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

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

When You Just Can't Take it Another Second . . .

(fair warning: this is a little ugly . . . and very long-winded . . . but it should have a decent ending)

You who live in heaven,
Hear the prayers of those of us who live on earth . . .

I don't think I've ever felt so dead.

Some might say, "Well, before I met Jesus . . ."

But I can't,

Can't remember any time "BC" in my life,

Can't remember what it felt like then,

Can't remember ever feeling as soul-dead as this,

And I hate it.

I just plain hate it.

It must seem like an oxymoron,

Not feeling anything and hating it,

But it isn't - it's just something that defies explanation.

I feel emotionless and I hate feeling that way.

That's the only way I can describe it.

Last week -

It must've been last Thursday -

I just hated it so much

I was sure I couldn't stand it for one more second.

I sat at the computer,

Thoughts miles and miles away,

Yet as close as my own heart,

And I just thought -

Maybe it would be easier -

Easier if I just ran away,

Just ran away . . . from God.

It must be one of the ugliest thoughts that's ever popped into my head,

Not completely serious,

But more serious than thoughts like this have been before.

You know,

In that moment there,

It just seemed so much simpler.

This following,

This pursuing,

It's such an exhausting fight,

And to be battling with this for months and getting nowhere,

It makes anything else sound appealing,

Especially the idea of doing whatever I want,

Wasting my life in whatever way I please.

For about two-tenths of a second, that option sounded so good . . .

Until I realized it wasn't an option.

Jonah, he tried to run away once,

And God just pulled him right back where He wanted him.

I -

I have tried this, too,

More times than I can count.

I try to mask it with excuses,

Excuses about not having enough time,

Excuses about how other people - Christian people - do it,

Excuses about anything and everything I can think of to keep myself from realizing that instead of finishing the TV series I've been watching before it's not available on Hulu anymore,

Spending hours on end watching TV or reading a book to "relax",

Exercising my imagination,

All along, what I've really been doing is running from Him,

Betraying Him to go and follow other gods, 

Worshiping myself.

And He's spent years teaching me that I can try to run all I want,

But something that ought to be done in moderation ought to be done in moderation,

And He's not fooled by my excuses,

And every time I try to run away, He's just going to bring me right back again.

So, this running away,

It's not an option,

Not because I'm not going to make it an option,

But because He doesn't make it an option,

And praise God He doesn't make it an option,

Because my desperately sick heart sure would.

The next day, my Charles Spurgeon devotional arrived in my email inbox,

And this is what it said:
The Christian should never think or speak lightly of unbelief. For a child of God to mistrust his love, his truth, his faithfulness, must be greatly displeasing to him. How can we ever grieve him by doubting his upholding grace? Christian! it is contrary to every promise of God's precious Word that thou shouldst ever be forgotten or left to perish. If it could be so, how could he be true who has said, "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I never forget thee." What were the value of that promise--"The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee." Where were the truth of Christ's words--"I give unto my sheep eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." Where were the doctrines of grace? They would be all disproved if one child of God should perish. Where were the veracity of God, his honour, his power, his grace, his covenant, his oath, if any of those for whom Christ has died, and who have put their trust in him, should nevertheless be cast away? Banish those unbelieving fears which so dishonour God. Arise, shake thyself from the dust, and put on thy beautiful garments. Remember it is sinful to doubt his Word wherein he has promised thee that thou shalt never perish. Let the eternal life within thee express itself in confident rejoicing.
(Oops.  Definitely shouldn't have thought that.)

But that verse -

Oh, my mind knows it's true,

But then why do I feel so forgotten?!

I can't understand this,

I can't take this,

I can't live like this,

Feeling this dead and alone all the time.

I don't know how to survive without Him.

I just don't.

And if mountains melt into valleys,

Don't valleys rise into mountains,

And where is it?  When is it coming?

Because I'm dying to be out of these shadows and back in the light.

I put The Jesus Record into my CD player,

Listen to the songs,

Most of which I am only vaguely familiar with.

