What’s Hiding Behind Your Curtain of Contentment?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m wincing with pain as I write this post.

 

In 1992, I suffered a severe back injury. Physical therapy aggravates the hot spot. Although the pain has been constant in location and severity, doctors can’t identify the cause so surgery has not been an option. After over ten years of begging for relief and drowning in frustration over quick fix prescriptions for pain meds, I gave up asking doctors for help.

 

I settled into the fact that this pain was always going to be a part of my life.

 

I ask God to bring me relief on the bad days. I plead for comfort and strength to get me through the days when the pain refuses to relent.

 

I’ve learned to cope with the hurting, living with the ache. I’ve learned how to step with caution to avoid flare-ups. I’ve learned to adjust my world so I could still be productive.

 

But today, after over twenty years of trusting God through my suffering, I was brought to tears with a stabbing spasm on my upper back. The pain pinched my neck and pierced the front of my rib cage simultaneously. I cried out to my husband for help and whimpered as he attempted to rub out the hurt.

 

Hours later, after the ache dulled, I realized I never once cried out to God. I felt His presence. I knew He was carrying me through the hurt. But as I lay still on my bed, afraid of tweaking my back into another rampage, I recognized my curtain of contentment.

 

You see, it’s not true contentment if the desire is stuffed deep beneath a broken resolve.

 

Years ago, I stopped asking doctors about my back injury, tired of being given temporary fixes to mask the problem, tired of the disappointment of not having a diagnosis.

 

I stopped praying, tying God’s hands with my unbelief, succumbing to accepting a life of limitations as normal.

 

Scripture says: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. Brothers, pray for us.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-25, NIV)

 

I squelched the Spirit’s fire by smothering my life with unbelief.

 

I’ve always been passionate about my chats with God. So passionate that a woman once mocked me in front of a group and asked, “Do you have to pray about everything?”

 

I wasn’t as bold in my faith back then. My thought-response was, “Absolutely! God tells us to pray continually in His Word!” My actual response was to laugh with them and walk away, wondering if God thought my prayers were silly, too.

 

I praise the Lord that my actual response today would match my thought response back then. Hallelujah!

 

But, as I lay still during my unexpected bed-rest, I’m asking God to reveal what other things I’ve stuffed behind my curtain of contentment.

 

What else have I stopped praying about? What have I wavered in believing God would, or even could, do for me?

 

Restoring a broken relationship? Releasing me from a place of emotional, physical, or spiritual bondage?

 

Have I stopped interceding for a prodigal? Have I quit asking for a breakthrough?

 

Have I waned in believing in God’s provision?

 

Have I settled for survival rather than pressing on in prayerful perseverance?

 

Have I ceased to pray continually because I don’t trust God’s sovereign goodness and faithfulness?

 

In Romans 12:12, the apostle Paul says, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

 

I may not like being stuck in a season of waiting, but my hope is in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Almighty God and Creator of the Universe.

 

I may have to endure pain in its various forms, but God is my strength and my refuge. He comforts me and gives me peace that I can’t even begin to explain.

 

His answer to my prayers may be yes, no, or not yet, but He always answers right on time and according to His perfect plan. And He loves me enough to not always give me my way.

 

Today, I will place all my pain on the altar.

 

I will choose to pray for those things I had given up on. Not the things of this world. You won’t hear any prosperity preaching from this camp. But, I will pray according to God’s Word.

 

Empowered by His sweet Holy Spirit, I will do my part and trust God to do His part without my input or interference. I will pray for God to work miracles and be ready to acknowledge Him and praise Him in all circumstances.

 

Yes, we do have to pray about everything.

 

And the more we get to know our Savior the more we’ll be able to trust Him, even when it hurts.

 

(P.S. I’m going to the doctor next week and am praying for a miracle of God’s healing grace!)

 

What have you shoved behind your curtain of contentment and stopped bringing before God’s throne of grace?

 

—–

 

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He Carves My Heart With Love

(Cancun Reflections)

 

 

 

 

 

My son found a large clump of Limestone on the beach. A plan sparkled in those beautiful brown eyes as his smile broadened. He scoured the shore until he held up his second prize, a small white rock.

 

His souvenirs didn’t look like much to me, but the joy on his face sparked my curiosity.

