’For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.’ ~Romans 8:6
So here it is, one in the morning, and I cannot sleep no matter what. I tried reading, tried watching a movie, even took a melatonin; but the thoughts just keep coming. It always starts with a to do list…do you ever lay awake thinking of all that you need to do, then all that you could have done today but waisted time with something else? (Sorry if I seem to orbit around a bit, but there is a really great point I promise, just stick with me)
This past week has been kind of an off week for me anyway. Not for any reason, just feeling a bit low. So, as any girl would do, that needs a change in mood and a symbolic fresh start, I cut off all my hair, ha! I know it seems dramatic but I had been thinking about it for a while and needed a change. (Also, my husband really likes it short so I wanted to surprise him) It did seem to help at first; the cut and color turned out really great, I got really good feedback from the women at church at women’s night out that night, and of course my hubby LOVED it!
Then today my family spent the day cleaning the house, decluttering, and gathering items to donate…If you know me at all you would know that I HATE clutter! It stresses me beyond belief! Also, I love to donate things–especially if I already have someone in mind to give the item to. Even more, I love sorting out things with my daughter! She is the most giving child I have ever seen and it warms my heart every time she says, ‘Mommy, you can give this to the kids in Nicaragua’ or, ‘Mommy, I don’t use this anymore and I think my friend so-and-so would really like it’….Anyway, all these things combined you would think would have been great for changing spirits but, for whatever reason, none of this is bringing me out of this funk!
As I laid in bed tonight and had my to-do list bombarding me I kept feeling like I don’t do enough. Actually, more like I do too much, which makes the things that I do only be done halfway, which is like them not being done at all, meaning I don’t do enough…Crazy, I know. I barely follow it and it’s my brain! (This is why I am processing this out; so that not only can I tell if it is a total lie or if there is any truth to it, but also so that my moment of weekness may serve as a lesson to you on working out your own lies with God as your focus-hope this helps!)
At first the thought made perfect sense. ‘Maybe I can’t really keep up a blog, and a full time job, and work at the church, and give my husband and daughter what they need. Maybe I really do need to cut something out.’ I started to envision all of the areas I am falling short at. Then I started to think, ‘Maybe all this traveling and missions trip stuff is too much. Maybe that’s what has pushed me over the edge of what I can accomplish with my time. What did I really accomplish there anyway? What difference did I really make in Nicaragua? What’s the point of going to Costa Rica in October for missions training? Like I’m going to be an actuall missionary, ha! I can’t even manage to read my bible every day, or keep the kids happy and not fighting, or even finish the laundry by the end of the week…I’m supposed to go to another country and teach them how to seek God and raise their kids and help build homes!’ and it went on and on and on…I won’t bore you with the craziness, just wanted to show you how the lies develop. How they become so easy to believe because there is a little bit of truth at the start of them…you have to see that it may have some truth, but it’s not the whole truth, and certainly not God’s truth. Nothing done in God’s name could ever be a waist of time or not done well enough!
‘So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it’ (Isaiah 55:11).
It wasn’t until I started to doubt the work done in Nicaragua and question what effect I’m actually having in the Children’s Ministry, where I work as the coordinator, that I began to see the attack happening.
I suddenly had a picture in my head of our mission’s team praying with the elders of a church in Nicaragua and suddenly I was reminded of the word of encouragment that I shared with them. It was a sort of ‘aaha moment’ that allowed me to see a glimmer of light in this sinking darkness. It is at that point that you have the choice to continue to hear the lies and accept the bondage of feeling useless, unnecessary,unloved, no reason for being. All of the things that Satan would have you believe about yourself. Now that I have the light to focus on that’s the only place I want to look and I pray that it draws me closer and closer to it and out of this pit. So I focus on that memory…
The Holy Spirit had shown me a picture of a field on a hill, a horse with saddle bags full of seeds pulling a plow, and the farmer watching over. I told the elders of that church that this felt to me like God’s farm; He was the farmer, their head pastor is the horse, and they are the plow. God owns the land but he has trained and trusts that horse to pull that plow and work His land. If the plow only had one point it would take a long time for the work to be done…but it would be. The more points there are working together on the plow the faster that field gets prepared, and the faster those seeds get planted. God is the only one that can make the seeds grow, but he has given us the horse, plow, and seeds and has trusted us to work in unity using his tools to get the job done.
