How to Be What Your Heart Longs for You to Be

I read something a couple of weeks ago about how God transforms us from ugly ducklings into beautiful swans. I related to the ugly duck in the illustration; feeling untransformed with SOOO far to go before I am truly beautiful.

Later that same night, while on the phone with my mother, I stopped at Food Lion to pick up a few groceries. As I stepped out of my car and nearly onto a little rubber ducky that was right outside my car door, I chuckled out loud. My mother questioned why I was laughing and I told her the story that was still fresh in my mind. When I told her I felt God had left the duck to confirm what I was thinking, she said that didn’t make sense. I was, in her estimation, the beautiful swan.

I mumbled something about feeling like the ugly duckling and picked up the toy and tucked it into my purse.

I know the Bible verses that speak of the truth of our transformation and new life in Christ. I’ve read numerous books on how to discover your true beauty and feminine identity in Christ; I’ve fasted until my hair was falling out by the handfuls; prayed until my vocal cords were strained; stayed awake countless nights on my face praying for deliverance; listened to Joyce Meyer tapes until I could recite her sermons from memory; been a part of eGroups, small groups, self-help groups; attended church Sunday morning, Sunday night and then again on Wednesday; served the homeless; practiced hospitality; interceded for my family and friends; and spent hours soaking in the Presence of God in personal communion, repeatedly, for years and years.

Yet, I still struggle to walk in the full conviction of God’s love for me or in the full authority of my position in Christ. Many days I still feel like an ugly duckling longing to be a beautiful swan or a Cinderella, an unwanted servant, dreaming of the day God will rescue me and make me the princess I long to be.

I definitely still struggle with all kinds of mental and emotional hang-ups.

I have days when I experience shame over my personality, my looks, my job, my mistakes and weaknesses, my very self.

I am sometimes selfish and self-absorbed.

Fast forward to this past Sunday: After cleaning my room my eyes fell on the rubber duck, sporting a sheriff’s badge (I knew there was something to this detail, but what?) sitting on my mantle and I thought, “I need to just throw that away instead of leaving it there as a constant reminder of how I don’t measure up.’

‘No.’

I began to pray, “When I have become the swan that I know you want me to be, show me a swan as a sign that I have been transformed.’

‘Oh, and God, make it obvious!’

During the church service later that night our preacher broadcasted via satellite the pastor and congregation of one of our new campuses that just opened. Out of the blue, our preacher asked what the new campus pastor was wearing, likely referring to what was all over his shirt.

He started to explain that he had rolled up his jeans, to which our preacher interrupted him to let him know he was referring to his shirt. It was such a random off subject thing and I knew the minute that he answered, ‘Geese,’ that it was my sign. I wish I had the video clip! I don’t know how it was worded, or even how it came about, but somehow our preacher directed the congregation to begin flapping their wings like geese taking flight. In unison, thousands of people, including myself, spread our arms and began flapping them like wings.

Wow! Realizing this was my sign, I slid out my phone to google, ‘What is the difference between geese and swans?’ The first answer I pulled up was this:

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What stood out to me was, “Swans are usually fairly awkward on land, and are either white, black or black and white. And about geese, ‘They are comfortable walking on land… and there is a variety of colors…’

By the end of our pastor’s sermon these definitions spoke volumes to me as to why God chose to represent to me what I had become in the form of a goose instead of a swan. He preached about the crippled by the pool of Bethesda, with a different perspective than I have ever heard on this story.

Most people will have heard how this man didn’t take responsibility for having not made it first into the pool for healing, even after 38 years as a cripple, or how he seemed to be full of self-pity.

It’s easy early on in our walk with God to assume a person that has been saved for a time should be doing better than they are, walking in more healing and greater levels of glory or moral character. But with experience we begin to understand that when someone has been crippled for years and years, when they have been a victim of abuse, or suffer from mental disorders, come from generation after generation of family dysfunction, or whatever else, they can’t just stand up on their own.

Should I be further along in my walk with God? I think so, and so I ‘try’ harder, which leads to me realizing how helpless I am to change myself and feelings of defeat.

Jesus asks, “Do you want to get well?’

The man’s excuses didn’t stop Jesus from healing him. The length of time he had been in that condition didn’t faze Jesus either.

The pool of Bethesda is surrounded by 5 covered colonnades and is recorded in the 5th chapter of John.

Five is the number of grace.

