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"No matter where I am, your teachings fill me with songs." - Psalm 119:54 (CEV)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Struggles


It wasn't a struggle two months ago,

With that joy in my heart and that smile on my face that made my cheeks sore.

It was a struggle a month ago,

Incredibly busy, not enough time to pursue Him the way I wanted.

It wasn't a struggle a week after that,

Once I'd heard that sermon and started to see Him again.

It was a struggle a couple weeks later,

Buried again, searching for just a moment to breathe.

It wasn't a struggle a day after that,

Because I'd taken that breath.

The next week,

Oh, it was a struggle then,

The week after,

And the week after,

And the week after -

Here.

Now.

Still a struggle.


Three weeks,

Four now,

That I've been in this place?

I don't like this place,

Feeling so distant from Him,

Don't know why it's been happening so much lately.

It's a struggle,

But I will wait,

Because He's working something in this,

Even when I don't know what it is.


I went to church Sunday night,

And instead of a sermon, we worshiped for awhile,

Then the pastor talked just a bit about Hannah,

How she poured out her heart to God,

Then he asked us to split into groups to do just that.

In the silence,

While others in my group were praying,

(And I really should have been listening quite a bit more than I was)

My mind was trying to put words to my struggles,

And I just cried out to Him.

For the second time that day,

Third time this season,

I just cried out to Him

And tears welled up in my eyes.

I waited,

Listened,

And almost didn't because I'm shy,

Because I had absolutely no words in my mind, despite my efforts,

But I opened my mouth,

Laid myself and my struggles bare before these people I know a little,

Don't know very well,

And in short bunches of words,

Sentences broken with gasps for breath,

I thanked Him for how He's changed me and grown me in the last year,

(For I know virtually no other way to begin prayer than with thanks,)

And then I told Him what He already knew,

Cried out to Him from my heart,

Begged for His help,

Because I cannot help myself,

I, who cannot even take a breath unless He gives it in His sovereign will,

And ended again with thanks.

Not thanks for help which He, in His perfect Grace, may or may not give,

But thanks for who He is,

And that He has dealt bountifully with me,

Even in the desert. 

I will praise Him still.


Today, I logged on to post,

Knowing that the hours spent playing chess with my siblings,

Having dinner,

Spending time with family

Had delayed my weekly ramblings,

And that some would be looking,

And that I needed to say something,

Whether I was in the middle of the desert or not.

I logged on to post and found a comment awaiting moderation,

A comment on an almost-forgotten post from a couple of weeks ago.

"Yes" - Yes, He keeps saving.

"[H]ere, too."

And I just went back and skimmed that post,

Then went back again and read,

And before I knew it I was on the floor again,

Praying that my Daddy would save me yet again,

Save me from myself

And everything else that's made me feel so far from Him lately.

Shakily,  I rose just a bit,

Reached for that Bible on my desk,

And eagerly flipped open to one of my favorite passages,

Job 38-42,

And just prayed

And stood in awe of Him who revealed Himself to Job,

At least, as much awe as He saw fit to give my apathetic heart,

Which wasn't much, but it was a great blessing.

And, once again, I was face down,

Begging to see Him, not just hear of him with the hearing of the ear,

Trying to repent -

Comfort myself in -

Dust and ashes,

And just stare at Him,

His grace,

All of who He is,

At least, all I know of who He is,

And praise.

Oh, I hadn't just praised Him like that for awhile.

Thank You.

 
A little more hope now,

Still praying,

Still struggling.

Ran into another old post today,

Took a few of the words a little differently, here in the desert,

And I think, maybe,

That those are raindrops falling.

Are they falling for me?

Please.


