I didn't intend on giving it up but a few days ago I heard God clearly asking me what I was doing differently to learn how to abide in him. I was still plugging along doing the things I had been doing and the warfare hit. Hard. I wasn't equipped. I kept hearing him say that I needed to put on the WHOLE armor (like ten times through many sources) of God and I wasn't exactly dressing myself any differently than normal. The storms hit. It was like the movies, people. When the main characters are standing outside at night when all of a sudden there is a downpour. Every time I see a scene like that in a movie I question the reality of the situation. There is usually a gentle sprinkle before the hard rain falls. Not around here this week. We have been having some good days (even seeing God speak to us together) and then *bam* the storm hits us unexpectedly.
We both acknowledge the storms are a tool of the devil. But God is working all of it together for good.
We choose to see the storms differently than our enemy presents them to us (in the form of fear, doubt, conflict, division...).
Have you ever started using a new facewash? The first few days can bring a lot of junk to the surface of your skin that you didn't know was there. You start questioning if it is really working or if your skin is just too sensitive for this type of cleanser. After all, your skin actually looks and feels worse from using it. You press on though. You know it is just unearthing the dirt that your old face wash left behind. Several days pass of faithfully washing your face with the new cleanser and you realize with the touch of your cheek and a glance in the mirror that your skin is actually smoother and clearer than before.
That is what is happening around here. We are dealing with red spots and pimples and rough patches that were being ignored by our old way of living. It hasn't been easy. There have been some difficult
One night after a particularly loud conversation where harsh words were flung in both directions, I went for a drive (not my usual MO). Sometimes being alone helps we hear from the Lord better. He started talking.
I was humbled.
Of the many things He said to me that night one was asking me what I was doing differently to abide in him. It caused me to pause and think about what things in my life I still wasn't surrendering. What earthly things was I relying on when I could be trusting him instead? You guessed it. Coffee came to mind. My socially acceptable crutch/addiction. A friend and I were talking last week about how when we were pregnant with our first child we didn't drink coffee. We gave it up. By the time my second Bundle came around I was drinking one to two cups of coffee again a day. These days I find myself needing 2-3 cups of coffee just to start my morning in prayer and reading. I have been dragging and I am less than peaceful after rolling out of bed and heading downstairs to spend time with My Love before work.
What if I relied on God to start my day? To actually get it started. Not rely on coffee to get to a place to commune with Him. Don't I already KNOW Him to be more than enough?
I came home after my drive and repented to my husband and made a bold announcement that I was giving up coffee until God told me I could start drinking it again.
Day One came and my attitude stunk. I drug myself downstairs and opened my new Bible and started looking up scripture about "awake" and "alert". I wrote them on a sheet of paper. I read and reread them. I bit My Love's head off during this time of "abiding" when he asked me if I wanted to pray with him before he left for work. Cue storm. He didn't exactly understand my process but I knew God wanted me to do this. I knew it would be hard. I kept reading almost afraid of looking up from the pages because I knew I would lose it. My head was already aching from withdrawals. Do you know how troubling that is? That there is actually a physical reaction to giving up something that came before the Lord. My concordance took me to Isaiah 51:9 "Awake, awake, put on strength..." Matthew 24:42 "Therefore, stay awake..." Luke 21:36 "But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place..." Then 1 Thessalonians 5:6,8 "...but let us keep awake and be sober...having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation." I was touched by this subtle reference to God's armor. Finally I followed the word "alert" to Ephesians 6:18 without even thinking and found "praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints." My eyes looked back a few verses and noticed I was right where God had been bringing me to time and time again for a couple of weeks. Ephesians 6:10-18.
Needless to say I was praying and studying these verses many times the first two days I drudged through without coffee. My head ached. My nerves were on edge. And God continues to ask me to give my everything to Him. Today I almost buckled and reached for the cold leftovers from My Love's pot to reheat in the microwave. I didn't wake with a craving on day 3 and announced to myself that I was in the clear. As I lifted the mug up to the machine, my hand hit the door and the coffee spilled all over. Yes Lord. I will continue to give this to you if it teaches me to abide.
What might this look like for you? If you are already reading and praying, consider what else he might be asking you to surrender. There are some things that we think are a non issue but can easily get in our way of hearing from Him. Watching TV, eating sweets, spending money... What is something that you do often that might be consuming some of your ability to abide in Christ?
I have not sworn off coffee forever (please, Lord), but in the midst of the storms of this chapter I figured what better time than now to heap on more weakness. To be honest, it hasn't been the best time but my disobedience would require consequence.
Please don't freak out. My Love and I are actually doing well (today). Some moments feel like we move forward a step and then a storm slams us back five. But we keep walking hand in hand determined to be stronger in him when this battle is through.
After all, we know that the war has already been won.
Our foster parenting classes begin in 2 1/2 weeks. I imagine there will be more storms between now and then. Please pray for us.
Have I mentioned God provided childcare for our classes? That is a post for another day. He really is amazing, people.