I know there are things in my thought processes that aren’t ‘normal,’ and have wondered if God will ever change my brain chemistry to work the way that I want it to in order to make surviving life easier for me, but I am learning to accept that only by His grace and on his Word can I can pick up my mat (carry with me the things from my past that represent the crippled that I once was) and walk. Maybe it’s not meant for me to leave all signs of my past struggles behind. Jacob had his limp; Paul his ‘thorn in the flesh.’ But God’s grace is sufficient. And I am healed. God showed me clear as day.

Contrary to how I sometimes view myself, I am not walking with God ‘awkwardly.’ 

Could it be God was showing me I am better equipped (in all my obvious weakness) to walk with God then if I appeared more perfectly beautiful like the swan?

Geese are more colorful then the swan; maybe the pace of my healing, and my flaws aren’t as black and white as the enemy would have me believe?

In the service God revealed the mystery of the ‘sheriff’ badge on my little ducky. I had begun viewing myself through the eyes of the law again. (long battle) As long as we measure ourselves by the standard of the law we will always come up short and feel like ugly ducklings.

On the way home from the service I was telling Forrest about all that God was speaking to me and we drove by a set of swans. I knew God was pointing out that we are both transformed by the grace of God and told him as much.

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We all are! Our pastor called the whole congregation to flap their wings. As believers we are all given a measure of faith.

Faith gives us wings to fly.

By faith, through grace, we are new creations in Christ; precious and perfect in His sight, right now where we are.

 

Cast Your Care

Stop trying to take care of yourself and let Me take care of you. You fret and worry; plan and connive, all the while I stand patiently waiting for you to turn your ear to My Words to you.

My words are life and will be a light showing you the way you are to walk.

Your worry offends Me.

Do you not understand that I have worked out every last detail in a plan of care for you and the ones you love?

Cast your care on Me.

I am not asking you to abdicate your responsibility, but to stop carrying the burden of care that weighs you down and steals your joy and hopeful anticipation.

God’s Blessing & Personal Way to Fear Deliverance

My heart is pounding, my breathing labored. The fear is real! God speaks, answering my call for confirmation. ‘Is this the Way?’

I’ve been planning to drive 2 hours to meet a friend that is weekending in Asheville, NC at the beginning of April for just that Saturday. I had rejected the idea of staying overnight because even though my son is 18 now, I fear leaving him home alone for the weekend. I fear him falling into temptation.

It’s a silly fear really. Most fears are, to outsiders. But the fear feels real to me.

Last night I dreamed I was booking a hostel out of town. The place where I was booking the room was a ‘Christian’ place. There was more to the dream, but for the purpose of this story, it is enough to share that I woke up knowing God was showing me that He had an overnight trip planned for me. I wasn’t to come home until Sunday evening.

This means missing church! Gasp. Scandalous.

God wants me to take a trip without my teenager and miss church?

Will Forrest ask a friend for a ride to church? Will he go to one of the parties I know he turns down on weekends I am home?

The questions assaulted my mind. I googled places to stay. No booking a room this morning. Ill need more confirmation! And then…

Today’s Oswald Chambers devotional read in part,

‘Where does Jesus Christ figure in when we have a concern about our natural relationships? Most of us will desert Him with this excuse— “Yes, Lord, I heard you call me, but my family needs me and I have my own interests. I just can’t go any further” “Then,” Jesus says, “you ‘cannot be My disciple’ ”

True surrender will always go beyond natural devotion. If we will only give up, God will surrender Himself to embrace all those around us and will meet their needs, which were created by our surrender. Beware of stopping anywhere short of total surrender to God. Most of us have only a vision of what this really means, but have never truly experienced it.

…I get it God. I know you’ve got me, my best interests (A trip where I am meeting one of my dearest friends in a place where I have been longing to go), my sons best interests, and our greatest good in mind.

Looks like God is treating me to a lovely adventure and assuring me that as Forrest’s Father, He’s got plans for him too.

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Side note: Forrest has spent the last two summers away at ballet intensives and I have been fine with it. There were chaperones and as with today’s example, God confirmed his will and brought me peace. I have lots of fears but God is walking me through them all, even if he has to walk me through the same ones repeatedly before they no longer plague me.

This is just one example of the process. I venture to guess there will be other strategically placed signs of assurance between now and then. He’s just good like that; patient with my weakness and fears.

How does God help you in your fears?

Diary: November 7, 2011+ Today’s Prayer

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I am astonished anew on a regular basis how specifically the Spirit of God leads me. The longer and deeper I yield to Him, the easier it becomes to recognize His voice ‘this is the way.’ This may sound to some like a constraint of my freedom of choice. It is the opposite. I can always choose to yield instead to my fleshes impulse.

