While I was watching the opening sequence of the TV series Leftovers, (it’s not about the rapture or last nights meal), an image jumped out that inspired this one. With a hand from another person coming up from below and firmly gripping the face of the other individual causing them to wrench backwards in the struggle. Struggling seems to be the one thing we all have in common. We might not wrestle with the same things, or at the same time and sometimes we can look like we are not struggling with anything, that we have it all together. Some of us have similar stories that we are working through, but how we move through them will also be different for each of us. Some of us will move quickly through these, other times not so quickly, but we will move through them at a pace that is necessary for each of us regardless of the speed. Some of us won’t move through them at all and find ourselves atrophied in areas of our lives because we can’t move, paralysed with fear. Still others, have struggles that have not been seen, revealed or even recognised yet, but are seen by others with similar past experiences, discernment or/and age.
This is the place where God meets us. In all the areas of our heartaches, pains, fears, loss, grief, brokenness, unworthiness and in our lack of qualifications. These are just a few on an unending list. Personally, when I look back over where I have come from, I know this is where God has met me, right in the middle of my mess, my voids, my lack, unskilled self. Actually this is where God already was, is, even when I am unable to see Him. The journey to seek His presence working my brokenness into wholeness since January 2000 in deeper ways continues. Yet the struggle with these negative things that would try to rob me of my self-worth and my self confidence continued to plague me and feed into self doubt. Although I must admit, this is far more easier to recognise and deal with the more intentional I walk closer with God.
It’s been a busy 16 years for the enemy and his attacks. I’ve learned many things in this, a little over a decade and a half of time past:
- The enemy has no new tricks up his sleeve, but he has a plan B when you think you have beaten him. He will come at you at another angle on the same issue to test your staying power and challenge the win you had just moments before.
- There is power on my knees. I can’t stress this enough, or do it as much as I could myself. Just get to your knees and pray.
- When the struggles and the attacks are less, these are the times not to be complacent, but these are to be used for preparing for the battles to come, because they will come and the best defence is a good offence.
- When you are in the tough stuff, this reveals the work you’ve done in the quieter times.
- When you’ve come through something new, another win, and the pressures are lifting off you, this is where you need to get back on your knees. Complacency is dangerous ground and where the enemy roams.
In the last year and a half I have been faced with 2 scares. Inconclusive results and shadows in ultrasounds from routine tests. Both needing biopsy’s for further testing. I am so incredibly thankful that I was given the all clear in both. But man does it reveal where I needed to keep my eyes, and chose to keep my eyes, more so the second time round than the first. I found myself this year in my time of physical healing after surgery, waiting on results with so many thoughts in my head about possible outcomes. No different than anyone else facing the same or similar experiences. All those keep positive thoughts of course, but there were also the thoughts surrounding, what if this is not good? When the result finally arrived, thankfully much earlier than anticipated, I was then faced with conflicting emotions. Joy over the all clear as well as some sadness. This sadness took me by surprise. I want to be healthy. I want to walk alongside my children and do life with them for many decades to come. I wanted so badly for the results to be good, but I also processed what the other side of this could look like and this is where the missing home part came in. There was this knowing that my time right now is here and not to return home to heaven and I found myself in this place of greater understanding for the first time in this journey in seeking God. I’ve had actually started to grow a little more in my understanding of Him and heaven.
One of the Bible verses that continued to come across my thoughts and in podcasts and messages I listened to in this time was Paul, with Timothy, talking to the Philippians, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. So what shall I choose? I do not know. I am torn between the two. I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better indeed. But it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.”
~Philippians 1: 21-24
In seeking to know God’s heart more and to seek Him deeper and know Him better than I do, I’d like to say that I have been 100% in this, but in all honesty, this too has been sporadic. What I have learned, however, is that those little incremental intentional connections with God, even when they have not been as regular as they could be, have brought me into a deeper knowledge of God and what I yearn to know more about. One thing that stood out in this journey so far is learning about God’s love for me in new, deep and personal ways that I had not experienced, or understood before this journey. Through creating works, be it with a brush, a keyboard, a kettle (though I often don’t have milk or sugar) or a pen, I am learning more about His love and how to show this to others, by first facing these myself. I know I am not the only one who seeks God in the ways I do, not to mention the countless ways others seek God and the infinite ways God reveals Himself to us. I am not alone in my desire to know Him deeper and that life’s business can get in the way of this. If I am honest, so does my laziness, my complacency, my avoidance out of fear of what God will call me into next. One of my biggest struggles. I have learned that my joy is a choice, and so is my wanting to know God more which brings this joy to life.
‘Gripped’ is the image of me fighting with myself. The internal struggle to move forward, the internal struggle to hear and listen to God and His good and perfect will for me and the internal struggle of fighting the unqualified lies, just some from a very long list. Knowing the things that I want to do, those things that will benefit me, build me, challenge me, correct me, heal me, change me and yet these too are the very things I struggle to do. I can relate to Paul in his letter to the Romans 7:15. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do. But what I hate, I do.”
Do the struggles get less as we get older? I am learning they get put in their place much easier the more I understand God’s truth over my life, the more I seek to know Jesus and His teachings on how to do life, and the more I actually practice what I have learned. Most of all I am learning what trust looks like regardless of the circumstance. It is this trust that stills the noise of the struggles that try to grip me.