Forever Faithful.

Forever

The whole bible is a testament of God’s faithfulness, a faithfulness that comes to fruition in the life of Jesus Christ. From Genesis 3:15, God promises offspring of the woman to come and bruise the head of the serpent—that being Jesus. The whole of the bible, every letter, every word, every story, every event is about one thing and that is the coming and death of a savior, Christ Jesus who came to do just that, save his people.

And he did.

That is the truth that we can dwell upon, the truth that we are to guard our hearts with, the reason that we can continue on in the face of persecution, pain, and suffering. That he did. That Jesus did come, he did live, he did die, he did take every bit of our pain, he did take every bit of suffering, he did take every bit of our sin upon himself, and he did die for us. He did all of these things because we have a faithful God. We have a God who promised us in the third chapter of the bible that he would send him, and kept reminding us of this promise through the whole of the Old Testament and made it come to fruition in the New, and he keeps on in this same faithfulness each and every moment of everyday, now and forever.

Faithful

Anxiety has ripped me apart at the seams. The past month has been a torment.

I returned from a weekend of rest, restoration, realizations, and the Redeemer with RUF (Reformed University Fellowship) at their Fall Conference in Montezuma, NM, only to get a bad case of bronchitis or the flu or something of the sort; all I know is I was miserable for more than a week and a half.

Prior to the trip and prior to my illness, I had been feeling better than I had in five years. I was happy again, I was interested in things again, and I was sleeping well again. I felt like a new woman. Then, the illness hit and along came a crippling bout of anxiety.

I am still not sure of the origin of this anxiety, I have my suspicions that it had to do with how miserable I was while I was so sick, that I was scared that it was going to continue or get worse, but even after I overcame those thoughts, the anxiety remained.

The last few weeks have been nothing but an inner battle with myself, trying to convince myself that everything is okay day in and day out. I’ve been trying to find anything that could comfort me and make me feel good again.

But let me tell you, this stuff is consuming. It’s like every moment is a fight to keep going, to keep breath in my lungs, to keep tears from my eyes, to keep my heart from racing, to keep myself out of bed (where I would no doubt remain all day if I could), to keep myself from panicking, to keep from blaming myself for anything and everything happening around me.

With all of this inner turmoil, I am sure one can deduce just how hard it has been to keep faith. All I can do is ask God why this is happening to me? Why it has to be that every night I have a series of panic attacks that make me worry if I will be able to sleep or not? Why I can’t just go back to the progress I was making a month ago—to the feelings of wholeness and that I was finally overcoming this silent beast?

But even as I type out these questions that have been the real life things I have been proposing to God, I see the error in them. I have been begging God for all the wrong things.

In Philippians, Paul writes from his Roman prison cell, where he has been imprisoned for spreading the gospel. When looking Paul’s circumstance, one would think his first response would be to ask God why; why if he is serving him, would he let this happen to him? However, when I look at Paul’s actual response to his imprisonment, my own hardened heart that is prone to ask “why” questions of God is challenged and changed. Paul says,

“I want you to know brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known among the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.”

Philippians 1:12-13

As Paul sits in prison he looks at it not as a burden or a reason to ask God the “why” questions, but rather an opportunity to spread the gospel to the guards that watch over him and give vigor to those who still remain out in the world seeking to share the truth of Jesus. Paul even manages throughout the whole book to rejoice, to rejoice in the fact that still in his suffering, he is allowed the privilege to serve Christ and is still be able to call on others to rejoice in doing the same.

This God of ours is a faithful one. One who can take the things that seem to be holding us captive and make them good. He is a faithful God that despite our shortcomings and selfish requests of Him still calls us back to the reality of Christ, his faithfulness incarnate. He was faithful to Paul in contenting him in the revelation of the truth and purpose of his imprisonment, and so He will be faithful to us.

While I examine my own prayers and thoughts against Paul’s, I can do little else but be convicted. As I sit in my situation with this anxiety that has created a sort of prison for me, I recognize that I should be praying that God would use this pain to ultimately propel me to press on to serve Christ. While this circumstance hurts and is confusing this is where I am supposed to be.

He will be faithful to me and to you to the very end, because His faithfulness is never ending.

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Coming to Terms with Time

I have taken to this blog as a place where I can do what I do best, writing. When I write, it serves the chief purpose as to gather my own thoughts in one singular place and to look over them in hopes of reaping from them some particular insight or epiphany and hopefully help someone else along the way. Sometimes though, my writing isn’t always in that fashion, it doesn’t always afford me the opportunity of a great epiphany or understanding. Sometimes it is just ramblings in hopes of getting them out of my head, and that is a bit like what I seem to be doing here with the concept of time.

On August 30th I made one of the most difficult decisions of my life. I decided to leave behind the only sure thing I have known in the last fifteen years—school. I decided to take a semester off of college, a hiatus if you will, in hopes of making some attempts at getting well.

