Laying it Down

He is the AnswerPraying I can focus the thoughts in my head (running at a ridiculous pace!) to make sense on cyber-paper… please be patient!  So that the real post will make sense, I’ll backfill a bit from the post last month where I put my big girl panties on and shared a medical diagnosis:

Stage IV NeuroEndocrine Breast Cancer

with widespread osseous metastasis…

In other words cancer run amok in the bones.  I haven’t spoken with others – perhaps it’s the same for everyone when they’re first diagnosed…life seems to move at a warp speed whirling around doctors, tests, more tests, medicines, more medicines…chemo and/or radiation. The past few months have been painful, emotional, overwhelming, and odd as it may sound…wonderful! Wonderful to rely on God’s faithfulness, and more wonderful in retrospect to see God consistently in action for His precious children – whether they act like defiant two-year olds… or not!

FAST FORWARD:

March 2015:  This is the meat of this post – sorry for the scenic route, folks!  My family started a bible-study a few weeks ago based on Not a Fan by Kyle Idelman.  I won’t bore you with details of the pitiful rationalization process, but needless to say I’m still on week one of the journaling process… now, if you noticed a trend…yes, hesitancy to write, you are absolutely correct.  Like the quiet riot tendencies I exhibit on a far too frequent basis, I was still resisting God by not completing the journal assignments for the study – after all, the journal is *optional* – sure…every other writer out there knows there’s nothing optional when it comes to the way God speaks to a writer’s spirit…the defiant two-year old…hiding…thinking…”if I don’t write, I’m not vulnerable…if I’m not vulnerable, that rug doesn’t need to be pulled back and swept…right…let me know how that works for you…

It’s not even as if I put my study material out of sight…there are the books…along with my journal, right out in the open…I LOOK AT THEM EVERY DAY! It’s not as if I don’t “have time” – and that’s where I painted myself into a corner… I picked up the book yesterday and guess where the discussion started?

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  – Rev 3:14-16

The verse was easy enough to gloss over UNTIL I read the author’s words: “If you are to be hot, then you must be sufficiently heated.  Every stimulus you allow in your life will heat or cool your love for Jesus.” which were followed by a series of exercises to examine a typical day.  Keep in mind:

  • I’m not working,
  • I’m off chemo right now (recovering from the first two months),
  • Due to physical restrictions, I’m not constantly on the go or spending time on house projects

Looking at my typical day, I was embarrassed and convicted.  The amount of time I dedicated to God dwindled at an astronomical rate.  I praise Him daily and profess His Mighty Goodness and pulling back all at the same time.  But why????? Hello. Circle the mountain again Celeta.  The incredibly painful lesson I haven’t revisited for almost a year came blasting into clarity: I’m still struggling with performance based worthiness.  As I looked over the pages, I kept thinking, “It’s so much easier being a giver and now I’m just a taker” – why yes, I was feeling sorry for myself…but the thoughts are deeply rooted and apparently I didn’t let the Gardner of my Soul clear out all the weeds in my heart – translation? Unbelief.

Ugh…my head knows His truths – the circuitry to my heart is still a little faulty…

And guess what?  That’s okay! God is faithful and persistent because He loves each and every one of us and will consistently meet us EXACTLY where we are – two year old attitudes and all.  We each have a choice EVERY SINGLE MINUTE of EVERY SINGLE DAY: will you choose Him? God will teach me whatever I’m willing to learn from Him.

Lay it at the CrossAt some point, most believers have experienced the opportunity to physically lay cares at the foot of a cross – for me, it was a very powerful experience – so powerful, my daughter made me something very special – a shadow box where I can write and leave cares at Jesus’ feet.  Now, take a moment and look closely at the box…granted, this is the original  photo, but it’s still looks pretty darn empty today – speaks volumes, doesn’t it? I look at the cross every single day and yet I hold onto so many cares troubling my heart.  A pattern of unbelief I didn’t recognize before.  Yesterday I pulled out the ONE item I wrote and placed at the foot of the cross – it was a prayer to God over my work situation last year – in the weeks that followed, I left my corporate job and God blessed my obedience and trust in Him more than ten-fold.  You see for me, I only know I’ve really laid it down (and left it there) when I experience perfect peace in the days and months (or years) following.

Sisters and brothers, God is waiting patiently to show up and show off in our lives!  The lesson I’m still learning? Give your cares to Him freely and let Him show off!  Lean into Him and HOLD ON! Claim His strength, His favor, His healing, His provision – even when we can’t see the way…HE IS THE WAY!

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What’s Your Temperature?

In today’s society, it’s easy to find ourselves trying to “fit in” to whatever social norm seems acceptable, which ultimately means we’re motivated externally vs. internally.

15“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”
– Revelation 3:15-16

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Do you ever wonder why it is perfectly acceptable and encouraged to go “all out” for things like a favorite sports team, our children’s activities, our careers, hobbies, politics, etc? We wear t-shirts pledging our loyalty to one thing or another, we go to conventions and parties, paint our vehicles and some even paint their faces. We spend substantial amounts of time with others talking about accomplishments, stats, strengths and weaknesses, strategies, and the list goes on. We invite friends into our homes to watch movies or sports on television; we play card games and attend other social gatherings. We invest time and money and more time and more money….

From a social perspective, spending time on those types of things is perfectly acceptable, isn’t it? And yet, striving to live full-throttle for God is often viewed as fanatical or radical behavior….and not in a positive way – why is that????

Granted, feathers may be ruffled or even bristled right about now and that’s OK. I’m not saying those activities are right or wrong – the point is, do we believe God desires, let alone deserves, that kind of attention and more???? Does God want us living for Him in the “normal” temperature range? Or does He desire to see a burning passion? According to Scripture, He’d rather we live our lives for Him or against Him…in other words, lukewarm complacency is not the desired result, folks.

How would we feel if God’s level of interest in our daily lives was less than 100 percent? It’s not as if He takes an interest only when we’re obedient and focused on Him. He is fully invested 24/7 – and it’s usually when we seek Him that we start to catch on to the finer details…

Here’s a personal example: One of the biggest challenges I struggle with is believing God’s call on my life. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? My desire to understand what He’s calling me towards so I can come up with a game plan is crippling me; as a result I’m left feeling overwhelmed and frazzled because I don’t understand the future. Being so wrapped up in getting from point A to point B is blocking Him from showing up and showing off in my life!

The thing is, the desire to control circumstances is like putting God on hold – it’s hovers us in the “normal” temperature range. It’s not as if He doesn’t care about our struggles – He does! He is so interested in helping us move forward, what does He do???? In addition to His Word, He provides examples in ways we can relate!

When I was really struggling, He sent me three separate examples of how others face the same struggles…in a message from Joyce Meyer, Family Life interview with Priscilla Shirer, and through a blog…and that’s just in one day!

So the real challenge we all face every single day is to move beyond circumstances of life and live for God versus self. It’s not about what we can do. It’s about what He can do. And it’s always about someone else’s story.

How do we move beyond circumstances? Joseph is a great example. It didn’t matter if he was a slave, a personal servant, a prisoner, or second in command; he lived each and every day for God – no complaining, no whining about circumstances. The choice is ours…are we in or are we out? I say let’s choose to seek Him daily by digging into His Word and live to exhibit a genuine level of passion for Him far exceeding any worldly interest. In other words – let’s get serious, look beyond circumstance, move out of the social “normal” range, and get radical!