Numbers 1243-1336 this week,

Fighting to see Him,

Fighting for joy:
  1. He allows His king to see his successor (1 Kings 1:48)
  2. He repays people for the innocent blood they shed (1 Kings 2:31-32)
  3. He repays people for their wrongdoing (1 Kings 2:44)
  4. He offers the one He has chosen whatever he wants (1 Kings 3:5)
  5. He shows great kindness to His servant (1 Kings 3:6)
  6. He shows great kindness to those who are faithful to Him (1 Kings 3:6)
  7. He shows great kindness to the righteous (1 Kings 3:6)
  8. He shows great kindness to the upright in heart (1 Kings 3:6)
  9. He continues the great kindness He has shown (1 Kings 3:6)
  10. He gives the king He has shown great kindness to a son to sit on his throne (1 Kings 3:6)
  11. He makes His servant king (1 Kings 3:7)
  12. He has chosen a great people (1 Kings 3:8)
  13. He has chosen a people that grew to be too numerous to count or number (1 Kings 3:8)
  14. No one is able to govern His great people perfectly (1 Kings 3:9)
  15. He is pleased by those who ask for a discerning heart (1 Kings 3:9-10)
  16. He is pleased by those who do not ask for long life (1 Kings 3:10-11)
  17. He is pleased by those who do not ask for wealth (1 Kings 3:10-11)
  18. He is pleased by those who do not ask for the death of their enemies (1 Kings 3:10-11)
  19. He is pleased by those who ask for discernment in administering justice (1 Kings 3:10-11)
  20. He does what His servant asks, when His servant's request pleases Him (1 Kings 3:10-12)
  21. He gives wisdom to those who ask (1 Kings 3:12)
  22. He gives a discerning heart to those who ask (1 Kings 3:12)
  23. He gives the one he has chosen such wisdom and discernment that no one has ever be like him, nor will anyone ever be like him (1 Kings 3:12)
  24. He gives those who ask for what pleases Him that which they have not asked for (1 Kings 3:13)
  25. He grants wealth to those whom He chooses (1 Kings 3:13)
  26. He grants honor to those whom He chooses (1 Kings 3:13)
  27. He makes kings so great that they have no equal during their lifetimes (1 Kings 3:13)
  28. He grants long life to those whom He chooses, who walk in obedience to Him and keep His decrees and commands (1 Kings 3:14)
  29. He gives dreams (1 Kings 3:15)
  30. He communicates through dreams (1 Kings 3:15)
  31. He grants wisdom to administer justice (1 Kings 3:28)
  32. He gives wisdom to those whom He chooses (1 Kings 4:29)
  33. He gives very great insight to those whom He chooses (1 Kings 4:19)
  34. He gives a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore to those whom He chooses (1 Kings 4:29)
  35. He grants wisdom greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East to those whom He chooses (1 Kings 4:30)
  36. He grants wisdom greater than all the wisdom of Egypt to those whom He chooses (1 Kings 4:30)
  37. He makes those whom He chooses wiser than anyone else (1 Kings 4:31)
  38. He makes those whom He chooses famous in all the surrounding nations (1 Kings 4:31)
  39. He grants such great wisdom that people from all the nations come to hear it (1 Kings 4:34)
  40. He gives rest on every side to those whom He chooses (1 Kings 5:4)
  41. He withholds adversaries when He chooses (1 Kings 5:5)
  42. He withholds disasters when he chooses (1 Kings 5:5)
  43. He gives the one He had chosen to be king a wise son to rule over His great nation (1 Kings 5:7)
  44. His nation is great (1 Kings 5:7)
  45. He gives wisdom as He had promised (1 Kings 5:12)
  46. He fulfills His promises through people (1 Kings 6:12)
