Center Of Joy (I’ll Be Open) [Part 2]

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I won’t ever be transparent; share my stories of pain, regrets or anything of that nature, just for attention… I’m not transparent because I want people to feel sorry for me or worry about me, or anything of that nature – ‘cause I know without a doubt that God’s got me. I am transparent because I want others, who might be struggling with the same thing(s), not to feel alone. Because, truth is, no one is ever alone. There’s always somebody who’s been where you are and where you will go. You just have to trust God, allow Him to lead you to those people and be open when He does.

Now, for part two of this blog, officially; I just had to share that:

It took me a while to get here… But sometimes, it’s still difficult to make and keep God the center of my joy. There’s a lot that tries to get in the way. Sometimes I put distractions before me, other times, distractions just happen. So you can say that I’m tearing down my own fortress in a sense. I have to tear down what I’ve built up and allow God to build up something totally different from what I was striving to accomplish. It’s been a fight, all the way, but I’m determined to deny myself and accept God’s way, wholly, with no strings attached.

I remember trying to make speedy progress… And doing that; it led me to being really disappointed. It was sad how I reacted to certain situations or under certain circumstances when I knew good and well, God had it all under control. I was thinking that since I knew better, I needed to have it together immediately. I mean, because, “You know better, you do better”… But I’m human and I don’t always get it right. By the grace of God though, I’ll get where I want to be. I’m definitely not as bad as I once  was with it.

I’ve made time to just worship God in the most random moments – and that brings me so much peace and joy. That’s something I can’t say I used to do at all; progress. That counts for something, right?

My thing is now, when those weak moments happen and the giving is easy… That’s really annoying. Because I know that I know better… I guess all that matters is that I’m striving, right?

Hopefully by the time I’m done with this part, God does a miracle in/through me.

Random Fact: I make it a habit of writing/typing in the moment. I don’t plan or pre-type this stuff, it just flows together (by the grace of God). That’s what I want it to do, so that God can intervene in a way I don’t expect and blow my mind. I want Him to show up and show out. I want Him to take over and I surrender. I want Him in control. I don’t want this to be my show.

Anyway, there was a time when I was really involved with the youth at my church a lot more than I am now… Prayerfully, I can get back to that, soon. But I used to meet with them every Wednesday. And I remember that there was one Wednesday when we talked about God’s purpose/plan for us and how nothing can stop that plan IF WE SUBMIT to follow through with it.

I was watching The Walking Dead, Season One: Episode 4 or 5 (I can’t remember which one). But the man Jim, he was in the mobile home thing (I forgot what it’s called), talking to Rick. But they were talking about a plan and Jim said something like, “God laughs at our plans.”

Truly, I can imagine God getting a kick out of what we think is best for us. I mean, if I was God, I’d probably look down and laugh at my plans. Because when I look back on the stuff I wanted for myself and saw how it all turned out, I laugh as I realize that God’s way is so much better. It’s not always the easy way, but it’s definitely the better way.

God knows best, man. He sees when we THINK we know what we want, when we THINK we got it all in the bag and we THINK we have it all under control. And it’s in those moments that He’s usually trying to get our attention and turn us around the whole time.

After getting a good laugh in (at what we thought was best), I can see God gently drawing us in and then asking, “Are you ready to follow me now and are you ready to do this my way? I want to show you that my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)

When I think about all I want to do, sometimes – I get anxious, I get in a hurry and I want to jump into things without even praying or considering wise counsel. But, in the past, I’ve learned that can/will screw me up. Now, I would rather the next person learn from that (what I failed at) than to watch them make the same mistake(s). I’ve screwed some things up because I was too anxious and impatient.

I wasn’t willing to wait on God and let Him bring the opportunities to me or open the doors for me to walk through. I [almost] always did it my way before now. It wasn’t often that I sat still and let God work, unless I had no choice.

Maybe like me, you’ve been wanting to get somewhere, have something, do or be something that is just not working out for you… It could be that it’s not time for that right now – or simply that it’s not God’s plan for you at all. Is your dream/vision a God thing, or something that you just want really bad out of life? Pray about it and know the difference.

