The past two weeks have been hard. Really hard. The level of anxiety and stress I have felt have been more than normal due to work. Do I say this to get sympathy? No. I want you to know that is life no where near perfect or people you may see in church never have sin issues and things they are dealing with. This is not the case. The last blog post I told you to be complete transparent with your sin and be totally real with God who already knows all that about you.
Now, I am going to tell you that there is strength in sharing these things with others. God did not create us to share this life experience with no one. We were made to support each other and to live together in our struggles to hold each other accountable and lift each other up. So here is my next step in being totally honest with God and the people around me.
I have been really mad at God this week. I have felt completely abandoned and overlooked in many ways of my life including my relationship with Jesus. Each year, students take an end of the year test that shows if they do not meet, approach, meet, or exceed state testing standards. Last year, I started off with a class that was not where they needed to be to say the least. My scores returned at the end of that year as a fail even with all the hard work I put into the year. Since that meeting to discuss those scores I have prayed each day for God to validate my path as the right one. I have asked for "wisdom to do my job, and scores to reflect it." EVERY DAY of this year.
Fast forward to this week. My class was #1, the very best, with the best scores in Winter. I was proud of my kids and what they were doing and for once I felt like I was validated in my choice to be a teacher. ("If it's not on paper, does it even count?" rings through my head constantly in this job.) Now to the spring test, my students did not stay #1 or #2 or even #3. It was a total miss from my standpoint and I was a total mess. I went through all the stages of grief in 24 hours. I was angry. I was depressed. I bargained with myself about certain scores. I cried. A LOT. But most of all, I just kept asking, "God why did you forsake me in this? Where are you right now?" I was mad. I was very hurt. I was shocked.
Before the test, I told a friend, "if it doesn't go the way I want and have prayed for, He is still good." But in the aftermath when it did not go the way I thought or wanted, I was mad. I was very hurt. I was shocked. If I really believed that then I wouldn't be so upset, would I? I had to go back to the verses in scripture that this is found and gain some perspective. In Daniel 3, the story is of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and we know how that goes. They refuse to bow down to the King and they are sent into the fire. When asked why they do not bow they answer and say that "16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
As I walk through this most recent fire in my life, do I have the faith like these three men? Do I really believe that or am I just saying that? Here's the bottom line; I have been so upset with the lack of answer to my prayers I have been so upset with God. I am dealing with the feeling of guilt for feeling that way towards such a good Father, I am dealing with anxiety of next steps in my job and depression over if I am equipped to be a teacher which I felt was a calling from the beginning of my life. I have to have faith to believe that in the midst of all of this, HE IS STILL GOOD.
I also say all of that to say, no one is perfect. NO ONE and in the midst of your fire (depression, issues with relationships, high school fears, worry from next steps in your life after high school, your lack of relationship with Jesus, etc.) do you believe that HE IS STILL GOOD? He is. He is so good even when it doesn't go the way I want. Even if not, HE IS STILL GOOD.
This Sunday I am doing something scary. I am sharing my testimony with the church. Since most of your know that I am a teacher you would think that me talking in front of other people is a skill I have in abundance. I teach little humans not grown humans. It’s two completely different things and no one can change my mind about that fact. The fact of the matter is that when you have grown up in church you hear so many testimonies about how their lives were changed from a path of drug addiction or a abusive relationship, lack of a father at home and then you think to yourself, “Wow, my testimony is useless. It is nothing like theirs and I have nothing to offer up as a testimony.”
That is a lie from the devil himself. He is lying to you. Your story and your life has the ability to be used to the full glory of God. TO HIS GLORY. Another lie that we often here from satan is the watered down version of people’s testimonies. They say they got mixed in with the “wrong people.” and that’s all they say. Then we walk around a church that everyone smiles and does the “how are you” dance but they never are really REAL with their failures and weaknesses that lead them to the cross to lay down any burdens. Everyone is great and if I say I am not it’s a sign of weakness or worse, makes me a horrible person. THAT IS A LIE from the devil himself too! The people that surround you in the pews are not perfect, we are not blameless. We have or still are facing the same battles that you face or have faced and we still have things to lay down at the feet of Jesus each week.
I say all of this because it has been a point of growing and understanding for me this week and that I want to be 100% real with you so you will know it is ok to be 100% real with Jesus. In Psalms 10 David starts the chapter with these verses “Lord, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide in times of trouble?” David’s relationship with God is so real and authentic. David cries out to God over and over and is so real with his struggles and the LORD fights for Him. Delivers him from his enemies.