  47. He fulfills His promises when His decrees are followed (1 Kings 6:12)
  48. He fulfills His promises when His laws are observed (1 Kings 6:12)
  49. He fulfills His promises when His commands are kept (1 Kings 6:12)
  50. He lives among His people when they obey Him (1 Kings 6:12-13)
  51. He does not abandon His people when they obey Him (1 Kings 6:12-13)
  52. His cloud fills His temple (1 Kings 8:10)
  53. His cloud is so great that priests cannot perform their services (1 Kings 8:11)
  54. His Glory fills His temple (1 Kings 8:11)
  55. He dwells in a dark cloud (1 Kings 8:12)
  56. With His own hand He fulfills what He promised with His own mouth (1 kings 8:14)
  57. He keeps the promises He makes (1 Kings 8:2)
  58. Things happen just as He promised they would (1 Kings 8:20)
  59. There is no God like Him in heaven above (1 Kings 8:23)
  60. There is no God like him on earth below (1 Kings 8:23)
  61. He keeps His covenant of love with His servants who continue wholeheartedly in His way (1 Kings 8:23)
  62. With His mouth He promises (1 Kings 8:24)
  63. With His hand He fulfills His promises (1 Kings 8:24)
  64. The heavens cannot contain Him (1 Kings 8:27)
  65. Even the highest heaven cannot contain Him (1 Kings 8:27)
  66. His Name is in His temple (1 Kings 8:29)
  67. He singles out His people from all the nations of the world to be His inheritance (1 Kings 8:53)
  68. Not one word of His promises fails (1 Kings 8:56)
  69. He hears the prayers His people make before Him (1 Kings 9:3)
  70. He hears the pleas His people make before Him (1 Kings 9:3)
  71. He consecrates His temple, which His people have built (1 Kings 9:3)
  72. He puts His Name upon His temple forever (1 Kings 9:3)
  73. His eyes will always be in His temple (1 Kings 9:3)
  74. His heart will always be in His temple (1 Kings 9:2)
  75. He establishes the royal throne of those who walk faithfully before Him (1 Kings 9:4-5)
  76. He establishes the royal throne of those who walk before Him with integrity of heart (1 Kings 9:4-5)
  77. He establishes the royal throne of those who walk before Him with uprightness (1 Kings 9:4-5)
  78. He establishes the royal throne of those who do all He commands (1 Kings 9:4-5)
  79. He establishes the royal throne of those who observe His decrees (1 Kings 9:4-5)
  80. He establishes the royal throne of those who observe His laws (1 Kings 9:4-5)
  81. The royal thrones He establishes, He establishes forever (1 Kings 9:4-5)
  82. He cuts off those who turn away from Him (1 Kings 9:6-7)
  83. He cuts off those who do not observe the commands He has given them (1 Kings 9:6-7)
  84. He cuts off those who do not observe the decrees He has given them (1 Kings 9:6-7)
  85. He cuts off those who go off to serve other gods (1 Kings 9:6-7)
  86. He cuts off those who worship other gods (1 Kings 9:6-7)
  87. Those whom He cuts off, He cuts off from the land He has given them (1 Kings 9:6-7)
  88. When His people turn from Him, He rejects the temple He consecrated for His name (1 Kings 9:6-7)
  89. He allows those who turn from Him to become an object of ridicule among all peoples (1 Kings 9:6-7)
  90. He allows His temple to become a heap of rubble when His people turn from Him (1 Kings 9:6-8)
  91. He does appalling things to those who forsake Him (1 Kings 9:8-9)
  92. He brings disaster on those who embrace other gods (1 Kings 9:9)
  93. He brings disaster on those who worship other gods (1 Kings 9:9)
  94. He brings disaster on those who serve other gods (1 Kings 9:9)


