Saturday, April 13, 2013

Doubt, Fear, and Trust

The past few months have been a struggle!  I have been trying to trust the Lord.  I have been trying to wait on Him.  I have been trying to leave my cares on Him.  I have been trying to encourage myself in His Word.  But Satan has been trying to speak words of doubt into my mind....doubt that He will answer my prayer requests, doubt that He will do it in the time it needs to be answered, doubt that He wants to answer because I am not many doubts.  I try not to listen to them, but they still come.  Then I try to remind myself of the things that God has already done in my life to show Himself to me, and I try to remember some of the things that He has been trying to teach me.  It's not always easy though.
The other day a friend and I were talking and as we were talking she ended up telling me about some doubts that had been spoken to her about something she just wanted to feel a peace about.  There was some validity to things that had been spoken, which made her doubts even stronger.  She told me that she got down on her knees before bed that night with her Bible open in front of her and cried out to the Lord to give her a verse, something to confirm that things were going to be OK. She found nothing.  She was so discouraged afterwards.  As she was talking to me, the Lord graciously reminded her the words were spoken by someone without the same motives and desires as she had for the situation.  Then the Lord brought to my mind some of the things I had learned.  She told me some of the positive things about the situation that she knew.  I told her Satan had used that other person to speak doubts to her, but all the positive things she was remembering were the things she needed to speak out loud to Satan in those times he tried to make her doubt.  I told her to even write them down to help her remember and speak them.  The other day as Satan was trying to feed me some lies, the Lord graciously allowed me to look in my driveway to see the car that He unexpectedly gave to me when I was struggling with wrong doubts and fears.  He reminded me that when Satan tries to tell me that God cannot, will not, or might not do something, I could look in the driveway and be reminded of what He ALREADY has done.  It was so much fun for me to see my friend's countenance change as I shared things with her. I was also able to remind her of something else I had been doing lately...reminding the Lord of His promises to me, that I am His and He has promised to take care of me in my times of need.  That He has promised if I have faith He promised to move my mountains, that if I prayed and asked in faith believing He would answer.  It was a blessing to me and a good reminder to my spirit as I spoke to her, and it was neat to see that it helped her spirit as well.  She felt better, but as she walked down the hallway, she said out loud, Lord if you could just send a lightning bolt to show me what I need.
After we finished talking, I went to see another friend who has also been struggling with some doubts and fears.  But when I went to see her, she showed me an answer to one of her prayers.  It was a shock, because I'm not sure either one of us thought that would be answered in that way.  I was truly blessed seeing that answer to her prayer.  Not that everything is wonderful and fully resolved, but it was part of what was needed to see the Lord's hand at work in the situation.  But then she had something that she had learned that week that she wanted to share with me, something that encouraged her and something she knew would encourage me, too.  She shared versed Psalm 1:1-3.  I've read those verses thousands of times, and I will admit I was a little skeptical about what they had to do with my situations that I have been praying and crying out to the Lord about.  She said the main part was the first part of verse 3.  "And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that bringeth forth his fruit in his season..."  Again, what does this really have to do with my situation, or even hers?  But then she read to me the notes that she took about that verse.  She said the person who she heard shared with them that there may be times in our lives where we don't feel like the Lord hears us, or that He is not answering our prayers.  And before we get discouraged and doubt, we need to consider that as this verse states that the Lord will bring forth His fruit in HIS season.  It may not be the time we were hoping or thinking He would answer, but His time.  But what she said next totally struck me, she said the reason He may not have answered that in the time or way we would be hoping is because that fruit may not be ripe yet!  It may not be ready to develop yet, and He knows the perfect time for that fruit to ripen so that it will bring forth much more fruit in His season.  Wow!!!  The first thing I thought was thank you, Lord, but my next thought was to find the first friend I had been talking to to share it with her.  She happened to still be there and I was able to share those words with her...she got chills as I told them to her.  The Lord didn't give her that verse the night before when she wanted it, but gave it to her the next day, with a great message that went with it!  I told her if that was not a lightning bolt I don't know what was.  We were both so excited to get that confirmation from the Lord!  He is so good to do that!!
That evening was church and Pastor's message was on the tongue.  Of course, if you've been a Christian for any time you have heard plenty of sermon's on the tongue.  And he did speak about some of the things I expected, but then he talked about the tongue being more of a revolving door.  Yes, things come out of it and we must be careful what does.  But he also just so happened to mention that the tongue also needs to be used to speak truth back to ourselves.  That we need to encourage ourselves in the Lord and in His promises, the same thing my friends and I had just been discussing a couple of hours earlier!!It was neat to see how the Lord allowed him to share that that night.  What a blessing!!    And then, to make things even more Pastor was preaching there were a couple of real lightning bolts outside from a quick storm that came up.  So, if that jolt from His Word wasn't enough, He sent a real one to confirm it even more!!  What an amazing God I serve!!
Lord, help me to remember these blessings when times of doubt and fear rise up in my mind.  I know I've prayed this before.  But I will keep praying it for myself and my friends as much as I need to!  Help me not to doubt, but to trust You.  Help me to remember what You have already done.  Help me to remember what You have already been trying to teach me.  Help me to remember to speak words of encouragement and truth to myself in those times of doubt.  Thank you for those bolts and jolts to help us remember!
And thank you for this this morning and the verse from Malachi 3:10 that You brought to mind to once again help me to remember to trust You.  "...and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."

