Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Surround Yourself

In case you couldn't tell from my... deep... posts lately, life is not rosy right now. Well, circumstances are not rosy, but my outlook is surprisingly okay most of the time.

With God's grace this pessimist has been given new eyes: the only thing that matters is God's glory. Sometimes he lets me screw up in my life to glorify His. To remind me of my complete and utter dependance. To teach me that if anything is true, it's that people will always, always let me down.  But God won't!

Right now I'm in a place where God has taken away everything that comforted me: relationships, church (okay, that's due to a bad choice on my part but weekend premium ends in June and then my bank account will shrink but my spirit will grow), prestige, performance, plans. He has knocked down every single idol I had and lovingly forced me to look upon Him for the first time in a long time. Possibly for the first time ever, short of a tiny glimpse last summer.

For a few weeks this spring, I felt like a rat in a maze. I didn't know where I was going (still don't), didn't know how to get there, and didn't know how to find out how to get there. I'd turn one way and God would graciously but firmly slam the door in my face. Turn another way... slam. Let's try this way... nope. Right now, I'm hedged in. And there's nowhere to turn and nothing to do but turn to Him. God's grabbing my be the shoulders and saying, look at me! Psalm 139 agrees:

 5 You hem me in behind and before,
   and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
   too lofty for me to attain.

It's beautiful in its simplicity, really. Stunning. And I'm still wrestling with it. My heart wants to harden. To be stubborn. Sometimes I think that if I can't go in the direction I think I want to go, I'll just plop down like a toddler throwing a tantrum, and I'll sit in this sh*t because I'm so silly and I still feel like I still need to show myself that I'm in control. And God shakes His head and laughs at me. How could I possibly know what's best for me?! If I'm walking in His will, my life will glorify God. What could be more fulfilling than that?

All that to say, I'm struggling. I would love to come out on the other side of this a new person. I'm so tired of my life, and God is willing to offer me the bread of life and living water! He makes everything new. Not just better, but brand new! He makes beautiful things out of the dust. If I may be so bold as to say this, I think I have a taste of what it felt like for Jacob to wrestle with the spirit on the shores of the river (Genesis 32:24-30). When he won, he was a new man and he earned a new name and a new hope of the promised land. I want to come to the other side of this storm and be able to say, wow, I gave it all I had, and God gave the rest.

I digress. My thoughts are going in 1,000 different directions, but my point is this: the Bible is not a great book filled with inspirational quotes. Its motivation goes far below the surface if you let it in. Mark Driscoll says, "Until information is practiced as faith, you lack transformation. God's truth hasn't changed you." I see that's where I am now. I started to let God in last summer, but ambition and busyness and external contentment won out. I didn't feel like I needed God. So He orchestrated things in such a way that life brought me to my knees. And, while I'm there, He's put it on my heart to pray about it. The beautiful thing is, God is most glorified in us when we are most dependent on Him. When I feel my heart hardening because I think I can't bear the pain, I have to let God bear it for me, because He's willing: He says, "your burden is heavy and my yoke is light. Let me trade you."

Psalm 40:1-3 gives me hope:

1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
   he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
   out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
   and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
   a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the LORD
   and put their trust in him.


The Word of God is a living and breathing thing. There's a life force in those pages. And I'm completely guilty of ignoring that promise, or even scoffing at the fact that it exists: People who quote the Bible left and right and only do things 'through Christ who strengthens them' are weak. Sound familiar? It's what Satan wants us to believe, that's for sure.

I have a friend who has lost 60 pounds this spring through hard work and dedication. She posted a picture on Facebook and someone commented, "How'd you do it? Don't say healthy food and exercise!" But of course, that was the answer. It hit me that in the same way, I've been looking for an easy way to live the hard Christian life. It doesn't make sense. The answer is right in front of me, but it's not a painless path!

I've been asking my pastor, my friends, my counselor: What do I do? I hear God asking for my heart, I see Him moving in my life, but I don't know how to answer. I don't know what he wants me to do. I don't know how to live in His will day in and day out. I still don't, but I do know this: it starts with the Bible. And it starts in conversation with God.

I have been desperately wanting a Christian mentor to tell me what to do and let me lean on them, but God has provided three false leads that have ended in disappointment. He says, lean on me instead. I can't go to church on Sundays right now, and in a way I think it's been good that God has taken away this 'easy' form of worship. No great band is going to sing for me and no tidy little sermon is handed to me. He's saying, a true relationship goes both ways. It takes work to maintain and I have big plans for you if you will turn to me. I have given up on flowery prayers, and sometimes hourly I just say to God, I can't deal with this right now. I can't make this decision. I can't handle this emotion. And I have to hand it to Him. I have no doubt He'll hand it back when I'm a little more prepared and the Way is a little more clear to me.