Counting 10,000 Reasons to worship Him:



<a href="http://maryschieferstein.blogspot.com/search/label/10000%20Reasons" target="_blank"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8zkGH23srZ8/T2i3Bun0O9I/AAAAAAAABSw/8giPvnJmCPI/s320/10000ReasonsButton.jpg" /></a>
Counting in community:



17 comments:

Christina said...

My pastor once told me to cling to the fact that the Holy Spurit was always working, even when we don't feel it. And He is at work in you right now, refining and transforming you. We often have to be completely emptied before He can fill us. Blessings to you!

Melody ________________________________ said...

"Don't know why it's been happening so much lately." Partly because there's a girl in North Carolina who's struggling too and God uses your words to show His love to her.

Thank you so much for your transparency. You have no idea how much it means. Really, it does mean more than you know. I myself have been so up and down for the last few months that I sometimes don't feel that my heart will ever straighten out. My head hurts with the wandering emotions of my heart.

And now the devil, on top of everything else, is trying to raise doubts in my mind as to whether the God I worship is the right One or whether I've been blind all this time. I hate these doubts and I try to fight with reason and the Word, but they still nag. Last night, I laid on my bed and sobbed, just telling Him that I trusted Him, begging Him to give me the ability to believe in Him. I don't want some other "god" to be my God. I want my Father. Struggling so hard to hold on to this Truth that He really is.

I have no clue why I'm typing all this out into a comment box on the Internet, but I felt that you were one of the most trustworthy people that I could share this with. Doesn't that in itself kind of show the truth of God? I've never seen you face to face, but I've read your words. I know you because of your words and I trust you. I know my Father because of His Word and I can trust Him.

I would ask that you would pray for me. Some time there in your day today, would you just say a word for me and bring me before the Father? Thanks for being my friend.

CynthiaJSwenson said...

Mary, Your 10,000 reasons to praise God is an awesome idea. I love the Bible links.Your honest testimony is so refreshing to me. I could spend hours studying here as your blog is so rich with God's Word. Keep pressing on! Love & prayers, in Jesus, Cynthia

Mary said...

Oh, Christina, thank you for stopping by! Yes, clinging to the fact that He's always working, even when we don't feel it. I think I'm starting to, though - just a little. He's definitely showing me more and more just how desperately I need Him, coaxing me away from everyday busyness to just be alone with Him in prayer and reading His Word. It's good. Hard, with all this apathy, but good. Very good.

Mmm, completely emptied before He can fill us. Such truth in that. I don't know that I'm there yet, but there have been a lot of times lately that I've felt very close.

Thank you so much for your words, your encouragement. Blessings to you, too, friend.

Mary said...

Oh, Melody. I don't even know what to say. Thank you. Thank you more than you can ever know. I say sometimes that it's a blessing to know you've blessed. It's really a blessing to know that you've blessed when you're not feeling particularly blessed (spiritually) yourself. Oh, it's all Him. All Him.

Praying these are God's words and not mine . . .

All that transparency - it's more out of necessity than anything else. I write best from where I am, and I guess I usually figure that someone else just might be there, too. I do the same thing with my music. I'm glad that, somehow, God used my ramblings to touch you. And thank you so much for your transparency. I don't want to say that I know exactly what you're going through. In fact, I'm sure I don't. All I can say is that I've been having some very similar thoughts over the last month and a half. That heart going up and down, those wandering emotions, those doubts, that begging. To some degree, I've been all of those places recently - in the last week even! And, yes, it's awful and frustrating - mentally, if the heart's not quite feeling it. I'm afraid I can't give much advice right now, being in the same place myself. Just keep doing what you're doing - hold on. Keep praying, keep crying out to Him for as long as it takes, keep reading your Bible, keep memorizing Scripture (which is a very good thing to fight with, by the way). Chase Him down until you find Him, and I believe you will. You will find Him, even if it takes awhile.

God has blessed me recently by giving me some wonderful resources that deal specifically with this issue. I'm afraid they don't offer much practical advice, but they're very encouraging. The first is a blog post I ran into (http://everydayawe.com/2012/05/24/how-long-will-you-hide-your-face-lord/), the second is an article at Christianity Today's Leadership Journal (http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2011/fall/historydarkness.html). Another resource I would recommend (which includes more practical advice) is John Piper's book "When I Don't Desire God". I can't say I've finished reading it yet, but it's been good so far, and is available for free in .pdf form at http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/books/when-i-dont-desire-god.

Thank you, Melody, for your trust. I'm sure I'm not as trustworthy as I ought to be, but I do try, by His grace. Yes. Yes, it does show the truth of Him - how people can be miles and miles apart and feel as close as next-door neighbors. I think that says a lot about who He is, in and of itself. And these words - they show who we are, just as His words show who He is. Just as we can know each other, we can know Him - more so, as He is with us always, present everywhere. No one can know us as He can, the Omniscient God.

