Friday, July 2, 2010

And Sometimes He Answers

One of the things I’ve been asking God is why am I so afraid? Just in general, afraid. I’ve been asking this the past couple of years.

Fear is not something I was used to before. I used to be more decisive and good with follow-through. When I was interested in someone, I made use of every opportunity I was given to get to know them better. “Ambitious” and “independent” and “brave” were words people used to describe me.

I’m not exactly sure what changed. Was it that I became more aware of how sinful I am in nature? I’ve generally been very sensitive to my own sins, so I’m not sure that’s it. Is it that I’m gaining a better understanding of God’s immensity of power, presence and purity? Maybe? I’m not even sure I can name of what it is I’m afraid.

I’ve been dealing with some pressures lately. In my current Bible read-through, I’m in the middle of Job. I was working on a ministry project and felt the need to pray. It wasn’t that I felt I needed to pray [again] over the ministry project I was working on, just that I needed to pray. I meant to ask God simply if there was a reason these things, things that are not ministry-related, are happening just as I’m reading Job and really trying to understand the book’s purpose.

I opened the prayer as I often do by the Lord’s Prayer. Then things just started pouring out. I asked God if he would explain all this to me someday, this period of stuff I’m going through. I’m not expecting an answer today or tomorrow, just some day. And not that God needs to answer me just as God didn’t need to answer Job but after some time God did answer. I shared how I hope that one day He’ll be able to tell me that I did something right, that however many mistakes I made along the way that He could say that at least I was faithful in obeying Him.

It was one of those times that’s just brief but packed with stuff. So I took a breath and I thought God was saying, or was about to say something and I said quietly, “You [God] are in control, you are in control.”

I’ve been trying to do my daily devotional time first thing in the morning [well, after my waking up routine, that is]. Today, I read the devotional right after that time of prayer.

The devotional book I’m using is one of those 365 day-by-day ones; I think it’s quite a good one. One of the criticisms about 365 ones is that the entry of the day doesn’t always pertain to what one’s going through that particular day. I personally tend to believe that it doesn’t matter so much as that spending time with God is a daily discipline. Even if the passage isn’t particularly relevant [someday it might be], the more important thing is that I’m building the discipline of spending time with God.

And then there are the times when God really speaks through the day’s passage. Today was one of those times.
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July 2
Integrity Upheld
As for me, You uphold me in my integrity,
And set me before Your face forever.

Psalm 41:12


Joseph was a righteous man who had cultivated a reputation for godliness in his community. Then word spread across the community that Mary, the woman to whom he was engaged, was expecting a child. There would be many who would assume the worst of this apparently scandalous situation. Joseph probably experienced gossip from some, ostracism from others. Yet he was a man of integrity, aware that God knew the truth of his relationship with Mary.

At times, God will be the only witness to your righteous behavior. Sometimes God is the only one who will understand your motives. Sometimes you will do all you know God has asked you to do, only to face ridicule from others. At such times all you can do is maintain your integrity, trusting that God always keeps His eyes on you. God looks favorably upon those who walk with integrity, doing what they know is right, regardless of how others perceive their actions.

The most important thing is not that people know the truth. The most important thing is that you are a person of integrity before God. When no one seems to understand why you have done something or when others question whether you have done all you should have done, your confidence should not be in the hope of vindication in the eyes of others. It should be in the knowledge that God keeps you in His sight. If you have this confidence, it will be enough to sustain you.

[Blackaby and Blackaby. Experiencing God Day-By-Day Devotional. P. 184]
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So I didn’t think I was going to pray about the ministry stuff but I mostly did.

I don’t usually worry about what other people think. I don’t usually worry about what they might think.

From the beginning of this ministry, I feel like I’ve been trying to get others to understand what I was doing and why, mostly because they expected an explanation from me. One friend had a good sense of what I was trying to do and didn’t ask for explanation, except for times of trying to mediate between me and others. I’m very grateful for her.

I guess I expected at least one other specific person to understand, to at least have my back, but it turns out that person didn’t understand and didn’t have my back. That was painful for me; it is painful for me. I felt like that person was telling me I was completely wrong, like I was going to ruin…something, or that I needed to have the perfect plan for this.

And then others got involved in not understanding and expecting an explanation and full disclosure. I think it was also that the one that didn’t understand, they took that one’s word and interpretation on almost everything I was doing. Didn’t bother to talk to me.

I was frustrated because I wanted others to understand. I still want them to understand. So the thing I’ve been working on the past few weeks has been hindered by the distraction of feeling like “I need them to understand, I need to explain this and this and this and also that. I need to use the exact right words.” I’m feeling a lot of pressure right now.

What was I thinking? I’ve explained some things recently and they didn’t seem to understand that either. I tried doing what people advised, what they wanted me to do, even though some of it has felt wrong to me.

I think I was willing to try to be a people-pleaser [something I’m not known for] because I care so much for these specific people I was trying to please. And this is still scary and still HURTS SO MUCH, but I know what I have to do.

[sigh]

I think, regarding this ministry thing, I’ve been afraid that no one will believe I can do it... and maybe I was starting to believe them more than what God was saying.

I didn’t think I would write so much but here it is.

I am truly sorry that I didn't do things perfectly, yet I'll never be sorry for doing things faithfully.

Thank you for reading.