Welcome to my blog...

Green trees, cool water, a gentle breeze...the perfect place to sit at the feet of the Master and learn. Jesus taught so often on the shoreline, and He's still speaking today.

This is where I share the lessons He teaches me, often during the time I spend on the shores of a local lake. I don't have all the answers...and some days I don't have any. But I go here when I need to draw near to Him in a tangible way. Come with me...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

From Despair to Prayer - Part 3

Monday morning finally arrived and I got on the road, headed down to Ocean City, New Jersey.  Up until the previous week, I knew my friend was going to allow me to use his house for a few days, but I didn't know when.  Luckily, the God who created the entire universe also knows exactly what each of us needs and when.  The timing couldn't have been more perfect.  When I thought I was at my breaking point, I was given the opportunity to slip away, reconnect with Him and get back on track.

I took my time driving down.  It was a picture perfect September day - a deep blue sky with fluffy white clouds ambling across the heavens, and temps in the high 70s.  The sun warmed my face, and I rode with the window down to enjoy the slight breeze.  About half an hour in, I stopped at a farmer's market for some plums.  I really wanted blueberries for pancakes the next morning, but they were out of season.  Another 45 minutes or so down the road, I  grabbed a sweet tea at a McDonald's.  The more miles I put between me and my stresses, the better I began to feel.  Finally, for the first time in weeks, I began to talk to God.  I poured out my heart telling him about all my frustrations, uncertainties, and anger.  I was able to articulate things I couldn't before, but I was also taking ownership of certain feelings, not just pointing fingers and casting blame.  I asked for His forgiveness for my pride, my critical spirit, and my judgmental attitude.  I recognized that no matter how right or wrong I might be about someone's motivation or behavior, it wasn't for me to judge in the first place.  The ability to correctly read the heart belonged to God alone.  My job was to make sure that MY heart was right before God.  That I was seeking and doing His will.  I could pray for others, that they too were seeking God's face in decisions they were making, but beyond that, I needed to hang up my robe and set down the gavel.

When I realized that I did not have to take on the actions of others, it was like a huge weight was removed.  That may sound like a no-brainer to you, but I'm a pleaser by nature.  I care very much - too much - what people think about me, how they react to me, the impression I make on others, and so on down the line.  So the behavior of others greatly impacts me, with the end result being feelings of frustration, a perception of being taken advantage of, or feeling slighted because my pride tells me I'm better suited to a task than the one who was chosen.  It all sounds very childish, but selfish, prideful behavior often is.

When I arrived at the house, it was almost 11 am.  I slipped the key into the lock and took a look around.  Just as I remembered it...bright, clean, quiet, and a back porch view of the breakers.  I could hardly wait to hit the beach.  I quickly lugged in all my things from the car, putting away the food first, then hanging up my clothes, and finally, putting on my bathing suit and lathering up the sun screen.  I filled a cooler bag with water, a blueberry Special K bar, my books, Bible, pen and pad, then slung it over my shoulder followed by my chair and umbrella, each of which were in a handled case.

It was just a few dozen yards up the path to the beach, which was far more full than I had anticipated at this time of year.  I found an empty patch of sand and dropped my gear.  The chair was positioned so I could look straight out at the ocean, the  umbrella plunged into the sand directly behind the chair.  I plopped myself into the seat, dug out the bottle of water placing it in the chair's cup holder, pulled out my devotional, Jesus Calling, and opened it to the entry for September 12th.  "Receive my peace.  It is my continual gift to you.  The best way to receive this gift is to sit quietly in My Presence, trusting Me in every area of your life.  Quietness and trust accomplish far more than you can imagine:  not only in you, but also on earth, and in heaven.  When you trust Me in a given area, you release that problem or person into my care.  Spending alone time with me can be a difficult discipline, because it goes against the activity addiction of this age.  You may appear to be doing nothing; but actually, you are participating in battles going on in spiritual realms.  You are waging war - not with the weapons of the world, but with heavenly weapons; which have divine power to demolish strongholds.  Living close to Me is a sure defense against evil."

As my friend Agnes says, "sometimes that book is just freaky the way it says what you need to hear, just at the right time."  Truer words never spoken.  I closed my eyes and, for the first time in a long time, sat quietly resting in the Presence of my King.

Tomorrow, we take a look at the rest of Psalm 42...

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