Someone's singing "Hard to Get",

And suddenly I realize that what he's singing about is how I've been feeling lately,

Pull out the booklet to read the lyrics,

And the last verse catches my attention more than the other two:
. . .And after I figured this, somehow
All I really need to know
Is if You who live in eternity
Hear the prayers of those of us who live in time
We can't see what's ahead
And we cannot get free of what we've left behind
I'm reeling from these voices that keep screaming in my ears
All the words of shame and doubt, blame and regret
I can't see how You're leading me unless You've led me here
Where I'm lost enough to let myself be led
And so You've been here all along I guess
It's just Your ways and You are just plain hard to get

And I've been feeling so lost lately.

Driving home from church Sunday night,

Still feeling nothing, despite my prayers to feel something - 

Anything -

I slide in the "car copy" of the CD and seek until I'm on the track I want.

It gets to the third verse,

And I can't even remember what the words are,

All I know is that they mean something to where I am right now,

And does He who lives in eternity hear the prayers of those of us who live in time?

Because, just that day, it'd felt a whole lot more like talking to a brick wall than praying,

And I know the answers to all of these questions,

But everything about where I am right now makes me doubt everything I know,

And I just need to be sure of it all again,

And my voice gets caught in my throat

As tears form in my eyes.


I feel so lost.

I go back to the beginning of the song,

Because I just have to hear it again,

And then it's the second verse that's what I need to hear,

Then the bridge . . .
You who live in radiance
Hear the prayers of those of us who live in skin
We have a love that's not as patient as Yours was
Still we do love now and then
Did You ever know loneliness
Did You ever know need
Do You remember just how long a night can get?
When You were barely holding on
And Your friends fall asleep
And don't see the blood that's running in Your sweat
Will those who mourn be left uncomforted
While You're up there just playing hard to get?
And I know you bore our sorrows
And I know you feel our pain
And I know it would not hurt any less
Even if it could be explained
And I know that I am only lashing out
At the One who loves me most
And after I figured this, somehow
All I really need to know
Is if You who live in eternity
Hear the prayers of those of us who live in time . . .
And this loneliness,

This need is all I've been feeling lately,

And I'm just so sick of feeling this way,

And also so sick of trying to get out,

And are You hearing me?

Are You really seeing me?

You said You wouldn't forget me.

You said . . .

Get home,

Slip the demo disc into the CD player,

Turn over the box to find which track to skip to,

But it's already playing -

The first song on the disc.

Keep reminding me.

Please keep reminding me.

Last night, I came home exhausted,

Gathered my things, took a shower,

Was just about to brush my teeth,

When I really couldn't stand it another minute,

And I collapsed face-down on the floor. 

"How can You call me 'Daughter' now,

Now, when I've spent the whole day thinking about myself rather than You,

Making self my idol yet again,

And, God, I just can't do this.

I can't make myself into what I ought to be.

I'm just not capable of bringing my own heart to life,

Not capable of making it feel again,

Not capable of loving You and meditating on You the way I ought.

I have tried and tried and tried

And I just can't do it."

So I gave up.

No, not gave up as in "gave up and ran away"

Or "gave up and stopped fighting",

Just "realized I'd been trying to be in control

That I can't be in control,

And surrendered that control to the One who has really been in control all along . . .


And I don't know if my dead heart was in it or if it was just words,

If it's really going to make a difference or not,

But it's what I needed.

I couldn't take it another second.

I needed to be able to give up,

Never thought I could. 

But I can.

I'm not sure I know how to stop playing god and start letting Him be God, 

But I do know it's what I need -

All I need.

And I know I should've learned this lesson the last time . . .

Or the time before that.

Why am I so forgetful?

At least I know He's not giving up on teaching it to me.

I logged on today to post about what an ugly mess I am,

How I've never felt so dead before,

And an indicator tells me I have a comment awaiting moderation.