I bought some printed Bible verses from this Etsy shop last month and I'm so thankful that I did. I need to be surrounded by God's word and almost every wall in my apartment has something beautiful on it now. Everywhere I turn, I see His promises! This blog was created as an ongoing scrapbook of my life for better or for worse. For that reason, I've never sought out sponsors or done a giveaway, but these Bible verses on my wall make me so, so happy. I'd like to buy a print for one of you as a voice of encouragement and truth!

To enter this drawing, simply leave a comment sharing your favorite Bible verse. For a second entry, tell us why it's your favorite! Also, some of you have told me it's hard to post comments on Blogger. If you have trouble, just e-mail your favorite verse to me at theresemarie414 (at) gmail (dot) com to enter the drawing. I'll pick a winner at 9pm next Monday, April 30.

My favorite verse? I feel like I'm underlining every single thing I read when I open my Bible, but Psalm 5 has been especially wonderful right now.


  1. Therese....I've always enjoyed reading your posts, even though I'm sorry you are struggling. I pray for peace in your daily life.

  2. Joshua 1:9
    New International Version (NIV)

    9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

    Hands down my favorite verse that has gotten me through some rough spots.

    1. That's one of those verses that says something new every time you read it. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Therese, One of my favorite quotes right now is this, "We can do hard things." It's true, you know? Below is my favorite bible verse...I'll tell you my reason in the next post.

    Isaiah 41:10
    New International Version (NIV)

    10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
    I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

    1. The book of Isaiah is so wonderful. And "we can do hard things" reminds me of this craft on my to-do list: http://thenatos.blogspot.com/2011/07/turtle-has-moved.html

  4. And the reason...
    This verse was posted on my father's hospital room ceiling after he had a horrific motor vehicle accident. He was left quadriplegic and ventilator-dependent. My uncle had found great comfort with this verse while their father suffered through cancer treatments...and my father found great comfort from it during his hospitalization. Unfortunately, he would not survive his injuries, and on the night before he passed, he spelled out the following message with eye blinks, "It all makes sense," as he gazed at the verse. I have found significant comfort in this peace...

    1. Oh, Cara, I had no idea. Thank you so much for sharing1 The story gives me chills and I'm so thankful he was able to communicate that and God gave you both peace through it.

  5. @The Hartfields beat me to it. Joshua 1:9 is my go-to verse for strength and comfort. Love this post, Therese. I think I could read it again and again and take in something new each time. You are so inspiring!

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Cassie, and thanks for reading!

  6. Sound like your are following the advise of our first Pope Peter:
    Be attentive to the Word, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your heart(s). 2 Peter 1:19.
    Thank God morning follows every night.

  7. Love reading your blog posts...you are a gifted writer. :)

    Favorite verse: Philippians 3:13-14 "13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

    Through the presence of Christ, we can forget the past, and strain toward that future which He gives to us all. From such redeeming grace, we find that peace which comes in forgetting. To look back at past successes or failures, or to look around to see what others are doing or saying, is to invite defeat. That peace enables us to forget, to begin anew. Paul says that his goal is to know Christ, to be like Christ, and to be all Christ has in mind for him. This goal absorbs all Paul's energy. This is a helpful example for us. We should not let anything take our eyes off our goal--knowing Christ.

    1. I love that, Katie! Thank you so much for sharing, especially because what you shared is particularly applicable to me right now :o)

  8. I love your transparency Therese. My favorite verse is Proverbs 4:23, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." I used to think this scripture allowed me to be hardened toward people and things that hurt me. It's actually what drew me to the verse. But as I clung to it, God revealed to me the exact opposite. Not only is it not an excuse for holding on to bitterness or hate, it's actually a command to rid my heart of those things, so that I may experience the fullness of life. John Eldredge's book Waking the Dead: The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive is based on this scripture. It was life changing for me during a really hard time in my life. Hugs to you girl!

    1. I love that, Rachel. What a wonderful evolution of understanding regarding Proverbs 4. And I'll have to check out that John Eldredge book. Thanks!

  9. Great post Therese. I've struggled with looking for the "right" church/mentor, too, and am encouraged to hear your thoughts.
    Here's my favorite verse:
    "Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:11-12
    (I go back and forth between that and the verse in Matthew 6 about not worrying since I worry and forget to let God be in control. I like this one because it's encouraging and reminds me of the importance of patience, hope and constant prayer)

  10. Wow! Love your boldness in writing. I know I'm too late for the give away...lol...but I wanted to say, what you're loving right now, submitting to Christ, is the way you live. There are no steps. Just this. :)

    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting :o) I tend to make things much harder than they need to be, and this journey with God is no exception.