 

Later that afternoon, I woke up from a two-hour-plus nap and stepped out onto the balcony to find my son hunched in a chair. A pile of sand dust accumulated at his feet as he carved the clump of Limestone he’d found earlier.

 

 

 

He scraped back and forth across the Limestone with varying pressure. Once in a while he’d stop to brush away the fine dust until the edges smoothed into a beautiful heart shape.

 

Xavier held the sculpted treasure in his sand-sprinkled palm, at arm’s length. “Look,” he said. “It’s perfect.”

 

I agreed and thought of how God uses friction in my life to sculpt my clump of a heart to reflect His perfect love.

 

Unlike the Limestone, I often cling to the grains of sin that hide the beauty of Christ in me. Fear. Doubt. Pride. Selfishness. Unforgiveness. Everything that hinders a life of freedom in God’s love will be carved away and brushed into the wind, if only I can trust my faithful Savior.

 

“But it hurts to let go, Lord.”

 

I am with you.

 

“But what if I can’t?”

 

I am your strength.

 

“But?”

 

Do you trust Me?

 

“But?”

 

Do you love Me?

 

“But?”

 

Do you truly believe the extent of My love for you?

 

I had memorized Proverbs 3:5-6 years ago. But as I watched my son smile and place his masterpiece on the table, I understood God’s plea on a deeper level.

 

 

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV).

 

 

 

The Hebrew word for trust used in this verse, b??a?, means “to rely on, to put confidence in, to feel secure.” Yet, so often I’m tempted to cower, listening to voices that shove me away from what God is nudging me toward.

 

So often I hold back a piece of my heart from God in a vain attempt to avoid pain, loss, or failure. Sometimes I even hold back in fear of success. What will I do if God says yes and I can’t do my part?

 

As I prayed and studied deeper, I discovered that b??a? can also mean “to stumble, fall to the ground.” The first image that came to my mind was falling prostrate before God. Although this image portrays worship, it can also mean “going to death.”

 

It’s no surprise that, during the heartaches and struggles the Lord has brought me through, the only times I felt peace was when I chose to die to self.

 

When I follow the Lord in obedience and faith, even when it hurts, even when I’m afraid, even when I don’t understand, He scrapes off my insecurity and brushes it into the wind.

 

But it’s hard to trust when I’m holding back even the smallest piece of my heart from God.

 

He wants my complete devotion and obedience. He wants me to acknowledge Him in every situation, to trust Him with every aspect of my life.

 

I’m not talking about a mention of His name in passing or an over-the-shoulder “Praise God!” The Hebrew word for acknowledge in this verse, y?da‘, means “to know intimately and be known intimately.” This concept is based on experience, not just factual knowledge.

 

This depth of intimacy with Jesus is developed as we practice trusting the sculpting hands of our Savior in every circumstance.

 

Thank You, Lord, for reminding us You delight in Your beloved creations. Reveal the areas in our lives where we’re holding back from You, Lord. Help us trust You recklessly, knowing we’re held secure in the center of Your will. In Jesus’ name, Amen

 

 

 

What are you clinging to that may be hindering you from experiencing freedom through God’s life-transforming love?

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How the Gardener Grows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the sun embraces the barren land,

the Gardener chips the cracking shell.

 

Sifting past chunks of rocky regrets,

He plucks weeds of worry and want,

savoring the aroma of new earth.

 

 

He rakes fingers through crumbling clay,

molding and smoothing, securing His seed

deep into the heart.

 

His vat overflows.

 

Shimmering streams of sun-speckled water,

soften, nourish, restore the soil.

 

Seasons pass.

 

Revitalizing rains coax forth buds.

Clinging vines sprout.

 

Beloved branches weather the winds,

bending steady and sure,

bearing purple marbles,

sweetened by truth and

grown to serve the guests seated at His table.

 

Harvest begins.

 

Time paints splashes of mustard,

amber and crimson dreams.

 

The Gardener weeps,

docking scars of impurities that hinder

new branches from birthing an abundance of fruit.

 

He clips. He cuts. He carves.

 

He sculpts through the calloused concerns

and twisted knots of neglect,

knowing freshly pruned branches

rely on the Root

for healing.

 

He rejoices as they stand firm

through the storms, saturated by His Spring,

breathing life after death

and always reaching for the sun.

—–

2012 Life Psalms Collection by X. E. Dixon

Photo by X. E. Dixon

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