No matter your struggle, your sin affliction, no matter your “ghosts” in the closet, He already knows them and for those that trust in HIM, HE will deliver us. BE REAL WITH JESUS. He is the friend you always needed, he will never turn away from you when you bring your struggles to His feet. For once in your life be 100% real with someone instead of hiding everything and acting like you are ok. It is totally scary but He never says it would be comfortable.
The Lord has a funny way of putting patterns and lessons in our path way and He has laid the pattern of His truths in the form of "R" words to me lately. Last week we talked about the "refuge" that Christ is for us and the beauty in the fact that He is our hiding place for safety and comfort in the good and bad times.
This week He has led us to the word of "Restore". In probably one of the most well know chapters of the Bible is Psalm 23, Psalm 23:3 states, "He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake." Other translations say "refreshes" or "renews" our souls. Over the past few weeks I have been pressed to pray for the daily struggles that are presented in each of our lives from different places. In our sinful nature that are sins that we commit in this world daily. The simple fact is that our souls are not tainted by the world and choices that we make each day.
No one is immune from this sin tainting our souls. We fail to stop before going too far with our boyfriends intimately. We fail to not gossip about that girl at school that is just "so annoying". We fail to stop our not Godly words from coming out and before it's too late to take them back. We simply fail. These sins take over our souls if we don't lay them down at the alter of GRACE.
Ladies, HE RESTORES US. He renews our souls and refreshes us! He leads us down the path of righteousness for His glory and purpose for our lives. BUT, we have to lay it at the alter. The complete Gospel of Jesus is that when we call upon His name we are forgiven. We are wiped clean and RESTORED and given the beautiful grace of Jesus. When we fail in our walk with Jesus we seem to forget that we can be restored. We are never too far from Him. We are never too bad for Him. We can always be restored in His love when we come to the alter and lay it down at His feet. .
My prayer for you today is that you allow yourself to be restored. Do not hold onto the times that you have failed. Bring them to Him and ask for them to be forgiven and be restored in His grace. Be real. Be honest. Be transparent with Him. He already knows it but you can never be completely restored in Christ if you do not let it go! I am always available to talk to you and know that I have been in your shoes. I still need to be restored daily. We are in this journey of life together.
Refuge: a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble.
All to often we as people want to be in the safest of places away from danger or trouble. We see people in other countries running to take refuge in different countries to escape danger. We see many people around the world and even our friends taking refuge in drugs, sex, or alcohol to find shelter or safety. They fail to see where the real refuge is in our lives. JESUS.
As I read through the first several books of Psalm earlier this week I kept coming across the same word over and over again; refuge. David writes in Psalm 5:11-12; "But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them shout for joy forever. May You shelter them, and may those who love Your name boast about You. For You, Lord, bless the righteous one; You surround him with favor like a shield."
YES LORD! All too often we want to find refuge and safety in all these other things in the world and we still want all the things in our lives to be good and for our good. BUT, we do not put our faith and take refuge in the Lord. The Lord will shelter you and surround you with favor like a shield when you take REFUGE in Him.
He is the safe place.
He is the hiding place.
He is place to run in times of trouble.
He is our refuge that will shelter us, provide for us, and will surround you with favor for those who take refuge in Him.
Lord, I pray over all that read this, please let them take refuge in you and your name. Thank you Father for showing favor on us who take refuge in your name.
What happens when we gather around a table? Tables can provide many things:
- a place to gather for food
- a place for groups to gather in order to spend time together
- tables at school are places that bring us knowledge
When you think about it, tables are a gathering and feeding place when we are hungry or thirsty for something. It's also a place to gather and fellowship with others.
So what does a table have to do with Jesus and the Gospel? Think about it this way;
when is the last time you have pulled up a seat at Jesus' table? When is the last time you have gathered in fellowship with Him? When is the last time you have been spiritually fed?
There are so many examples of Jesus gathering around a table to share a meal with others and feed them spiritually as well.
- The lady with the alabaster (Matthew 26)
- The meal with sinners (Mark 2)
- The last supper (Luke 22)
He yearns for us to come to His table.
The fact of the matter is that we have so much to do in our daily lives and so many distractions that we do not sit at the table with Jesus. We rarely sit and fellowship with the Lord in His word, prayer, or be spiritually fed.
The mission of The Table ministry is simple... for young ladies to pull up a chair next to the Savior at His table and enter into a time that we are spiritually fed in our fellowship with God the Father and Jesus the Son.