Friday, April 5, 2013

Always Learning

As I've said over and over again lately, these have been some interesting months lately.  Through all of it I have learned many things, but I'm sure I'm not done yet.  It usually takes me a while anyway. :)  I know my last couple of blogs have been about my friend Angie, but she is continually on my heart and mind.  And so much of what I have been learning has been through this situation.  I planned to write about this earlier, but then the other post came to mind and I had to write that first.  So please permit me some more moments of talking and sharing about my friend.  I miss her so much, but I know I'm not the only one.  I have seen posts on Facebook recently where friends are just missing her.  I have also talked to some people who have said that they think about her everyday, even some that only knew her a short time.  And if we miss her that much, I can't even imagine how much more her family misses her!  I have seen posts from them talking about missing her so much.  They are going to miss her and mourn her for the rest of their lives, and that's OK.  There is no time limit on mourning, as another friend shared, so I hope they will always feel free to think of her, cry for her, remember her, mourn her, talk about her, share fun memories about her, and treasure her always.  That should never be discouraged, it's healthy.  We've been doing that for over 2000 years with the Lord's Supper, He asks us to do that in remembrance of Him until He comes back.  It's good to mourn and remember.
No, that's not what I learned, I already knew that.  So, on to what I have learned.  The day after Angie's death we had a prayer service at our church.  That was a tough day, walking into the church and seeing so many sad and hurting people.  All we could basically do was cry and hug each other.  After being in the lobby for a while we went into the auditorium to sit and wait for things to start.  Right before things started Angie's family all came walking in together, which made it even more emotional.  But it was such a blessing to be able to see them.  Pastor read a passage and later Tim came up to speak.  There were some things that he said that really just stuck out in my mind that I keep coming back to.  One thing that I loved that he said about Ang was just the simple fact that she was real.  And she really was, and that was how people could relate to her and feel so comfortable around her.  She was real about what was right and wrong, and she would speak up for what she felt was right, even if it might not have been popular.  She was real with people and definitely with the kids at school, telling them what was right and wrong, encouraging them to do right, whether at school, at home, or simply with friends.  She was real about her relationship with the Lord and what she believed.  She lived it and shared it all the time.  But he also shared something that I absolutely loved and have held to.  He said that he asked his brother to be real with him.  He asked him if Angie could see what was going on down here.  He wondered how she could be in heaven not shedding tears as she looked down at her family who are so devastated by her loss.  How could she be OK, knowing they were down here and were not OK, or could she just not see them.  I loved what his brother said!  He said he believed Angie could look down and see what was going on, but that the reason she was not going to be upset or crying is because she can now see the WHOLE picture.  She sees what each of her kids will become, and how the Lord will use them and take care of them through their lives.  I don't think it could have been answered more beautifully, and it gave such a precious perspective to this awful time of wondering and not understanding this.  That is something that has and will continue to stick with me.  It's hard to be on this side of things and not understand what is going on or why.  Things that may be muddy and don't make sense here suddenly become clear in heaven, and there is rejoicing.
I also knew this next one, but it was good to have Tim remind everyone, that unless we do something that makes a difference for all eternity nothing else really matters.  And Angie made a difference in so many people's lives.  She pointed people to Christ, she encouraged people in the Lord, and she just loved people so very much.  So many people shared how Angie made a difference in their lives, talked to them and encouraged them.  She lived out Jude 22 "And of some have compassion, making a difference."  She always showed such compassion and she made a difference in people's lives.
The Monday after that prayer service was the first day back to school since Angie passed and again it was hard to walk into that building, there was a huge joyous presence missing, it just didn't feel right.  There was an assembly for the older kids to help with this difficult day.  Again, the whole Larson family walked in to be a part of it.  And again Tim got up to speak...and again I was touched!  He told the students that he had written something on his hand WWAD.  He said there was the popular phrase a few years ago WWJD "What Would Jesus Do".  But he said some of us may get discouraged thinking and knowing we will never measure up to that standard because He is perfect and we never will be this side of glory.  So he said maybe it would be easier and more present in our minds to think "What Would Angie Do".  She wasn't perfect, and many could relate to her struggles in her life, but we all knew she was constantly striving to be all that the Lord wanted her to be,  and was always encouraging that in others. So I loved that thought.  It wasn't about uplifting Angie, it was still all about uplifting the Lord Jesus, just remembering that is what she strove to do and wanted others to do.  We even have wonderful bracelets for sale now that say WWAD on them with Angie's favorite verse Micah 6:8 and also 1 Cor. 11:1.  Great reminders for everyone.  The money will be used to help this awesome family!
I have also been reminded about words lately.  Words are so important, they can help and heal, but they can also hurt and harm.  We must be careful to seek, and use wisdom when it comes to our words.  We know as Christians our words should uplift, exhort, and encourage.  But we still need to ask the Lord for wisdom, because sometimes those words we thinking are helping may actually be harming.  In our efforts to say something, or something we think may be a spiritual encouragement, we many times innocently saying something that does more harm than good.  Sometimes it would be better to just give a hug, tell someone you are praying for them and love them, and then leave it at that.  When we seek the Lord, He will help us to know.
I also learned that love is an incredible thing.  As I think about Angie, I am continually amazed at the love that emanated from this woman.  She gave so much to everyone.  It is so hard for me to imagine one person sharing that much love so specially with so many people.  Her family never felt cheated out of her love, she loved them immensely, and not just all as a whole, she loved them each individually in a special way!  Then she showered more of that love through her church, and our school, and with other people as well.  If we could all learn to love like that, what a difference we could make in this world.  Let's make a difference!
Lord, I'm so thankful for these things that you are constantly teaching me, things that I am constantly learning or being reminded of.  Help me to have an open heart to always learn.  Even in these hard times there are so many important things that we can learn. May I always be a willing student.  Some lessons are tougher than others, but I need all of them to be where You want me to be.