Thursday, December 17, 2009

Day 147 - always together... and rocks.

I have a video of Anderson recorded on my phone. It was recorded right before his first spine surgery on Memorial Day 2009... maybe a week after we had found out that there were multiple tumors growing all along his spine.

In the video he wanted to tell me and remind me that "I love you... I love you a lot. Everything's going to be ok... because we're always together".

I used to watch it over and over again, every night when I felt lonely. Sometimes I just wanted to see his face again, see his eyes, his mouth moving... sometimes I just wanted to hear his voice. It'd make me cry, but I'd usually feel better even though we weren't together anymore.

Sometimes God uses people to speak to us... to speak His truth to us. Today it really hit me how powerfully God has used Anderson to speak God's truth to me by his love for me. Through loving me the way he did... with a love that only comes from God... Anderson really gave me a glimpse of the love that God has for me. God spoke the words through Anderson's mouth... everything's going to be ok, dearest... because I am always with you, and we're always together. Everywhere I go and everything I do, God is here with me. Loving me, encouraging me... protecting me, guiding me.

It is better to be in a storm with Jesus than to be anywhere else without Him. I would rather be in a fiery furnace with Jesus than in a palace without Him. I would rather be in a lion's den with Jesus, or in a prison, or even shipwrecked, than to be elsewhere without Him. As long as I know Jesus is there, then I can get through it. -Greg Laurie
I've been thinking a lot lately... about rocks. Silly thing to think about, I know. I've said it before that someone once told me that I was like a rock... in that it seemed that I was solid and emotionally unaffected by whatever was going on around me. I think it might have seemed that way to her because I varied little... however the constancy that she saw in me was not because I was unwaveringly grounded and solid... like a rock... it was because I felt no emotion. I'd put up so many walls so high, so completely surrounding my heart that nothing could reach it... and because nothing reached it... my heart was little and weak. Thinking about it... I think I'd surrounded my heart with walls of cold, hard, gray rocks. Being surrounded by them, my heart became LIKE them... my heart was a rock. If your heart is the wellspring of life... uhm... mine was dysfunctional. Life was gray, life was cold. So in turn... I was gray and cold and probably entirely unattractive.

If I was impenetrable... like a rock... I could at least make the most of it by being consistent. I'd been hurt by people who promised things and never followed through. I'd made it a point that if I said something, I'd do it or at least try my best to. I didn't want to have people know me as someone who would say one thing but expect that I would never do it. So I strived for consistency and reliability. That's where that attribute came from. Been working on it ever since I was in... jr hi or high school.

I think a lot of people probably look or looked at me and saw my rock wall. It used to take a special type of person who could look beyond the rock wall and see my heart for what it was. Or maybe I allowed a little hole here or there and if someone happened to be walking by, they'd get a tiny glimpse. I don't really know what my first boyfriend saw in me. I actually don't even remember the first time we met or the first time we talked. All I remember about that time was that... someone saw me. Someone noticed. Someone sought me out and I began to feel. All those sappy songs that people write to try to describe love... they started to make sense. And then Pandora's box of emotions flew open. Pandora really let loose especially after we broke up. What a mess. Needy, insecure, manipulative, prideful... all of that was revealed. I cared a whole lot, but I was selfish. In that relationship was my first major testing. I was not strong, like a rock. I was more like those jelly beans that look like rocks. I could not take the pressure. I could not stand upright.

I don't know who writes for Bible Pathways but here's one from today...
You do not put your trust in one you do not know, and the great problem is that so few take the time to really know God by daily praying and reading His Word. Many have heard much about Him; but when problems come, their hold is so slight, their acquaintance so superficial, that they do not know the power of God.
I think that's what was revealed to me. I didn't know the power of God.