All I know is that God made a promise to us; “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 (ESV)

With that though, you also have to consider the verse before that and the verse that come after that:

Before verse 4: “Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” Psalm 37:1-3 (ESV)

Before you can get to the promise, you have to go through trusting God fully and remaining faithful regardless of what things look/feel like around you. You’re not be afraid of what the next person is doing and “getting away with” (they’re really not getting away with anything). That’s not your concern (2 Timothy 2:4). And honestly, worrying about what others had going on and how hey were getting ahead was one of my main problems. It caused me to take my eyes off of God and focus more on my struggle and the trial that was before me. But God promises that those who are doing evil, their time will come when they fade. Remember that, my friend.

Also keep in mind that if you’re not ready/willing to surrender everything to God and trust Him, there’s no way you can think that God is going to just give you the desires of your heart. You gott’a go through the process of being approved of.

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV)

Why would God bless you with something He can’t trust you with?

After verse 4 (of Psalm 37): “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.” Psalm 37:5-11 (ESV)

Even after the promise was made to give us the desires of our hearts, God is still encouraging us to trust in Him and submit. Will you submit to Him, though?

Receiving the promises of God requires us to be patient. You can’t be so impatient that you start doing your own thing. On the other hand, you can’t be getting caught up in what’s going on around you to the point you start losing sight of what God has put before you.

Fretting only leads to us doing things in our own strength; making rash decisions. We start leaning into our own understanding. And one of my favorite passages tells us not to do that: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8 (ESV)

God wants us to COMMIT ourselves to Him, that’s it. And that means that in/through all things, we are still faithful to Him. Once He sees how faithful we are in our commitment to Him, then He will act.

If you know some people who have been blessed with their desires and then turned their backs on God, He’ll take care of them. Don’t worry about all that. I believe His goal is to show folks their own hearts when He blesses them, knowing how they’ll treat Him later on.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23-24 (ESV)

Though it may not have been their prayer, God is still working to show them their hearts, hoping they’ll forsake their own path and turn back to Him.

And I don’t want to contradict anything that I’ve said so far, but let me just say that the enemy knows how to give you/us the desires of our hearts too. He is good with the counterfeits. Believe me, I know from many experiences. When the devil gives you anything, more than likely, it’s out of season and something that God didn’t have in mind from the beginning. So it won’t last forever, if it does, it’s because you forced it or gave into who or whatever forced it onto you.

Just know that when the Lord truly blesses you, there’s no sorrow added (Proverbs 10:22).

Wait on the Lord and be encouraged in your wait. Encourage yourself in the Lord (press hard through your feelings/walk by faith and not by sight) until things start looking up for you. Even then, still, stay focused. Praise God through the good and bad. Don’t forget Him when you’re blessed with your desires.

You might feel like I did, as if you’re only suffering while you’re waiting. You may be experiencing all kinds of trials and tribulations that are testing your faith, but in due time, God will lead you to the other side of all the struggles. If you don’t give up, you’ll see that none of what’s been going on is/was for nothing. God is up to something behind the scenes. He’s shaping you and molding you into who He’s called you to be. And you’ll see that if you do give up before it’s all said and done (Galatians 6:9).

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:18 & 28 (ESV)

Everything – the good, the bad and the ugly – is working together for your good and His glory. And in time, you’ll see.

How do I know this? Because I’m now reflecting on people like Job, David, Joseph, Moses, Noah, and Jonah – all those guys who saw God work a miracle in/through the mess. God showed up and showed out for them when it really should have been the end for them. So much was working against them, the devil tried His best to take them out – but God had another plan for them.

And if that’s not enough, I’ve seen it in my own life plenty of times. I’d give examples but this would be a lot longer than it is now. I’ve been through some things that if you knew me personally, you wouldn’t believe it. God uses it for His glory though. Somehow, it’s coming together with everything He has called me to be/do in this life.

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