In this time off there have been marked improvements.  There have been improvements like the fact that anxiety is not gripping everyday of my life, or that I am not dealing with horrible side effects of former medications, or that I don’t feel like there is a dark cloud above my head in every moment preventing me from living. I have had time to come closer to God and to contemplate his truths. I have had the opportunity to make a platform for myself to share these things and because of this I feel like this is the place to contemplate the following thing that I have been too scared to admit to myself, that this whole thing is going to take time.

I have no good explanation for you as to what I thought was going to happen when I decided to take a semester off of school. I remember going in to it considering it a time of healing, to give myself time to repair, to heal not only physically and mentally, but also spiritually. My words, however, seem to have rung hollow to myself, I seem to have just been justifying my hiatus with this concept of allowing myself time, and leaving it as just that, a concept. Though I have made strides in these places of healing mentioned above, there seems to be a part of me that thought it would all be over by now.

But this is not the case. While I have come to this place before and explained great things God has revealed to me through this pain and have had the excitement of coming to know him better, I have also come to realize that there is a difference between knowing God is in control and accepting that he is in control. That may seem fairly obvious to some, but it’s a hard pill to swallow, a painful realization when you thought you were being accepting of such a thing, then having it proven by yourself, to yourself that you have been trying to hold fast to your own schedule and your own plan. It seems to be that He has decided that his plan for my life, for my healing, will take time, the very concept I justified my hiatus with, and it will take longer than human me wants.

Time is cruel, but yet again, I am left here in awe of the revelations of himself that God has presented me through this pain. Again I am left with the recognition that He is in control, and it is now my turn to relinquish my own attempts at having said control. I am still hurting. I am still broken. But it is time that I not only allow God to do what he will, to align my desires with his will, but also to start to be truthful with myself about where I am and what I need which is his good and perect time, not what I want in my human schedule.

 

Dealing with Apathy as a Notorious Feeler: Finding Comfort in Truth

I am absolutely certain that God created and called me to be a feeler and an empathizer. He created and called me to be one who thinks about others before myself, to be one who is moved to my core by other’s triumphs and failures. He created and called me specifically and intentionally to be one who identifies with the feelings of others—for large groups, for small groups, for nations, for individuals, for the marginalized, for the broken, for the underdog, for the successful.

In this calling I have found both blessing and difficulty. With it, I am able to empathize with others and to help them, to feel for them and to connect with them. Due to this, there is little more I want from this life than to help others and share my deep feeling nature with the world in a positive manner. However, with this calling also comes difficulty: ease at feeling too much, a simplicity in taking on others feelings to the point that I forsake my own health, to feel too deeply too quickly. I am then tempted to value feeling over truth.

Throughout the last few months I have dealt for the first time in my life with what I would brand as “serious apathy”. I have found myself going from my norm of feeling deeply about everything I hear, every person I encounter, and every word I read, to feeling nothing about anything. I have felt, however, that apathy doesn’t feel right and is a burden. I have felt like my being has been swiped away and dangled in front of me when thinking about who I “actually” am.

For someone who feels deeply about nearly everything, apathy is a terrifying concept. Apathy to the feeler is like the ground being pulled out from beneath your feet and being told, “Find somewhere to stand.” It is the opposite of your core being. In handling apathy I have found it to be one the most discouraging things I have ever encountered (I use “handling” lightly as I really haven’t handled it well).

Throughout my bouts with apathy these past months, there is one thing that I found which prevails over the feeling of apathy and the temptation to value my feeling nature to an uncanny degree, and that is truth. The only thing that I have been able to grasp is the fact that I am in fact called to be a feeler, but also to value the truth over feeling.

In apathy I have found it difficult to worship, to pray, to bring glory to God, and to serve him in any manner. I can’t explain the painstaking attempts at praying and worshiping when I feel nothing. Looking back on these moments from a place of feeling, I can’t help but recognize the sin in my attempts to feel again in my time of apathy. It is like telling God, “Sorry, but I can’t bring glory to you, the one who grants me this breath to live, the one who has given me this life, the one who has redeemed me and saved me from the sin of this world, all because I just don’t feel like it.”

When put in those terms, it makes me come to a place of nearly disdaining my apathy for making me feel this way toward God; however, I stop myself here and am able to recognize his blessing in it. Experiencing apathy has allowed me to evaluate the way I feel about Jesus. To recognize where my focus lies, on feeling and not truth, is not where it should. How this focus should be put on the truths of Christ rather than on my human feeling. Feelings cannot only be misleading, but they are human, and while they are integral in the human experience and allow many beautiful things, when fully relied upon, they are seen for what they are, just that—human experiences.

When we rely on our feelings to be good toward God and rely on our feelings to trust in the truth of Jesus, we will always be prone to be discouraged from our walk with Christ. It is not until we value and recognize the truth of Him–of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us, of Christ who died for us, and of God who orchestrates every moment of our lives–over the feeling of our human tendencies will we be able to find true peace.

