Sometimes I build a wall of cement blocks around myself, keeping them at a comfortable height because I don’t want anyone to see me when I’m struggling, when I’m falling apart. I’d rather let you peek over the blocks to see my crazy curly hair or maybe I’ll give you a little wave to let you know I’m here.
The wall keeps me safe while I’m hurting. Without it, I’m completely vulnerable and that scares me.
But if you’re struggling, then staring at my cold wall with only a glimpse of curly locks or the palm of my hand isn’t going to do you any good. And I want to encourage you.
So today, I’ve hoisted the blocks aside. Please understand, those things are heavy and I certainly didn’t do it alone. I had to surrender the blocks to God. He is the only One who can really move them.
But that’s how much He loves you.
I believe He wants you to read something in my struggle, and I have no idea what that is but I’m trusting Him as I step beyond my protective pile of blocks to let you see me. The real, hurting me I usually hide:
Last week was a really rough one for me. I was beyond discouraged. I was severely depressed. I mean, a heavy darkness like I’ve never known before (and I’ve had some real doozies in the past). Oh sure, I reminded myself of the Scriptures I often share with others when they’re going through something similar. (Joshua 1:9 to be exact.) I put on a “happy face” when I needed to because it’s easier to do that than try to explain something like: “I hurt somewhere on the inside so deeply I can’t understand it. I know God is with me. I know the enemy is trying to steal my joy. But this is so heavy I can hardly move, can hardly take a deep breath. I can’t write. In fact, I don’t want to write. I can’t see clearly or hear God clearly. I’m crumbling, falling apart, crying myself to sleep etc. etc. etc.” Yes, it’s much easier to offer a little smile and retreat to my corner of the world behind my wall.
The discouragement came after I stepped out in faith and obeyed God by speaking to two different groups of women. I still smile when I think how God sometimes calls me to do that when He knows my heart and the fear I have of public speaking. I have a friend who laughed when I explained that to her. Her laughter still rings in my ears and brings a smile to my face. Only God can transform this little girl whimpering in the corner into a woman who can hold a microphone and speak of God without shaking. Only God can do that.
As I mentioned, the heaviness came after I obeyed God. My first thoughts were, I’m terrible at speaking. I didn’t do it right. I failed. I let God down. I let everyone down. (All of which came like flaming arrows, if you catch my drift.) My Father knows my heart and all my imperfections and He is the One who called me to speak, to tell His daughters how our struggles strengthen our faith. I’m sure He planned accordingly for my many shortcomings and stretched His strength to fill in my many, many weak spots.
But then came exhaustion; a total sense of feeling drained. Again, more thoughts like, See, you were just doing it in your own strength and you got it all wrong. If God called you to do it, He would have given you the strength to do it. You certainly failed Him. That was a whopper of a flaming arrow; a big fat lie. God did give me the strength to do it. There was no way I could have made it through that day of speaking without Him. Seriously. I had such peace all day long, even with arrows zooming by my head. It was days later when the exhaustion knocked me over.
Then FINALLY after days of falling asleep nearly every time I stopped moving, of trying to praise God in song, praying to Him and sobbing, breaking down and building a wall so high only God could see past it, God touched my broken heart, my wounded spirit while I rested. I woke up Saturday morning with a real smile and a song in my heart. Some of the words that beautifully played over and over in my heart: I press on.
But that’s not all. I saw something in my spirit: A screen door opening. I don’t know about you, but I often think (and write) about closed doors and waiting on God to open them. This screen door was exciting to see! And the more I thought about it, the more I began to praise God that it wasn’t a heavy, ironclad medieval contraption of a door like I often imaged. It was a screen door. You know, the kind that allows fresh air, the scent of lilacs, and the songs of the cutest little house wrens to flow right in.
While you and I have been waiting for God to open the door, His Holy Spirit has been flowing in to fill our spirits, overflowing and spilling into our hearts. The whole time! We’ve never been alone, just as God’s Word tells us.
So I learned when we’re waiting on God, we’re not staring at a rock solid door, our noses stuck to it as if we’re being punished. We’re staring through the mesh of a screen door at the horizon, getting glimpses of God and the wonderful promises He is working on for our lives. We get to smell the rain, hear the thunder, and appreciate His creativity blooming all around. We get every bit of that while the Holy Spirit, our wonderful Comforter, holds us and waits with us.
You see, God wants us to wait with Him while we’re waiting for Him. He wants us to talk to Him, cry out to Him, and REST with Him while He’s preparing to open that screen door for us.
That beautiful, creaking screen door that will open up our world to His will and His plan for our lives.
Can you see what’s out there? Can you look past the screen door, past the porch, beyond the horizon? Can you see all that God has for us?
Me neither! But I know my God, and I know it’s going to be jaw-dropping good.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NIV.)
“The Lord replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’” (Exodus 33:14 NIV.)
“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14 NLT.)