I wanted to write about three conversations I had last week. I spoke with three women I’ve met at different stages throughout my life, they’re scattered across the country and have never met each other. They know nothing of each other, yet their current struggles and complaints were very similar. The underlining cry of each conversation was for help and a trustworthy companion. They didn’t all claim defeat but they each seemed to believe they were living defeated lives. They didn’t see themselves as overcomers with victory a mindset away. I had several working titles for this post: The Lie of Powerlessness; The Masquerade of Fear; Self-Defeat: The Only True Failure; and Where My Help Truly Comes From….
Fear is a real illusion. What the women spoke into my ear revealed the fear they are living with in their lives. Their fear is masquerading as an insurmountable obstacle. In each of their minds, they can’t see their way through, around or over this obstacle.
The God I believe in is bigger than anything I can see. He’s the creator of everything in my environment and neighboring environments. Therefore, in my mind, He has control over everything I encounter.
I look up to the hills, but where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let you be defeated. He who guards you never sleeps. He who guards Israel never rests or sleeps.
The Lord guards you. The Lord is the shade that protects you from the sun. The sun cannot hurt you during the day, and the moon cannot hurt you at night. The Lord will protect you from all dangers; He will guard your life. The Lord will guard you as you come and go, both now and forever. ~ Psalm 121, NCV
What part of Christ do you claim?
As I grow in my walk, I become more able to discern various levels of Christians:
- There are those who know of Christ and think saying His name makes them holy
- There are those who claim Christ with no personal experience of Him at all
- There are those who know some scripture and think recitation makes them faithful
- There are those who claim a relationship with Christ but don’t obey His teachings and commands
- There are those who believe in Jesus but don’t have time for Him
- There are those who put Christ on in the morning and take Him off at night
- There are those who dedicate themselves to Christ but don’t share Him with others
- There are those others can see Christ in but who can’t see the Christ in themselves
- There are those who believe God’s word and see Christ in every created thing and being, including themselves
- There are those who die to themselves repeatedly, thereby allowing Christ to increase in them continuously
There are many variations and expressions of Christ in the people of the world. I understand we all have our own personal journey with our Lord. But I have perhaps tripped up on Christians who don’t have faith, hope, joy, peace or love. I believe these spiritual gifts are inter-linked and interactive. Truthfully, what can someone possibly be reflecting of Jesus Christ if they aren’t reflecting His faith, hope, joy, peace or love? How can anyone call themself after Him, if His Spirit has not been allowed to root within them?
Last summer, I asked my readers to pray for me regarding my impatience with the weak-minded individual (see Don’t Be Weak Minded, Please!). I’m not sure if any of you truly heard me, but God certainly did. This year, I’ve been inundated with fearful, self-defeated women who blame everyone but themselves for the circumstances they’ve experienced in life. They complain bitterly that no one is helping them, they have no one to depend on, and no one in their life has proven to be trustworthy. One at a time, I have been able to offer words of comfort and hope, and advice when solicited. But recently, I was overwhelmed by the hopeless frustration and angry resentment being shared with me by women who claim to have faith in the power of Christ to overcome everything they encounter.
Last week, my patience was sorely tested. Actually, as I think of it, the fiery assault against my patience and willingness to support the weak-in-spirit within my circles began in January with a visit to my grandmother (see How do you celebrate a life that was not appreciated during its lifetime?) and continued throughout my tour of Israel in March. Over the course of three days last week, I engaged in long conversations with three women I’ve been a sounding board for throughout the years. Having all three of them unload their emotional burdens on me back-to-back in a matter of days made it clear to me that God is working something out in me. He’s refining His message in me and through me for sure. Through the refining, He’s teaching me the patience I somewhat unwittingly asked for, but knew would eventually come.
I was frustrated when I began writing this post shortly after the third conversation last week. I had gone from gentle rebuke (get over yourself and look at this from another perspective), to irritation at listening to the same type of complaint for the umpteenth time (seriously, you have the power to change your life; begin with one choice at a time), to anger that three women who claim Christ, know scripture and understand something of the nature of praising God, could be so defeated in their speech (thank God for this trial and make sure you ask Him what it is you’re supposed to learn from it). I asked them each about their faith and each was quick to say that their faith was not an issue. They were also quick to recite scripture and teachings applicable to their situations.
This left me flabbergasted. I can’t do more for you than Jesus. He is the Word of Life. Though I consider it my duty to make myself available to anyone who calls on me, my advice will always point you to the Lord (God willing). I’m not interested in having a “scripture battle” and I don’t throw God’s word around like a weapon; I share it as a guidepost. So, if you already know His word, please apply it to your life.
This is what the Scripture says: “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart.”That is the teaching of faith that we are telling. If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and if you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved. We believe with our hearts, and so we are made right with God. And we declare with our mouths that we believe, and so we are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disappointed.” ~ Romans 10:8-11, NCV
After I got over my frustration with the women for what I saw as self-defeatist attitudes, I was able to see an incredible opportunity to minister to the seeds God has planted in them. I can see now that it’s not the quality of their faith I need to be concerned with as much as the quality of my testimony of Christ. How am I speaking and sharing the Word with those who come into contact with me?
But before people can ask the Lord for help, they must believe in him; and before they can believe in him, they must hear about him; and for them to hear about the Lord, someone must tell them; and before someone can go and tell them, that person must be sent. It is written, “How beautiful is the person who comes to bring good news.” But not all the Jews accepted the good news. Isaiah said, “Lord, who believed what we told them?” So faith comes from hearing the Good News, and people hear the Good News when someone tells them about Christ. ~ Romans 10:14-17, NCV
In the same way, trust comes by seeing someone do what they said they would do. With each action that follows a word/declaration/promise, trust increases. The third woman I spoke to last week complained bitterly about being unable to trust anyone, having no one to turn to for assistance with her children and being weary of inviting anyone into her home for fear of how they would take advantage of her situation. In exasperation, I told her, “At some point, you’re going to have to just decide to trust someone. Before you get to that point, you have to trust yourself. Do you trust yourself?”
My question took her by surprise. She paused for a breath of a second and replied, “Yes, I trust myself.”
“Then that means you need to trust your instincts, trust your decisions, trust your resourcefulness and trust your abilities. And trust that God is with you to help you. Start with what you have; start with trusting God and yourself and eventually other people’s untrustworthiness will have no effect on your life.”
And now, dear lady, this is not a new command but is the same command we have had from the beginning. I ask you that we all love each other.And love means living the way God commanded us to live. As you have heard from the beginning, His command is this: Live a life of love. ~ 2 John 1:5-6, NCV
If you are frustrated with an issue in your personal ministry to people in your circles, give your frustration over to God. He’s going test you and the circumstances causing the frustration will increase in scope and intensity. But when you get over yourself, the revelation God gives you will make you a much better vessel for His use.
Be blessed and keep on blessing others with the Word God has put in you!
[Related post: Getting Over Yourself to Perform God’s Will for Your Life ]