Monday, June 17, 2019

Sacred Fumes

"You look like you're stressed out all the time!"

Yesterday was Father's Day at church and they sang Good, Good Father.
I couldn't sing anything at all. It was difficult enough just to keep my eyes open, so I swayed instead.

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We're sold out at work. Saying no loses it's deliciousness when people throw their anger in your face. I'm on a nine day stretch and making everyone around me miserable. I wish I could've brought more to church than my empty hands, but that's all I had that morning. I'm running on the ghosts of cordial expressions and a ridiculous amount of caffeine.

Yesterday's Passages: 
"Now great crowds were traveling with Him. So He turned and said to them:
"If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters-yes, and even his own life-he cannot be My disciple. 
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. "For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn't first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, after he has laid the foundation and cannot finish it, all the onlookers will begin to make fun of him, saying, 'This man started to build and wasn't able to finish.'  
"Or what king, going to war against another king, will not first sit down and decide if he is able with 10,000 to oppose the one who comes against him with 20,000? If not, while the other is still far off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace." -Luke 14:25-35
"For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold as a slave to sin. For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. Now if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one that does it, but it is the sin that lives in me. 
"So I discover this law: When I want to do what is good, evil is present with me. For in my inner self, I delight in God’s law, but I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body.
"What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am serving the law of God, but with my flesh, the law of sin. -Romans 7:14-25
 During worship, one of the leaders said a prayer asking the Lord to restore joy. Then Pastor Cameron also read Psalm 51 to us, in which David begs God not to leave him, to heal him from his sins, and to restore the joy of his salvation. "That I may teach sinners your way," he says.  

That said, posting and writing "devotionals" is hard since I have no joy right now. It's difficult to tell others to receive His rains and tides with trust and dependence because all I have is heaviness: heavy eyes, heavy mind, heavy soul. To have those things prayed over me, in congregation with others who understand, between the two people that most know how badly I need it, was worth only getting five hours of sleep.

Something else Pastor Cameron said, which is still resonating with me as I write this out, is that an identifying characteristic of the Believer is that struggle Paul described in Romans. Those on the outside of the Family don't know what it's like to struggle with their natural desires because they don't answer to anyone but themselves. It doesn't make their heart race or their stomach flip to follow their self-set courses.

Water flows along the path of least resistance. There are desires and yearnings, things my spirit screams for, like control, understanding of the future, certainty, peace, love. I would be a river rushing out into the ocean if I could have just some of those things...

But I've gone that way before and it ate me up alive. Because I know Him. I know what He expects of me. 

Or at least, I think I do.

Pastor Cameron also said that the enemy would lie to us about grace and the way it works, how it enables us to carry our crosses. He compared the cross to complete loss of control... it made my heart sink. (Dear God, I feel like if I don't have control over anything whatsoever, a black hole will begin in my chest cavity and swallow me out of existence.) He said the enemy would say things like, "It's not that simple, it can't be: you can't just ask for mercy and forgiveness and get it. It just doesn't work like that. What Jesus did isn't enough, only once I do something to take care of all this can I truly receive that grace." 

That struck me deep inside. I regularly fight and succumb to that thought.

I have to do all of this on my own. It only counts if I get through it like a strong woman, no tears, just grit your teeth and run through it, girl.

But the devil is a liar, and the Word says I don't have to do it on my own. Reality says I can't do it on my own, and I'm so grateful for the people I've been leaning on during this time, mentally, physically, and spiritually. 

I know you have your struggles coinciding with my very mild ruins, and I'm thankful for you being there. 
Thank you for listening.
Thank you for praying.
Thank you for holding.
Thank you for understanding.

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