Random Blog Clay Feet: 2010-09
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cheek Slap

The sea began to be stirred up because a strong wind was blowing. Then, when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and they were frightened. But He said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid." So they were willing to receive Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going. (John 6:18-21)

This is the story that I am studying right now and documenting on my blog where I record what I am learning. This morning it took on a whole new meaning for me personally.

Yesterday I found myself suddenly in the middle of a very intense storm of unexpected, stirred up emotions. I was blindsided, attacked by a self-appointed 'policeman' who loves to enforce arbitrary policies especially when it gives him a sense of power over others. I was caught totally by surprise and it triggered me in some of my most vulnerable areas which immediately caused a great deal of adrenaline to begin circulating through my veins.

I knew instantly that I was under spiritual attack, not just from this man who delights in confronting and manipulating others, but much more so by my real enemy who remains invisible but who delights even more in stirring up old emotions and shaming me publicly. I was strongly tempted to retaliate, to defend myself, to counter-attack and I did take the bait for awhile, giving this man some pleasure in being able to jerk me around publicly with his advantages over me. But I also realized that there were other people around us who were spiritually vulnerable and who are influenced by my example and I needed to be extremely careful how I acted and spoke.

The deeper issue here was God's reputation, not mine. But the matter was very complex. It was not simply a matter of whether I was following some petty rules made up by a committee in secret that had never been shared with me before. That is what it looked like on the surface. But in reality, there were many facets of this temptation that nearly no one knew about that conspired to lure me into Satan's trap of offense. I knew that instantly and I knew I had to be very careful not to bite that bait too readily or I would fall into that trap of deception and it might take a long time to get back out or recover many things I have gained over the past few months.

As might be expected, this incident and all the emotions surrounding it kept my attention the rest of the day. I woke up this morning early and pondered it carefully as I discussed it with God. I realize that I already have many blind spots that set me up to be vulnerable to this attack and I want to receive healing in all of these areas of weakness that play into this. But because a blind spot is not easily discerned it is difficult to even discuss that with God or one's self because it is hard to see clearly to know what to talk about.

I try to focus on the areas that seem to have the greatest trigger effect on me. That is almost always a sure way to go after the most sensitive core issues that remain unresolved in such a situation. I know that anytime a person is disproportionately triggered by something or someone, it is almost always because there remains a hidden lie deep in the heart that needs to be exposed by God and replaced with healing truth. When the deep core issue is addressed then future encounters with similar triggering situations have little to no effect on the life. That is when one can experience genuine freedom and can begin to truly advance in maturity.

I don't want to get stuck in my maturity growth. I don't want someone else's immaturity to lock me into bitterness or cause me to react in-kind from a desire to get even. It is ludicrous to want to get even with a person who is very immature. To get even with such a person is to copy their level of immaturity, and why would anyone in their right mind want to do that? But that is the nature of temptation in general – getting us to lower our own maturity level. That is why our churches and governments are full of leaders who are very immature. People who thirst for power more than for maturity and integrity generally rise to the top in our culture today. That is what sin has done to our thinking and our social relationships.

As is often the case, God arranged for the readings for today to match my situation. Funny how God always knows when something is going to happen and arranges years ahead of time to have that topic covered on that exact day when someone compiles a book. Both of the devotional books I am reading addressed my situation rather eloquently and I accept the messages God is giving me through them.

Watch when God shifts your circumstances, and see whether you are going with Jesus, or siding with the world, the flesh and the devil. We wear His badge, but are we going with Him?
...We have the idea that we ought to shield ourselves from some of the things God brings round us. Never! God engineers circumstances, and whatever they may be like we have to see that we face them while abiding continually with Him in His temptations. They are His temptations, not temptations to us, but temptations to the life of the Son of God in us. The honor of Jesus Christ is at stake in your bodily life. Are you remaining loyal to the Son of God in the things which beset His life in you? (My Utmost for His Highest September 19)

I sensed yesterday that this temptation was designed primarily to steal away my fellowship with Jesus and my sense of His presence and leading in my life. But at the same time, Jesus was allowing this confrontation to expose weak areas of my life that still are in need of repair and strengthening. My problem is that I don't know how to properly respond yet to these situations. Because they are my weak areas I am weak in knowing what to do. I guess the main thing I need to do is to cling to Jesus and not allow anything like this to divert my attention from focusing on God's goodness and faithfulness and His presence with me. That's what Chambers said here. Continually abide with Him in His temptations in my life. It is Jesus being tempted here and I need to let Him handle them. I also need to not forget to keep an atmosphere of praise and gratitude in my spirit no matter what is going on around me.

I still don't know how this is all going to play out. I still feel very raw from this attack but at the same time I realize that I must pray for this man and experience the passionate love of God flowing through me for him. I need to see this man through heaven's glasses instead of my own reactive emotions which is going to be starkly different. And I have to do this at the heart level, not just put on a facade of 'Christian piety'.

There is much more than just my feelings toward one person involved here. Other sore relationships are involved as well. In addition there is also the issue of a lack of respect between many people who are part of this group along with a spirit of arrogance and pride. But then, what's new? Those things are always going to be present among growing believers and it is God's job to take care of those problems, not mine. I am not in charge of growing up other people; I have a hard enough time dealing with my own growth in maturity. Yes, other people's issues and pain and immaturity certainly cause problems for me, but my job is to learn to always see them through heaven's eyes and to respond to them differently than what they expect from those they offend. This applies to everyone no matter whether they hold a position of authority or if they just feel like a peon in society.

I also sense that if I choose to respond to this situation better than 'normal' that I have a wonderful opportunity to move into a new phase of growth and responsibility in my own experience. I have no idea what that involves and don't really want to know at this point. But it does feel good to sense that I opportunity to grow up and not remain stagnant or stuck mature-wise. God meets us where we are but He never leaves us where we are. I don't want to be left where I am and so I am actually grateful for this encounter even though it is very painful initially. Growth is often painful because it requires change. But unless I am willing to change I can never grow.

Father, I choose to cooperate with You through this growing experience. I still don't have the wisdom to know just how to relate to all the facets of this problem and I suspect I may have already made a number of mistakes. But what I most want is to remain close to You, to feel Your presence and to know the value You place on me from Your heart. If I have Your assuring presence then I can feel safe enough to face my faults and the weak, vulnerable areas of my soul.
Keep me close to You and help me with wisdom and perspective. Fill me with Your attitude. Allow me to both see these people through Your eyes and feel toward them the way You feel instead of with resentment or shame. Help me keep my eyes on You and see Your attractiveness so that it eclipses all other attractions or attacks.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Meant to Be?

A few weeks ago I found myself standing near this sign which really grabbed my attention. Since one of my favorite hobbies is to sing in a local Barbershop chorus in Illinois, I thought I would capture this sign and let my directors see it to maybe prove that destiny had me in mind when I came across them a couple years ago. Whatever the reason, I still enjoy making harmony with them and bringing pleasure to the hearts of those whose lives we touch with our unique blend of music.
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