I've mentioned before how I am always reading through the book of Psalms in my morning quiet time, but this morning I started reading Philippians. I recommended that one of the girls at church start there in her quiet time, because it's a small book, and not overwhelming. (I do recommend that for those who are interested in a consistent quiet time....start with a small book in the bible and just start reading it. Sometimes the thought of reading the bible more can be intimidating and overwhelming.)
Anyway, I had the thought that I should read it too, so she would know that I walking through it with her. For some reason, though, when I started reading this rich New Testament book written by Paul, I started reading it out loud. Have you ever done that? There is something so powerful about reading the word out loud. I find that I pay more attention to what I'm reading, I really absorb what is being said better, and I use inflection in my voice.
I promise you, that in doing this today, God showed me something.
But first, I need to rewind a bit.
Lately I keep finding myself in really uncomfortable situations. Situations where I have to face something or confront something. If you know me at all, you know that I really struggle with being a people pleaser. I want people to like me, to not have reasons to talk about me, and I want people to like my family. It's so dumb, I know, but I really struggle in this, even when I pray for myself all the time to be changed. I know God hears me, but I keep bearing this burden, and I can't seem to help it or be able to stop it.
I know that nothing I struggle with is an accident, though. In fact, the bible tells me in Romans 8:28 that, "We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose." He takes what we go through and He refines us. (A fancier word for this refining process is sanctification.) I'll be honest here: I seem to rely more solely on God when I face times like this, times that make me uncomfortable. I do not know why that is, except that I am a human being and I have a sin nature. I don't want to rely more on God in these times, though. I always want to rely on God. In praying with a friend this week, she said something similar, and it struck a chord with me, even more so right now.
I want to ALWAYS rely solely on God.
So this morning in my prayer, I asked Him to change me (AGAIN). I feel like I am always confessing things to Him that He reveals to me, areas of sin that I struggle with, and I am always asking Him to change me. Don't get me wrong: I am so thankful that He convicts me of my sin...I ask Him to always keep it before me, lest I become too prideful or boastful. When I ask Him this, He is faithful to do it! (Probably more than I'd like...kidding, kidding...but not really.)
Back to Philippians and this morning, though. I started reading and finished the book and I noticed that several times Paul mentions anxiety or peace or worry or how to think on things differently (1:17, 2:28, 4:6,4:7, 4:8, and 4:9). In noticing this, I realized that Paul, the main writer of the entire New Testament, must have struggled with anxiety. And in thinking on that shocking truth, I think that people pleasing tendencies and anxiety are closely connected.
I struggle with both of those things, and it can be quiet debilitating. I don't want to be clenched in the imaginary fists of these issues. I want to live my life FREE of these struggles, a victorious life. And guess what? I can. It's right there, within my grasp, but sometimes I can't reach it. Why? Because I don't pray for it. Prayer dependency is the key to many things in the life of a believer. If only I would always remember this. I don't, though, and I won't always remember this day...all too soon, I'll forget it happened and once again, I'll find myself back in a rut.
The good news in all of this here is that God will continue to refine me. When I struggle again with this problem, I know that He will be faithful to remind of this truth that I realized today. I know that He will forgive me of human nature and He will change me again. He is a God of second chances, and third chances and fourth chances and so on and so on.
My verse that I'm memorizing right now ties in so beautifully with this blog post. (Isn't it so cool of God to do that? His word is living and active!) In this verse, Paul asked God THREE TIMES to remove the thorn (figurative thorn) that was in his side. Three times the Lord did NOT remove that thorn. Here's what He had to say to Paul:
But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more in my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may reside in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
One last God thing: This month in my scripture writing, guess what the theme is?
Of course I'm not going to write out those verses without God allowing me to go through a few trenches along the way. My friend Denise said that about teaching bible study: God never allowed her to teach others without first showing her how desperate she was for Him in her life. Meaning, before she would teach us, she would seriously walk through some warfare and fiery paths along the way.
God is ALWAYS good. In the good times, the bad times, the happy times, the sad times, the mountain top times and the valley low times. He is good and His word is true.
Love to all.