A Wrestling Match

My husband flies home today.  He has spent the last eight days in Haiti, serving a mission there through our church.  People do these things everyday.  But the day my husband left, a wrestling match began inside of me with the God of the universe.

As a child, my father had abandoned me, my mom, and three siblings in city with no friends or family.  My mom had no job, no education, four mouths to feed, and was a wreck in every way. Actually, it was the best thing that could have happened to us, because of the extreme abuse he brought into our lives, but that didn’t ease the abandonment at the time.

Even though I’ve walked through years of forgiveness and replacing lies with God’s truth, those scars still can send piercing pain when poked.  And so, the two weeks prior to my husband, leaving, Papa began pulling off Band-Aids on hidden places where these feeling of abandonment still were.  And then sent my husband to Haiti.  I say He sent him, because He truly made it clear it was His will.

So, with my heart raw, I’ve walked out this week with God. You would think I would have just been covered with angels wings and blanketed in peace all week.  He’s a good, good father, right?  He certainly is, but this week, instead of protecting me from my fears, He has chosen to take me by the hand and walk me through them.  Sometimes, the Good Shepherd leads you by the quiet, peaceful waters, and sometimes He takes you straight into the valley of darkness.

At the beginning of the week, God gave me Psalm 23, but He said, “Read it in a different translation than your norm.”  I have held on to this scripture passage  all week.  One part reads, “Fear will never overtake me, because He already has.”

So, as anxiety attacks, which I haven’t had in years, began to grip my chest, and thoughts filled my mind with disaster, I’ve held onto the fact that my Shepherd is with me.  He’s the one leading me, even through darkness.  And it’s not my authority that I’m leaning on.  It’s His.  I’m just a sheep.  Somehow, even with my heart racing I can lean back into His luxurious love.For years, I’ve been afraid of fear.  Afraid if I lose control of my emotions, I would lose my mind.  The enemy has tried that one over and over this week.  But now, I just feel mad that the enemy keeps trying to throw fear in my path.  Even though I’ve walked through this week with a limp, I feel more surrendered to Papa God than ever, because He’s bigger than any storm.

One afternoon, I sat with a friend who was pouring out her heart to me and sharing all these things the enemy had been throwing back up in her face, especially in her relationships.  A wave of feeling overwhelmed began to wash over me too.  Silently, I prayed for wisdom in how to pray for my friend.

“I just am tired of always being the one to forgive.” She lamented.  How many times had I said the same thing?  All of a sudden, this question blurted out of my mouth.  “Who are you doing this for?” She shot back, “Well, for me of course.”  I knew what she meant.  For years, I had struggled to be free for me, forgiven others so I wouldn’t be bound, used my husband as a crutch for my insecurities.  It had all been about me.  What I needed?  How I felt?  I looked my friend in the eyes.  “It’s not enough.” I simply stated.  A look of bewilderment met me.  ”It’s simply not enough.” I repeated with compassion.

“If we only forgive for ourselves, to free ourselves, it’s still a selfish endeavor, because it’s all about us getting our needs met.  We do get the benefit in the process, but we have to do it to please our Heavenly Father, as a loving act of obedience. Until we do everything out of love for Him, it’s not enough.”. We both sat stunned as the realization of that washed over us.  How much of my life has been about me, and not about Him.

I have wrestled with God this week, a lot.  I have cried.  I have paced the floor with heart racing.  I have felt like I couldn’t breath.  I have taken every fearful thought and thrown it at His feet.  I have worshipped Him in middle of the storm.  I have also danced.  I have laughed.  I have leaned back in my Father’s loving embrace and been at peace.  He is the good Shepherd.  I am the sheep.  It’s all about loving and obeying Him.

Hopefully this week I’ve learned how to die to myself a little more, how to trust Him even when I think I may be having a heart attack, and how to squeeze His hand when He leads me through the valley dancing through the darkness.  Maybe my life is a little less about me, and a little more about Him.  And maybe I can rest a little deeper in His arms, because my trust in Him goes a little deeper too.

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