Yesterday's Experiencing God talked about being built on a rock. What does that mean? It means that if your life is a house, to be built on a rock is to build your life on a solid foundation... the chief Cornerstone... Jesus, who is the Word of God. Truth. Why is it important to be built on a rock and not on sand? When the storms of life come... those who are attached and standing on the rock, will not be shaken, your house/life will not crumble, the ground will not give underneath your feet... and you can have peace and assurance knowing that you are safe. So no matter what's going on all around you... no matter if the love of your life is diagnosed with brain cancer, no matter what the storms of life throw your way... you will be able to say that I've got the secret to peace no matter my circumstances. Peace that's not dependent on the weather, but upon the security of being with and near Jesus.

So really... it's not that I want to be a rock... I need to be built upon the Rock. And the rock walls I put around me had to come down in order for that to happen.

More from Experiencing God... how to be built on the Rock... it involves "systematically striving to implement the truths of God's Word into your life. Spiritual depth and maturity do not come without consistent effort" (Blackaby & Blackaby, 2006, p. 367). Ya like my APA in-text citation? I've been writing lots of papers lately. I'm not gonna put a references list at the bottom of this post tho. Sorry. Anyway, back to building on a rock... Blackaby & Blackaby make the point that building on a rock is hard. It's laborious and tedious, however, it is secure.

I don't think I ever thought about it being hard. Never consciously anyway. Interesting. I think I'd always just heard that verse and said, yeah the wise man builds on the rock cuz it's smart and the foolish man builds on the sand because he's dumb. I'll just choose the rock cuz I wanna be smart about it. Yeah. I didn't get it. And I don't think I was doing it for most of my life... I probably just thought I was.

It takes great sacrifice to build yourself on the Rock. It takes discipline. The building materials are not easily obtained... they come from God and you need to ask for it. Thankfully though, when you ask, He is faithful and generous to give it. Daily going into His Word and applying it in your life is like building up your house with true and trustworthy materials... even if it's not what the world would want you to use... even if it looks like reject stuff on the outside according to what man sees... have confidence in knowing that God's Words are not junk, are not worthless, and irrelevant. It is incorruptible. It lives, it's truth, it never fades, it endures forever.

Thinking back... this past year... I really wanted to follow God's example by setting up memorials or festivals or just demarcate certain significant times or events in my life for the purpose of truly remembering God's faithfulness, His power, and His deliverance in my life. To remember and to give Him glory for all the work He's done in my life.

So I sat down and I thought about it. I thought there'd be a whole lot that I could memorialize. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that pivotal junctures in my life which I thought were meaningful were just stepping stones... training ground... to prepare me for this year. Every little breakthrough was a little lesson here, a little lesson there... all culminating and strengthening me for the major storms of this year.

I could only think of two events. (1) our wedding and (2) Anderson's death.

I think I'll elaborate on those two events at another time. I more wanted to talk about how much the recent storms of my life have impacted me.

You really never know how strong something is until it's tested. Like... is that really a rock or is it a jelly bean that looks like a rock? Here's a fun picture of jelly bean rocks.

So... yes... testing. Pressure. Fire. It's a good thing. Don't get mad at the source of pressure or at the fire itself. Get mad because your house is crumbling under the weight of it or being burned up. These are the times that alert you that you need to do some reinforcing in this part or that part. It's not the storm's fault that I used shoddy materials or that I didn't spend much time and care building up one part of my life... it's my own fault. Now that I know, I can work with God to build it back up the right way, the strong way... on the Rock and in the manner to which He wanted me to build it in the first place. It's like rain revealing a leaky roof. Do we get mad at the rain for revealing the leak or pay attention to the leak and plan on fixing the roof?

Anything that disturbs my peace, any negative emotion, any harshness, bitterness, anger, frustration... all of those things are signs of sin in my life. Weak places in my heart that I'd neglected that only come to my attention when I'm tested.

So how do you know when you've come out of the testing with approval? No leaks, yes. No negative consequences. But there are positives that you can look for.

1 Peter 1:6-7
6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Genuine faith resulting in praising, honoring and giving glory to God after refinement by fire. Good stuff.

OK, tired of writing, but still more to say. Maybe another day.

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