Oh, Melody, I haven't stopped praying for you. I can't say I always know what to pray for, but I always pray for you. And now I will pray for this, these struggles you're going through. He's listening. I know He is.

Thank you, Melody. Thank you for being my friend. Such a blessing. Such grace.

Mary said...

Cynthia! Thank you for stopping by!

Oh, the idea's all His, and He has blessed me so much with it. It's such a wonder to see Him as He is, as the Bible says He is. You're more than welcome to join in! The official challenge is here (http://maryschieferstein.blogspot.com/2012/03/10000-reasons-challenge.html), and if you post reasons on your blog you can join in the link-up. No pressure, of course. Just wanted you to know it's open to anyone! (The Bible links are through RefTagger - very helpful tool I ran into at Desiring God. Saves me a lot of time, not having to add a hundred links a week by hand.)

I'm glad you appreciate my honesty. I try, though it isn't really hard for me - it's just kind of how I write. Sometimes I worry what people will think. Not usually, though, and I post what I've written regardless.

I'm glad you find my blog so rich in His Word. I think that's one of the greatest compliments I've ever gotten! It's all Him, though. All His work in me, teaching me just how important that really is. I'm sure there's still a lot of room for improvement, though. I'm definitely nowhere near perfect.

Thank you so much - again - for stopping by! God bless you!

Bernadette said...

Mary....Oh, who are you girl, and what are you doing writing the thoughts of my heart? Know this...you are not alone. In sharing the dusty road with fellow travelers, our burdens are much lightened. That's how I feel after reading this post, and I'm so grateful for your words over there on mine. One step in front of the other. Breathe in. Breathe out. Take His hand and just walk on. He'll take care of your heart, I promise. :)
Sending a hug?
You look good in desert clothes...thanks that I'm not alone. So encouraging.
Bernadette

Hanna said...

Mary I just love reading your blog. I love how honest and real you are. Thank you for sharing all of this. It is such a blessing. I would be lying if I said that I never experience any of these thoughts/feelings and praise the Lord that recently He has been so close. He never leaves us. The same God who was with us when we feel Him is there when we don't feel Him. He is always there. His Spirit dwells within us. Just keep pressing on. Our God is faithful. It's also so good so see that even though you go through struggles you can still see that God is so good and worthy to be praised. How encouraging. Keep pressing on sister. And imma keep reading your blog haha.

"Wait for the LORD. Be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD."
Psalm 27:14

Mary said...

Oh, thank you, Bernadette. It's good to know I'm not alone, and that, somehow, God uses these words to bless others.

Oh, yes, so much lighter in sharing! I'm so glad you feel that way, too.

I'm grateful for your words, Bernadette - both here and on your blog. Your poetry is so beautiful and so true and it always makes me think. I truly enjoy reading it.

Yes. Yes. One step of a time. Oh, He'll take care of you, too, friend. Yes, hugs for you, too, prayers for all of us here.

You look good, too, friend. Thank you that I'm not alone. Thank you.

Mary said...

Hi, Hanna! So good to "see" you again!

Oh, thank you. I try to be honest and transparent, though it isn't usually difficult for me to do so. It's just how I write. Thank you so much for your encouragement!

Oh, yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! He is. He is!

Pressing on . . . yes. Not letting go. Not letting go.

Thank you! I'll try to visit yours more often now. I didn't realize you'd been posting!

Waiting. Yes, waiting.

Melody ________________________________ said...

Thank you for your words. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for being such a good friend.

I read the articles you linked to. Such comfort! I hope I can get the John Piper book in print form soon. If I can't, I'll probably read it on the computer. Thank you. I know I've said that a lot, but I mean it.

Mary said...

Oh, you're very, very welcome, Melody. I'm not perfect, but I'm so glad to try.

Yes, they are such comfort, aren't they? Good to know we're not the only ones struggling. I especially like the one that calls this time an "important spiritual discipline" - a much better way to look at it than the way I had been.

