Monday, February 13, 2012

Trading Anxiety for Peace

This morning it is early as I write this, I mean EARLY! At this hour the rooster is still snoring and the Sun is still way beyond the horizons view, but yet....I am awake. My anxious thoughts invaded my dream and woke me up out of a perfect slumber, so now here I sit, bible in hand, meditating on what feels today like the most challenging scripture I've read in a long while.  

Phil 4:6-7 is a very familiar scripture to most Christians. One that is very pleasant to read when you are not facing trials or big life changes, but it is during these very times that we need it most. This morning I am lead to it again.

"Do NOT be anxious about ANYTHING, but in EVERYTHING by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all your understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." 

Sometimes I read this and feel like I should be skipping around in a world that rains lollipops and daisies while  I sing this verse and chase butterflies, but ideal as that world seems, it was meant for THIS world, and for me, in all life's turmoil which God foresaw. When there are multiple worries with multiple outcomes, how do we submit them to God in thankfulness and prayer? Today that is my honest question. Reading on it becomes even more mind-boggling. That once we submit our worries and anxieties to Christ he instead gives us peace that GUARDS our hearts and minds? Talk about a GOOD trade-in deal.

I can't help but think about all the past times we have tried to trade a vehicle in at a dealership crossing our fingers for the best possible price, but instead only getting a SHOCKINGLY LOW number that seemed like if we sold the vehicle for parts we would get a better deal...this is NOT the kind of trade-in value Paul is talking about in this verse. God's trade-ins are NEVER FAIR, they are always so far above the lowest price it would be like trading a rusty old 80's Honda for a 2012 Luxury SUV. His trades are always exceedingly selfless, and always give us the better deal, always. 

That's what trading in our anxiety for peace is as well. Who else could possibly provide us peace when we hand over our deepest worry or anxious fear? Only Christ.

Today I am faced with many scenarios that I can choose to play over and over, worries that I can repeat until they keep me up at night and cause me stomach aches.....OR I can thankfully, and prayerfully offer each of them to God...and then in return, He will offer me peace to GUARD both my heart and my mind from any thought that tries to steal them back. I think that sounds like the deal of the century. 

So, this is my challenge today. Anyone want to join me? 

Friday, February 3, 2012

A heart of PRE-Confession

We have all heard (and probably used) the saying, "ask forgiveness not permission", but I have often wondered what does God really think about this concept? I think the idea of using and abusing GRACE to cover up pre-mediated sin is uh, sketchy at best...but yet we do it, and I have been guilty of that many times. Now, I am not trying to get into a big debate on, "can we as Christian's really ABUSE Grace from God?", but the point I am trying to make is more about this idea of pre-meditated sin. When it goes un-confessed to God or others God has placed in our lives it ultimately will only grow, fester and justify itself in our hearts and leave us with blood on our hands in the end. 

Through my Recovery Program at church confession is a huge part of the two hour evening. What you are struggling with that week is usually brought to light as a part of your introduction at the start of the evening. What a contrast to the real world right? Imagine if you were just meeting someone and said, "Hi, my name is Nicole and I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ who is currently struggling with self-control and comparison issues, nice to meet you". I think that person would run for her life out of fear that she would "catch" whatever virus I had! LOL! But isn't that how God want us to be? 

This week, God proved this point to me big time. For the last 5 or 6 days I have been pondering, obsessing, and justifying a program that a good friend of mine started to lose weight this last week. It's a physician run program (therein lies my justification) and is has a guarantee for weight-loss using normal grocery foods. Now, anyone who has read my FIRST BLOG would know that this was in direct contradiction to what God spoke to me last month...but the more I thought, obsessed and justified I had almost convinced myself that it wasn't really a "diet plan". Sound crazy? YES! That is how SIN works in our lives. 

After going to recovery class on Monday, knowing this was taking root in my heart, even to the point of planning my "cover-up" for the money spent, time away and meal plan...I knew that if I didn't confess soon I would be in direct disobedience to God. Being in this same place many times before I can humbly say, this was one of the first times I recognized the pull of isolation which leads to sin. I was in it...for 6 days. 

Wednesday night I blurted out to my husband in a moment of sheer desperation (and pure guts) that I needed to talk to him. He quickly muted the television as he saw on my face this wasn't a light conversation I wanted to have with him. I had one of those out of body experiences then. Like I could actually see my spirit and my flesh fighting as I started to confess my plan to defy and justify what I knew God had asked of me this year. I confessed my isolation, my obsessive thoughts, and the hope that was quietly creeping up inside knowing that I was just around the corner from being able to "control" something again. As I spoke quickly looking at the floor avoiding eye contact with him (shameful of my thoughts) I finally glanced up to see him... smiling. Not a laughing-at-you smile, but a sweet, sincere, loving smile. He was beaming with love for me. He told me to look at how far I had come knowing that just months before I would have hidden this, covered it up and asked forgiveness later. But not this time....this time, I knew the power of confession before sin. 

Later, I had the realization that just like Tim smiling with pride at the progress of my journey...God must feel 100 times more than that when we turn from our sin. The consequences of ignoring His voice to hear our own only results is our future inability to hear him. That tiny pull, that small voice, that feeling that won't leave us alone when we are pre-mediating sin whether it be gossip, lying, cheating, over-eating, or giving in to addiction will get quieter and quieter until it is all but gone from the grief of being ignored time and time again. To think of losing the voice of the Holy Spirit in my life due to my continuous disobedience is a very sad and frightening thought. One that I hope will fight hard to always out-weigh my desire to sin. Pre-Confession I believe, is a part of God's plan for our restoration in Him. Sometimes it's not enough to be silent and pray in our heads about our sin nature, but we need speak it out to someone who loves us and loves Him. Don't be afraid...God will hear you, heal you and beam His glorious smile of delight over you each and every time you do it. 

PSALM 51:10
Create in me a clean heart oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.