I can't imagine who it could be,

Don't feel ready to deal with a comment,

Having been steeling myself for teary-eyed typing of thoughts I regret,

Trying to make sense of my last week and put it into words,

And she just says everything I need to hear.
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.
 And I am just blown away by the Holy Spirit's work in her,

And this wonderful reminder that He hasn't forgotten,

That He's still doing something,

That it's a fight -

And important one -

And that the feelings come and go,

But He remains constant.

Even when I feel abandoned,

I can trust in His faithfulness,

In His promise to never abandon.

And -

Thinking about Ann's prompt for Walk With Him Wednesday -

Isn't this part of what it means to be a citizen of heaven,

Even here, even now?

To trust Him, no matter what,

To let Him be in control when we can't be, and even when we think we can,

To live as though He's the only thing that matters

Because His kingdom's what we have to live for -

It's the only thing worth living for,

And the only way to truly have anything else.

The "Easter People"?

They're the ones whose hope is never in themselves,

In their own ability,

Because they know that they are powerless,

Powerless to know even one single fact,

But God? -

He rolls away stones to reveal empty tombs -

And how can we ever claim to be in control

When we can't even take our next breath?

The Easter People know this in the marrow of their bones,

Place all their hope only in Him,

And the world looks and that and knows their citizenship.

He sings it honestly,

Doesn't hide his anger or his hurt,

Voices all the questions I'm afraid to ask,

And maybe it's not right to ask them,

But it's not right to pretend to hide, either,

To delude ourselves into thinking we can keep God from seeing where we are.

It's better to admit where we are and let Him help.

He gets to the last two lines,

And I try to wrap my head around the truth I know he's saying:
And so You've been here all along I guess
It's just Your ways and You are just plain hard to get

"All along."

All along.