It is incredibly liberating because when God shows me what to do, how to do it, and when and where and I know its God, what blessed assurance and rest and a feeling of spaciousness it brings.

I pray that He orders all of my steps and that He will lead me with signs and wonders.

It is a great adventure and since I know that the ending is perfection and glory it frees me up even more.

I want more freedom! Love it.

Freedom from all sin is my goal.

-Photo 2011, Commemorating a year of fire. (Two years in to one of the hardest trials I have ever had to walk through.)

I’m looking back over my old writings with conviction. On some days, having now endured an additional 3+ years waiting for a particular promise to be fulfilled and one incredibly heart wrenching trial to finely end, I grow weary and have to fight harder than before to keep my passion for God burning.

‘Do not grow weary in well doing for you will reap a harvest if you don’t faint and give up.’

Who knew when I heard you speak ‘Hold on… I am working on…’ all those years ago it would take this long! You were wise to keep me guessing, hoping for a quick return for my faith. Could I have endured those early years knowing how they would stretch on and on? Doubtful. And here I am settling into the waiting to the point that my hopeful anticipation is being replaced by complacency.

How can a heart endure hope deferred for so long! How can you stand to watch my heart break over and over again!?

Stir me up Lord. I want to walk daily in the deep joy that comes from the hopeful anticipation of your coming through for me as you promised you would.

Help me not to sacrifice this joy out of the fear I can no longer bear the pain of fully embracing and believing that the desire of my heart will yet still be fulfilled.

Wilderness Wandering

Are you in a ‘desert season?’ Have you been waiting on the fulfillment of a promise past the point of all reason and human hope? Do you feel trapped in your circumstances? Are you suffering lack? Sickness? Weariness?

Do not lose heart! Stoke the embers in your heart and fan them ablaze with passion again.

Encourage yourself in The Lord.

‘To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven’ -Ecclesiastes 3:1

Remember the Israelites and their journey out of bondage and slavery, through the desert, and the battles they fought to take possession of the promised land.

If you remember, Joshua and Caleb were the only men of their generation permitted to go into the promises land after the Israelites wandered and were tested in the desert for 40 years.

2 out of a likely 2.5 million people. Not good odds!!!

‘But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his council. In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wasteland they put God to the test. So he gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease upon them.’
-Psalm 106:13-15

I’m pondering my life and holding it up to the light of the Word this morning.

Does my life more closely resemble the spies that spread a false report? The people that accepted the false report as truth? The impatient, grumbling, idol worshipping, giving into cravings and not waiting on the council of God Israelites?

Or is my life a life of faith and rest, like that of Joshua and Caleb, the men that believed God and had confidence that what He promised would come to pass; that they would be able to accomplish what God said they could?

How we see God, what we believe about his character, and whether or not we take him at his word, colors how we view our life and the world around us.

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed…..

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

-Hebrew 4:1-2; 15-16

I Believe In You Completely

Originally posted on Desert Rose in Bloom:

How pleased I am when my children, in seasons where they can’t see My hand in their situations or feel My Presence in their hearts, continue to place their hope in Me and what they are convinced of about My character. I am not a man that I should lie. Do not attribute the disappointing traits of your earthly parents to Me. Spend time with Me letting Me show you the misconceptions you have about My nature. I believe in you completely.

I created you with a purpose. Do you think it is beyond My ability to use you for the purpose for which you were created? To do through you all that I have prepared in advance for you to do?

Spend time with Me letting Me show you the misconceptions you have about your own nature. You are a new creature. I have removed your heart of stone…

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Growth in Humility Opportunity Number 2,000,001

I was so happy to see Forrest taking notes this past Sunday at church. ‘Yay,’ I thought, ‘between hearing, taking notes and discussing the sermon in his small group, he’s really going to be transformed by this word.’

Growth in humility opportunity number 2,000,001 happened yesterday when, after apologizing for overreacting and being quick to anger, I explained I was under a lot of stress.

Forrest whipped out his Galaxy s5 and began reading the notes he took. ‘High stress does not mean we have to lose our poise….’ 😳😁😏 ‘Roots that go down deep…’ 😐😕😇

God had already been bringing the sermon to my heart, but it was a nice touch and further lessons in humility to have Forrest pull out the notes I had envisioned him benefiting from and having them read to me in parent like concern for my decidenly ‘unpoised’ emotional outburst.

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