), it is an indication the problem isn't completely with the person who knocked it that way.  When my feelings - specifically of frustration, irritation and most recently, jealousy, surface - I've treated it as an opportunity to converse with the Lord.  Lately, I start the conversation with, "Lord, this is most definitely NOT easy right now."

It helps me to admit things to Him out loud, if I have the space to do so.  It is an act of breathing in fresh air; like opening a window when you've accidentally overcooked popcorn.  There are times when my feelings/thoughts just sound so ridiculous when I speak them out, I have to laugh.  In that laughter, my mental clarity is reset. The joy we find in truth realized is often what we need to wipe away the cobwebs of our emotions, expectations and intentions that distract us.

Not that all emotions are bad. They are God-given. The process of venting them has been shown to have great physical benefit. We just have to vent in healthy ways - and prayer (or straight-up talking to God) should be one of those ways.

This week I've discovered I have to be honest about being human.  To deny my humanity is to focus on my own strength. When I don't admit I'm human and I have weakness, I depend solely on my own (human) strength. Yet, when I see myself for who I am, a regular person, or better put: a creature, not the Creator; shows me I need help because I am weak.  I cannot do the things God can do!! I cannot force them into existence!

I have to let Him do that. Seeing my weakness for what it is gives me eyes to see a glimpse of how strong the Lord really is. Usually, a glimpse of His strength is all I need.  There is certainly day-to-day (sometimes minute-by-minute) drudgery. Laundry still must be done, diapers must be changed, homework must be completed and dinner must be on the table so the troops don't plot an uprising.  But there is freedom in that too. 

The Lord put me where I am and the only priorities I must have are the ones He gives me.  I don't have to lay man-made burdens on my shoulders.  I'm strong but I'm not as strong in myself as when I am in Christ.

It has simply been a week of taking a step back when I can feel things getting too heavy. I can actually feel it, in my body like when I've been clenching my arm too hard around Ella and the tendons in my elbows are straining to keep up.  When I feel a cramp coming on, I just put whatever I'm carrying down. There have been times when that has literally been Ella.

Other times it has been trying to pray health into myself. Last Wednesday, I let my precious sister Moseka pray healing into me and it was so easy, I nearly fell over. She had to catch me before I toppled over backwards because of the ease of which she prayed it in.

I got the opportunity to run outside at lunch today. Exercise has long been a vehicle of self-condemnation, but before Christmas, I got freed of that for good. I just stopped doing it unless it was obvious it wasn't going to mess with my head (and body).  Today, waiting on that release paid off.  It is glorious here in Houston and I was just so joyful as I jogged along. No strain and no negative self-talk because I was where I was supposed to be.

Then, I started listening to a song by NeedtoBreathe called "Keep Your Eyes Open."

As I neared my car, the Lord opened the lyrics up to me. It was Him speaking the words into my heart - continuing to instruct me how to walk with His Light Yoke on.  I included the video for it at the end of the post.

'Cause if you never leave home, never let go
You'll never make it to the great unknown
Till you keep your eyes... Open, my love.

So show me your fire, show me your heart
You know I'll never let you fall apart
If you keep your eyes... Open, my love.

The key to not getting tripped up by my own weakness is to keep my eyes open for God's strength. His Love is more powerful than any other force, it holds our bodies together. God's Love keeps the planets in orbit. He delights in His creation and we are a big part of that.

There is no shortage of seeing Him at work, seeing His strength manifested in my life and the lives of others. It is easy to see when I keep my eyes open. It only gets hard when I look at myself, to my own strength to do the things He wants to do.  

So, to close this week out, keep your focus on the strength of God. Keep your eyes open for what He is doing and when He is doing it.  And keep praying. It is early in the year yet friends, there is still so much more to see!!!

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