Reasons 1474-1534,

Counting and discovering why He is the One who ought to be in control:
  1. He is God in His nation (2 Kings 1:3)
  2. He sends fire from heaven (2 Kings 1:10)
  3. He sends fire from heaven to consume fifty-one men (2 Kings 1:10)
  4. He sends an angel to tell His prophet not to be afraid (2 Kings 1:15)
  5. He punishes those who consult other gods (2 Kings 1:16)
  6. Those who turn from Him to consult other gods die according to His word, spoken through His prophets (2 Kings 1:16-17)
  7. He takes the master from the servant (2 Kings 2:3)
  8. He parts the Jordan for His prophets (2 Kings 2:7-8)
  9. He sends a chariot of fire and horses of fire to separate the master from the servant (2 Kings 2:11)
  10. He takes His prophet up to heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11)
  11. He heals water (2 Kings 2:21)
  12. He heals water so that it will no longer cause death (2 Kings 2:21)
  13. He heals water so that it will no longer make the land unproductive (2 Kings 2:21)
  14. The water He heals remains pure (2 Kings 2:21-22)
  15. He sends two bears to maul forty-two boys whom His prophet cursed in His name (2 Kings 2:23)
  16. He fills the valleys with pools of water (2 Kings 3:16)
  17. He needs neither wind nor rain to fill valleys with water (2 Kings 3:17)
  18. It is easy for Him to fill the valleys with pools of water, using neither wind nor rain (2 Kings 3:16-18)
  19. He delivers every fortified city in a nation into the hands of the kings (2 Kings 3:18-19)
  20. He delivers every major town in a nation into the hands of the kings (2 Kings 3:18-19)
  21. He enables the kings and their armies to cut down every good tree in a nation (2 Kings 3:18-19)
  22. He enables the kings and their armies to stop up all the springs in a nation (2 Kings 3:18-19)
  23. He enables the kings and their armies to ruin every good field in a nation with stones (2 Kings 3:18-19)
  24. He causes water to flow from the direction of Edom (2 Kings 3:20)
  25. He fills the land with water (2 Kings 3:20)
  26. He causes the sun to shine so that the water He sent looks red like blood (2 Kings 3:21-22)
  27. He confuses His people's enemies (2 Kings 3:21-23)
  28. He causes oil to flow from a small jar into many jars, filling every one (2 Kings 4:2-6)
  29. He provides for His people in miraculous ways (2 Kings 4:1-7)
  30. He gives a son to the childless woman (2 Kings 4:14-17)
  31. He allows the given child to die (2 Kings 4:18-20)
  32. He chooses to hide some things from His people, even from His prophets (2 Kings 4:27)
  33. He answers prayer and brings the dead to life (2 Kings 4:32-35)
  34. He causes dead bodies to grow warm (2 Kings 4:34)
  35. He makes stew safe to eat (2 Kings 4:39-41)
  36. He uses twenty loaves of bread to feed a hundred (2 Kings 4:42-44)
  37. He feeds many with little, and some is left over (2 Kings 4:42-44)
  38. He can kill and bring back to life (2 Kings 5:7)
  39. He restores flesh (2 Kings 5:14)
  40. He makes flesh clean (2 Kings 5:14)
  41. He makes flesh that was sick to be like that of a young boy (2 Kings 5:14)
  42. There is no God in all the world except Him (2 Kings 5:15)
  43. He gives leprosy (2 Kings 5:27)
  44. He makes iron float (2 Kings 6:6)
  45. He tells His prophets the words that enemy kings speak in their bedrooms (2 Kings 6:12)
  46. He sends horses and chariots of fire to protect His people (2 Kings 6:17)
  47. He opens eyes to see the horses and chariots of fire He has sent (2 Kings 6:17)
  48. He strikes entire armies with blindness (2 Kings 6:17)
  49. He restores sight to those from whom He took it (2 Kings 6:20)
  50. He ends famines (2 Kings 7:1)
  51. He does the impossible (2 Kings 7:2)
  52. He causes enemy armies to hear the sounds of chariots and horses and great armies (2 Kings 7:6)
  53. He causes enemy armies to believe they will be attacked and flee destruction (2 Kings 7:5-7)
  54. He causes enemy armies to drop everything and run away for their lives (2 Kings 7:7)
  55. He does as He had said, and those who doubt live to see His great works but not to enjoy them (2 Kings 7:17-20)
  56. He decrees famines (2 Kings 8:1)
  57. He decrees famines that last seven years (2 Kings 8:2)
  58. He reveals to His prophet who will die (2 Kings 8:10)
  59. He reveals to His prophet what the one standing before Him will do to His people (2 Kings 8:12-13)
  60. He does not destroy for the sake of His servant (2 Kings 8:19)
  61. He keeps His promise to maintain a lamp for David and his descendants forever (2 Kings 8:19)

Bold, italicized words are lyrics to the song "Hard to Get", written by Rich Mullins.  Many thanks to this incredible artist for his honest words. 

Also, many, many thanks to Sylvia for her encouraging comment.

Linking up at A Holy Experience today, discussing citizenship - "how to live here when your home is in heaven".

Also, please look at some of the other beautiful posts found at the bottom of this one.  Maybe bless the author with a comment?  It's a blessing to know that God has used your imperfect words to bless another.

Counting 10,000 Reasons to worship Him:

(Take the challenge with us!)

<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:


CynthiaJSwenson said...

I think Rich may have been thinking of the verse in Isaiah,"His ways are not our ways,& His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways & thoughts are much higher than ours." Keep seeking Him though, He promises we'll find Him! Love your comments on my blog Mary! Love & prayers, in Jesus, Cynthia

Sylvia R said...

Oh, wow! Just wow! And you don't know what a mess I have been all day!
Mercy! What a God of mercy!
As I read down through, I kept thinking, "She's trying too hard. It's hard work in the flesh. Too hard. In fact impossible! She needs to rest in Him, to give it over, just to call on Him and wait for Him..." (That's the fight we need to fight: the big effort to let go, the "make every effort to enter His rest.") And then, that's exactly what you did!
And that was BEFORE the comment came in.
This is definitely God at work, is it not?
How wonderfully beautiful!
And you know what really stuns me? How He uses me at my times of being the worst mess!
Praise our wonderful Lord!

