Fear of Abandonment

I was 13 or 14 when I had this horrible dream that my whole family was leaving on a train, and I was there at the station pleading with them not to go, not to leave me behind. That was when I found out that I talk in my sleep. Apparently the other 40 or so boys who were sleeping in the gym that night heard me crying out the same thing I was saying in my dream “Don’t leave me!”.

Almost a full ten years later on a hike with other men, did I ever experience such fear of being alone. The hike started of pretty good, through the first quarter mile or so I was really excited. After that I realized that the whole trip would be like walking up stairs with a heavy pack on my back. After awhile our group split up into two smaller groups. I tried to keep up with the leaders, but eventually I felt the need to stop and not wanting to slow down the others I let them go ahead figuring I would just take my time and wait for the group behind me to catch up. Hopefully saving some energy for the next day that I knew would be grueling. Eventually the trail let me to a fork, and not sure which way to go I had to wait for group behind me.

After waiting fifteen or so minutes I began to notice that my sweat was condensing, and that I was really starting to get cold. It’s at this point that the devil starts whispering in my ear, reminding me that people had died on this mountain, and that I was in danger of the same. I began to pray.

Thirty minutes of standing alone on the trail, I pulled out my cell phone, but found that I couldn’t get any reception, and I start to shiver. How much longer till dark? How long till I’m really in trouble? The other group should be here by now, did they go a different way or worse are they lost? I could just pick a direction, but I risked going the wrong way and then I’d really be in trouble because if it was the wrong way it would take exponentially longer for anyone who might be looking for me to find me. The best plan for me was to stay put, and continue to pray.

At forty-five minutes my faith wavered, and I picked a direction. I hiked for a few minutes on the trail, but didn’t feel good about it. So I started to hike back to my waiting spot. On the way back I decided to try my phone again. That’s when God provided a miracle, I suddenly had cell reception and used the opportunity to call everyone on the cell phone list. Through my chattering teeth I was able to leave a few voice mails asking for help. No sooner had I set down my phone than it rang, one of the guys on the hike was calling me back, to tell me that help was on the way. A few minutes later back at the place I had been waiting before, help arrived from the opposite way I had been trying to go just a few minutes ago. As I hiked to camp, God started talking to me about his role as my heavenly Father, about his faithfulness, and about him never leaving me alone. It was through trial that my view of God as my heavenly Father grew from head knowledge to heart knowledge. I was safe (not that I was ever in any real danger, the devil is a liar) for the moment, but God wasn’t done teaching me and setting me free from my fear of abandonment.

Our trip was all but over, all that was left to do was shower and hop on a plane. The shower felt great, it had been three long days since my last one, and I was savoring every hot drop of water the devil began to whisper in my ear. Insecurities began to surface out of no where, doubts about the newly formed friendships popped into my head like popcorn. I began to wonder what they were talking about while I was out of the room, were they all agreeing that I was really strange and couldn’t wait till I was gone? It’s silly to think about now, but the devil wanted to rob me of any kind of good this trip had been to build me up as the man my heavenly Father wants me to be. But I had learned and grown during the trip, and I began to question the reason behind those feelings (thanks Scott and Seth :)). As I dug I found that my real wasn’t that I didn’t fit in but rather my fear that a group of men I had become really close to would suddenly abandon me. As I thought about that I was reminded of my time alone on the mountain and of my Father in heaven who would never abandon me. It was then that something in me changed and I began to grow, the doubts and fears melted away in the light of the truth.

I still have a long way to go to be the man God has destined for me to become, but I know now that I don’t have to do this journey alone, regardless of how the devil describes my situation.

Death of the flesh

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5.24

“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” Roman 6.6

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darknes and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Col 1.13

God has given me two distinct visions of the death of my flesh.

The first was a vision of a man (Jesus) on the inside of me. He was in my belly with a fire, hollowing me from the inside out. The smoke from his fire was traveling up to my mouth coming out as praise and worship to God. And with every breath in I breathed in the spirit of God. This at first rubbed me wrong way making me think that it was something sacriligious, but now God has worked in me to let go and trust that this is a message from him.

In the second I saw the shell of a man and on the inside it looked like some kind of construction was going on. I could see the scafolding and sparks coming from the welders. As I watched the construction continued to grow bigger and bigger. It reminded me of those spy movies I used to watch where the goverment or the bad guys would build these secret projects in hollowed out volcanoes or caves in order to keep it protected and gain the element of surprise over the enemy. I felt like God was saying to me that He was doing the same thing inside of me. He was creating his secret weapon inside of me so that when the time came he will launch his surprise attack from inside something the world thought wasn’t a threat.

I hope that sharing this with you encourages you as they have with me.

Does God Care?

Have you ever had perfect timing with a stop light? I mean that light turns green just before you start to step on your breaks, instead of the usual where the light turns red and you have to stomp on your breaks to make sure you don’t run a red light. It’s a beautiful thing when it happens.

