I wonder if you know what it's like to experience the Lord in such an intimate way for a few years and then, for whatever reason, the sense of His guidance, His Presence, leaves you. He stops filling your thoughts, He stops speaking to your heart, you lose your sense of being His child. This has happened to me. I once walked so closely with Jesus...He was life and breath to me. He is still life and breath to me, but I hadn't felt it as acutely as I did in the days He was restoring my mind and my soul. I used to think if I just read my Bible more or memorized more Scripture, or prayed more that I'd regain that wonderful sense of Him watching over me. I didn't. I couldn't grasp Him like I had before, but I told Him I was hanging on. I was going to cling to Jesus. And I would have days when I felt loved by Him.
In the midst of all this confusion, my health problems began--back, knees, neck, and then once they were better, other family problems made themselves known. Then I crumbled...I leaned on God's Word...another crisis--I crumbled again...I felt Him impress upon me that He would make a way...another crisis, I crumbled again...He placed "Consecrate your mind" in my thoughts...a devastating development, and I crumbled again...He lifted me up through the Anointed, Transformed, Redeemed Bible study. I committed myself anew to God, I asked every day to be filled with the Spirit, but nothing changed. At best I felt hopeful. At worst, I felt unloved. I was up one day. I was down the next. But I held on to my faith that God would come. "He will come to us like the rain..." Hosea 6:3.
Last week I remembered my Bible verses and I grabbed them and prayed them to God. And for the first time in a very long time, I actually felt like I was talking to God and that He was listening. And I was able to sleep well that night. In my quiet time the next morning God led me to Romans and I was reminded that it was by grace that I'd been saved. It was a gift of God so that no man could boast. And if God so worked in me as to bring me out of depression and panic, I could trust Him with everyone and everything else. I didn't have to let my concern about others or what His plan was for me evolve into anxiety. I remembered that I wasn't in a Bible study or going to church when He first began to deliver me. I was barely existing--spiritually starved--and yet, because of His grace and mercy, He reached down and drew me out of deep waters. Why? Because, as the psalmist says, He delighted in me. Surely, I could trust Him with my future and the future of my loved ones. It was and still is all about His grace.
So why didn't I remember that earlier? Why did I falter and crumble and worry and torment myself with anxiety? Because I believed the lie that my problems and concerns were not going to be taken care of by God. Because I didn't sense Him, I didn't trust Him. Oh! How I wish I would learn to trust in my God no matter what, no matter where, no matter when! I can do it when life isn't looking so bad, but oh, how tough it is when all I can see around me are problems. And therein lies the key to my troubled relationship with God. He has never left me, but I let my circumstances seem bigger than my God. I let outside influences infiltrate into my secret place--my hiding place in God.
Yesterday I read in My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers for the first time in several months. The entry for November 30 was so appropriate for me and what I've been going through. These words leaped off the page at me, and I'd like to share them with you: "There is only one relationship that really matters and that is your personal relationship to your personal Redeemer and Lord. If you maintain that at all costs, letting everything else go, God will fulfill His purpose through your life."
"At all costs,letting everything else go,"--I believe that means that I must lay all my problems and anxieties at the feet of Jesus truly trusting that even if He doesn't work them out the way I want Him to, His way is perfect and better than I could ever imagine. I need to do this so that I can concentrate on His love for me and my love for Him. So that I can read His Word with a spiritually opened heart and mind, with joy at what He might say to me through It, and I can walk in Him every day listening for His voice, expecting to see Him somehow, someway in my day. So that I can be used by Him to fulfill His purpose through my life. This is what I did in the days when I felt Him so strongly and heard Him so clearly. My mind was too weak to worry--my sanity depended on my concentrating on Jesus and trusting Him to work out everything else.
I find it amazing that God knew all of this would happen. He knew that I'd be hit by one crisis after another and that I'd begin to worry again over things I had no control over. That I'd take my eyes off of Jesus. That I would stew and worry more about my problems than about His love for me and His concern for me. But thanks be to God, I've learned something--not to despair unto death--not to go to that dark place of self-pity to the extent that it sickens the mind. I've learned to turn to Him in prayer and to His Word. I've learned that I may fail, but because He is with me, I will arise. Truly when I am weak, then He is strong. I think that will be my anthem until I die.