Christina said...

I have had similar thoughts and battles.Have you read John Piper's, When I Don't Desire God? I appreciate your honestly and authenticity. May God give you the desire you need. Blessings to you!

Melody ________________________________ said...

Praying for you, girl. You and me both, I guess. You know I get what you're going through. Maybe not totally, 'cause we're different, but I know some.

I'm still struggling here on my end, mostly with this doubt that clutches my heart so hard. But I was able to drive down stakes of truth like my daddy told me to and now I'm standing on rock and saying to doubt, "No, I don't have to argue through this anymore." Maybe I'm sounding a little confusing, but it's so hard to explain and not take an enormous amount of space in the comment box.

But, thank you for your prayers and I'm praying for you. Your name is officially on a piece of paper now. :)

Would you be interested in exchanging emails? I know you don't want to share personal information online where everyone can see it, but you have to enable your comments before anyone can see them, so I could send you my address that way and then you could just not post that comment. You don't have to if you don't feel comfortable with that, but if you do, I would love to.

Again, praying for you today.

Mary said...

Oh, Cynthia, thank you for that verse. That ought to be on my list of verses to memorize. So many things I know in my mind, yet let my heart forget every day! Still seeking, but now waiting on Him to do most of the work.

It's my pleasure to come visit your blog! Almost like reading a devotional, with a whole lot of real life thrown in. I truly appreciate your posts. Thank you so much for sharing! Love and prayers for you, too, friend.

Mary said...

Oh, Sylvia . . . oh, thank you so, so, so much!

Yes, He is a God of mercy - so much mercy! And it's right there in your comment, too - you seeing all the things I've been too blind to see, putting them into words - and I can just see this work He's been doing through new eyes. Thank you.

Oh, yes. I don't know why I try this over and over and over again (I was sure I'd learned this lesson years ago) - probably my perfectionism, always wanting everything to be just right, doing everything in my power to make it so. But it is, it is impossible! And praise God that it's impossible, because it teaches me to depend on Him. And that rest is something I've been ignoring for . . . well, I don't even know how long. And this - this fight for rest - it's a much better fight than the one I'd been failing at. Yes, such effort, but so worth it!

The comment. Yes, thank you for that. I needed that so much. But that one day . . . less, even . . . just wasn't enough to know if there was a difference. I needed someone to tell me He was working - and you did. Thank you.

Oh, yes, definitely His work - and infinitely beautiful!!!

Yes, so amazing - how He can use us at those times - blows my mind.

Praise Him! Oh, yes, praise Him!!!

Mary said...

Oh, Christina, thank you for visiting - and for telling me I'm not the only one who goes through this. Always so encouraging to know!

No, I haven't read it in its entirety. I started the book weeks ago, but I've been so busy, and since it's on my computer, it's even more difficult for me to find the time to read it. Thank you for reminding me to make that a priority.

Thank you, Christina. I appreciate your honesty and authenticity, as well.

Thank you. Yes, praying and waiting for that.

Blessings to you, too, friend!

Mary said...

Oh, Melody, yes, praying for you. Starting to understand just a little more of what you're experiencing. So glad that, if nothing else, we can walk through this desert together.

I'm glad you're making progress with that doubt. Yes, truth is always such a good weapon! I probably ought to wield it myself more often.

Oh, feel free to take up as much space as you want! I certainly do. :)

Thank you for your prayers. Yes, still praying for you - such a pleasure to do so (and I feel weird saying that while feeling like this, but I can't describe it any other way), especially with us both struggling through similar things. It's good to know I'm not alone, and to be able to do all I can to help you as both of us are in the midst of this.

I would love to exchange emails with you! No, I try not to share too much personal information online - my first and last name are dangerous enough as it is - but I had actually thought a while ago about suggesting exactly what you proposed here. I can't remember now why I didn't. Feel free to send it to me anytime (preferably before next Tuesday).

Yes, praying for you, too, friend.

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