I'd been meaning to look up some resources on doubt for you, since, though I don't understand what precisely you're going through, I do know a bit about doubt. I know that, when I experience it, I never like it (at all), but I also know that doubt is an important part of faith, so I was looking for something that would address both sides of the issue. I found an article by John Piper at http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/john-the-baptists-doubt which I found encouraging, and there was a pretty good one at the Resurgence (http://theresurgence.com/2012/04/17/dealing-with-doubt). Hopefully those will be at least a little helpful.

Still praying for you, friend. You are in my thoughts often. I hope that this season won't last too much longer, pray that God will help you out of it, or, at least, continue to help you in the midst of it. God bless you and be with you, dear friend, especially now. Especially now.

Melody ________________________________ said...

Thank you. I will try to look at these tomorrow. Thank you for praying for me. I feel ashamed for how little I have remembered to pray for you. Praying for you now. I think I need to pull out the notebook tomorrow and figure out how to use it. I want to better lift you before the throne of grace.

Melody ________________________________ said...

These links were more than a little helpful. I've read them through once but I'm sure I'll be going back to them again. God led you to what I needed. Both articles had elements of what I'm going through. Thank you so much for taking the time to find those for me.

Mary said...

Oh, you're so very welcome, Melody! It's my pleasure to do whatever I can to encourage you and pray for you. And you don't need to be ashamed. We're all equally forgetful. There have been so many times in my life that I have forgotten to pray for people as I ought (hence the notebook).

Oh, I'm so glad they were helpful! They seemed really good (I especially liked the John Piper one)! I'm so glad God led me to what you needed - it couldn't have been me at all, because He's the only one who truly knows what you need right now. And, oh, it was my pleasure to find them for you! It didn't take too long (thanks to search boxes), and they encouraged me as well!

Still praying for you, friend. Let me know if there's anything else I can do to help.

Sylvia R said...

The Holy Spirit's working, or you wouldn't be struggling with the intensity you have! The Holy Spirit's working, or you simply wouldn't care. There'd be no up and down, just nothing. This is the name of the game... well, it's not a game, but you know what I mean. It is a fight, and one well worth fighting. Our feelings don't tell everything.

Your faithfulness in posting your "Reasons" is rebuking me! Doing this whether you feel any particular thing is keeping true and steady. I'm shifting my blog to lower priority because of busyness and not wanting to rob my time with God, but I do want to post more of my REasons, more often. I'm up to 888 in my journal, way behind that on my blog. So, you're setting such an example for me to follow!

So happy to see you growing and blessing others on the path of growth, too.

Hallelujah! God is so good!

Mary said...

Oh, Sylvia, thank you so, so much! You have absolutely no idea how much I needed to hear this today, especially with what I got on here to post. God must've told you exactly what to say, whether you knew it or not, because I've been struggling so, so much lately. (I may quote this in the post I'm about to write, if you don't mind. I think you just gave me the ending I was looking for.)

You are right, it's a fight, and it's so worth fighting, but it just gets so hard sometimes. And, no, our feelings don't tell everything, but that doesn't mean they aren't important. I don't think it's possible to truly be a Christian and never feel anything, but there is definitely truth in what you said, as we shouldn't expect to feel something all the time. Thank you so much for that reminder.

Oh, I haven't been doing so well lately, either. I've been ignoring some of my normal disciplines because I've been so busy working on my CD. I need to work on my priorities.

I would love to see more of your reasons! It's so encouraging to read them from books I haven't gotten to yet! (Of course, don't feel like you're required to post them, just post them when you want to.) It's a little easier for me to post them on my blog as, unlike my gifts list, I keep my Reasons in a computer file. Then I just change the numbering, copy, and paste. It works a little easier for me. I would have a hard time getting them all on there if I had to write them on paper then type them out into my computer all the time.

Thank you, Sylvia. I'm glad you can see something in me I can't. It's so encouraging. And thank you for your friendship. It truly means a lot to me.

Oh, yes, He is! So good. So, so good.

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