From this peace found in truth, comes proof that God will prevail despite our human tendencies. From this peace comes the opportunity for me to feel for others better, on the basis that I live in a place of truth rather than of feeling.  From this peace comes a freedom from the pains of apathy and a reminder that these things are ordained by God. No matter my own human feeling, He will always be the one guiding the way.  He will always be there. He wants us to dwell on this truth, not our misguided feelings.

We are created and called as God’s people to dwell on the truth of who Jesus is, what and who he died for, and fact that we have been made new in him, a truth that reaches beyond human feeling and overwhelms our understanding. When you embrace that knowledge, you will find that the truth is your only resting place.

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Laci Reads: September

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

Welcome to Lace Reads: the monthly (hopefully) book club and book review segment on Composing Lace.

Let’s just get it out there, I am an absolute book worm.  Since I was little and my mom worked in the library of my elementary school I have been surrounded by books– I like to think I practically grew up in between the shelves. At some point I traded in the book covered shelves of an elementary school library, for books in every corner of my own life.  It is a rare occasion you will find a book absent from my purse or minus my iPad (yes I have given in to eBooks), or my night stand clear of a minimum number of five books stacked and waiting for late nights and early mornings.

I love everything there is about books: the pages, the smell, the way they can capture you and hold you, but most of all I love the words, and I mean I love the words. Among my many interests, chief among those is the way words manage to change the world.  To me one of the most intriguing thoughts is that of the cliché, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”

With this being a fact of my life it is only natural that I would like to share this love with you.  The topics of the books I choose will vary, but most will focus on faith, life, and growth.  Some of the largest influences on my walk with Jesus have been books such as The Lipstick Gospel by Stephanie May Wilson, Not a Fan by Kyle Idlemen, and Wild and Free by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan (the women who actually introduced me to this month’s selection). Since words do mean so much to me, when I find books that are filled with truth and lead me to the truth of the Gospel, I grab on to them with all my might and heart.

Let’s also not forget the author of the best selling book of all time just happens to be the Creator of the Universe and the owner of my life. Therefore I can only believe that He has placed this love on my heart, calling me to dig deeper into His word and be lead to Truth through other’s words.

Now for this month’s selection, Uninvited: Living Loved when You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa TerKeurst.

When I first heard about this book, it was the day before it came out on Jess Connolly’s Instagram (one of the authors of my favorite book about faith mentioned above, Wild and Free).  Much like the first time I read the cover of Wild and Free I was immediately moved by the subtitle of Uninvited, “Living Loved when you feel less than, left out, and lonely”.  Those words ordered side-by-side rang a bell deep inside me, that beckoned me to get my hands on this book. Those adjectives “less than, left out, and lonely,” have been hallmarks of my life for as long as I can remember, and I was intrigued by the prospect of someone tackling them in a book, maybe I would finally have an answer for the hurt I have known for so long.  Uninvited did just that, but rather than containing the answer, it pointed me to the answer I have always known– true acceptance is found through Jesus.

Uninvited, tackles the topic of rejection and the way it can effect one’s personal image and expectations of others. Let me tell you, TerKeurst does a phenomenal job approaching such a difficult subject.  Her writing is filled with so many truths, so many women need to hear.  It is so easy, especially as a young woman to let the words “left out”, “less than”, and “lonely” define your life and the way you feel about yourself, as they have done to me for so long. TerKeurst approaches this subject with such ease, love, and truth that it is almost inevitable your thoughts will be redirected to the knowledge that she wants to share: that you are called to live loved, you are told you are enough, and you are not lonely if Jesus is the love and guide of your life.

One of the main points that TerKeurst stresses that I think defines this book, is the fact of not allowing ourselves to expect other people to heal us.  As I wrote in my post Caregiver that tendency has been something I have struggled with my entire life.  I want nothing more than for another human to care for me the way that I care for them, and when they don’t and life seems questionable, I question God’s goodness. However, TerKeurst provides an entire book about the way that human expectations and expectations of other humans, will always let us down. Unless we turn to God and His truth with all of our lives, we can never accurately assess God’s goodness and know true acceptance. The fact is, when we give him all of our lives, it is clear to see that He is always good and always faithful, even in rejection and hurt. That is what Jesus died for on the cross–that we may know God’s infinite love and acceptance.

“I couldn’t keep my old broken beliefs, nail a little Jesus truth to the side and expect stability. I knew I had to stop assessing God’s goodness by how my life felt at any given time.  Feelings are broken boards.  Only truth is solid, unchanging, and stable through and through.”

Lysa TerKeurst, Uninvited 

Uninvited points us to respond to God’s call for us to turn all of our past rejections over to Him, and acknowledge that He is at work and will be faithful to us through eternity.  He calls us to live loved, because we are, and to turn to Him in all moments of our lives, even the painful ones.  I pray for you dear reader, that this will not only be your truth, but mine–that we can live loved and comforted, knowing because of Jesus, in God we will always find acceptance

For more on this subject, I highly suggest picking up Uninvited for yourself, and be blessed by the truth it points to.

And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.

Isaiah 42:16