While we were praying over the elders of that church, I felt like the Lord was showing me this feeling of defeat and hopelessness, a why bother kind of feeling. I felt that, as people, we tend to count our success in numbers. In the church, for example, we would ask; how much money is the church making, how many people are coming every week, how many outreaches do we do, and how many people are served at them? Some go even further to count how many baptisms have we done or how many people came up to accept Jesus as their savior today? Now these are not bad things to count, these are all great things to have happening…but they are only confirmation of things that are happening.
Every time a church goes out to advertise for an outreach in the community or invites people to come forward and accept Christ as Lord and Savior or any of those other things, we do not know what is happeing in the spiritual world. We can only see the physical. We may only have a handful of people show up to an outreach when we planned for a hundred, but how many people are now aware that there are people out there that have noticed them and care for them? How much closer then are they to accepting if they can be noticed and cared for, just maybe there really is a God who can love them? Or, of the people invited to accept Jesus or be baptised into the faith that do not go up to do so, how many of them have accepted Jesus in their hearts and are saved at that moment but are just not ready to face some of their own lies to step out in this new faith and show that first step of obedience publically? Does that mean the work done was any less successful? Only if we count what we see in the physical world.
‘God doesn’t require us to succeed, he only requires that you try.’ ~Mother Teresa
Just as these examples in the church show the difference between what is a success in God’s kingdom and one that is a success in our own mind, we must remember this in our own lives. Just as with the horse carrying the seeds in the saddlebags, we don’t know how many seeds have been scattered from those bags. If we are being obedient in following God’s direction and focusing on the work He has given us, we will never know how many seeds have been planted in the process. God can use every word or action or even smile into something that grows into a beautifully frutiful life!
As for my own life, I cannot see how God is growing the seeds that I have planted knowingly or otherwise. I may never know what the effects were of my time in Nicaragua or any other mission or outreach that the Lord leads me to. He will send me a bit of confirmation here and there to encourage me along the way, but I will never really know (on this Earth anyway) what ‘successes’ I really have been a part of. I also know that sometimes we won’t get it right, but even still God will turn those attempts into triumphs because the attempt was still done in His name.
This is where my latest BIG struggle has come in to play. I have such a HUGE fear of failure and such a work=reward mentality that has all of a sudden stopped me in my tracks. How is it that I can pray outloud for every person in my path in Nicaragua–even in the middle of a Pizza Hut, but I suddenly cannot open my mouth to pray infront of anyone at home with out going into a panic. How is it that all of a sudden I feel like I have to do more and do better or maybe I’m not doing enought. Maybe I haven’t done enough to get into Heaven, maybe I am not really forgiven, is Jesus going to say to me that I never knew Him or will He say well done?
See how one to do list can become a never ending battle of lies? These are more lies that I am facing right now and still processing through, but I will leave you with the examples that I have given and finish these alone with God. Remember whenever you start to feel full of sorrow, or what’s the point to search for the glimmer of light and stay focused on it. Pray to God to draw you closer to Him and shine full light on the struggles to reveal what is true and what is not. Pray that He will show you or tell you exactly what it is that you need to understand your purpose and how you are treasured. If there is a shadow of doubt, even the smallest little bit, Satan will feed on this and start that To Do list over again (just as he has done mine). Stay focused on God’s word and read verses over and over to yourself until you are fully convicted of the truth in God’s word for you. Every word in the bible is a tool for you to fight these battles and find peace and rest in the night.
I pray this bit of craziness in my head has revealed to you a path to take when feeling overwhelmed, useless, unloved, etc. I pray that you realize that God never gives you more that you can handle and that He is always near for you to reach out to and focus on no matter how dark the pit may begin to feel. I pray that you are able to put this all into practice to the point that you don’t even realize you are fighting the battle anymore, it just becomes second nature because you are able to stay focused on the truth, the light, and the way. Amen!
‘I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, ‘How many good things have you done in your life?’ rather he will ask, ‘How much love did you put into what you did?’ ~Mother Teresa
‘Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’ ~Matthew 11:28-30
‘Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.’ ~Isaiah 12:2
‘Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ ~Romans 5:1