I’ve had more than one crappy day in my life. Days where I’m driving home or somewhere else, I’m already irritable, and I come up to that intersection where the light is always red (you know the one), and it has to be the longest red light ever created. Wow you should hear the grumbling that goes through my mind as I approach that light. But this time I see that beautiful shade of green, the worries and troubles of the day just seem to melt away. I’m reminded of God’s grace and love. I tell God thank you for this small bit of grace that has suddenly turned into a modern day miracle. I know it’s not parting the Red Sea, but on a day like that it might as well be.

Immediately the thought hits my mind, “Does God really care about you getting that light?”. And from the perspective of the universe as a whole it’s not that big of a deal (neither is my day for that matter). So the natural, logical side of me wins, and I go back to by dreary day. It’s not as bad as before, but that light doesn’t mean the same thing.

At least until the other day.

I was running a bit late for work, which is not the norm (just in case my boss is reading, I wanted to clarify that :)), and I had perfect timing for catching the elevator. Once inside the elevator, I said a quiet thank you to God for blessing me with the elevator. And like normal, the thought hits me about does God really care, but this time was different. The Holy Spirit asked me a simple question, “Don’t you want God to care about the small stuff?”. My reply went something along the lines of “Ummm yeah”. I wish I could articulate what followed, but I just can’t. The Holy Spirit showed me that the relationship that God wants with us is one where even the little things in my life are interesting to him. He doesn’t just want me to share the big things in my life with him, but everything in it, my plans, my feelings, everything. And like wise He wants to share everything with me. Isn’t that wonderful, and doesn’t that challenge us to lead a different kind of life?

The short answer: Yes!

Where did this come from?

You have to understand, I’ve been a Christian since the age of 5, and I’ve been through classes where we focused on the book of John, so I’m assuming that someone just added the 17th chapter of John. Cause I don’t remember reading anything like this before*:

John 17

The Prayer of Jesus

1 After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. 2 For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. 3 And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. 4 I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5 Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.

6 “I have revealed you[a] to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, 8 for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me.

9 “My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. 10 All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory. 11 Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name;[b] now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. 12 During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me.[c] I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.

13 “Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. 14 I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.

20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.

22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. 24 Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!

25 “O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. 26 I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”

I know it’s a lot to read and take in all at once, but for some reason this chapter really struck me today.  I’ve had friends, family, and pastors pray for me throughout my life, but the thought never occurred to me that while on this Earth Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Prayed for me, and if that weren’t enough, if you read the next chapter you’ll find that He prayed this prayer right before being arrested, tried, and crucified. I know if that were me, some jerk a few thousand years off in the future wouldn’t have been the focus of my prayers right then.

Jesus prayed for me. Now that brings a smile to my face.

I don’t know, but something about this passage really struck me today and really lifted me up. And I wanted to share. 🙂

*Footnote: Yes I know that the Bible is the immutable word of God. I was merely trying to give you an understanding of how this chapter came out of left field and smacked my heart.

*BibleGateway for the win!

Fighting the Man Pleasing Spirit

As I briefly mentioned before our Church is watching John Bevere’s Breaking Intimidation movies and while they’ve been very deep and thought provoking I think God is trying to say something specific to me.

From my daily scripture readings this week:

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble? Psalms 27:1

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Romans 8:31-34

I started reading Romans 8 after listening to one of my dad’s old sermons that Brit had posted on the web. (Isn’t amazing that God can still use him to minister to me even after he’s gone home to be with the Lord? My dad would love to hear that.)

From the plaque I received today as part of raffle (lol God so doesn’t do random or coisedence does he?)

“Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”

I think God is trying to tell me something here. All of this really struck home when Pastor Michelle was telling Arielle and I about a conversation she had with someone, and in the midst of that conversation she told the person that he/she had a “Man Pleasing Spirit” and needed to deal with it. What is a man pleasing spirit but a spirit of fear/intimidation? (exactly what everything up above deals with) And while I know that PM wasn’t saying that to me, it felt like it. It really hit my heart. And I realized that this is what God has been trying to get through to me these past couple of weeks. With God’s help I will conquer this spirit and step into the place God has called me to be. (I know beyond a doubt that I couldn’t conquer this without his help)

God has a plan for my life

Last weekend a visiting Pastor spoke an amazing word from God into my life. I’m not going to make them post it here at this point, maybe sometime in the future. But the main point was that God has a plan for my life. It was an amazing word that I will try to desperately to hang on to in the comming months as life becomes hectic with marriage plans and as we begin our married life, I know at times life will be tough. And this will be promise and a reminder to come back and to trust God during those times.

Oh and something else really cool was that this word tied directly to something Pastor Michele spoke over me a long time ago. The man of God last week had no idea.

God has a plan… Details to follow.