Monday, May 25, 2015

My God is Limitless - How Big Is Your God? (Part 3)

In the second part of this three part post, I talked about how the wounds and scars from our past can prevent us from really seeing God. This time, I want to share a bit of my own story with emotional scars.
As I said in the last post, everyone has their scars, the lies they believe that prevent them from seeing the Truth. Because I am human, I have them too. One in particular plagued me for a long time. I believed that I wasn't important, that I didn't have anything to offer the world. This lie was more harmful than it seemed, like a poison that slowly eats away at self-esteem and plants not only seeds of self-doubt, but seeds of God doubt. It caused me to reach the point that I described in Doubting Your Doubts, where I couldn't even believe God intellectually any more, I just said and did things to keep up the show for people who I thought would reject me if they knew I didn't really believe what I said.
Thankfully, God is patient and persistent. He pursued me when I didn't even know he was. Then he grabbed my attention and spoke straight to my heart (for more of that story, check out my first post ever here). It was then I was able to start seeing the intellect in it all. But this lie, along with many others I believed then, and some I still believe today, created those deep scars I spoke of. Scars I didn't even know existed. Scars that I'm still discovering today.

I briefly mentioned in the last post that if you want to truly heal, you must identify the scars and the lies attached to them and bring them to God. But how do you do that?
The first thing to do is find the scars. How I've gone about doing that is just by paying attention to who I am and how I am. How do I react to things? What's something I don't like about myself, or something I'd like to fix? When you find a scar, ask yourself, "Why do I think this way?"
For example, I'm insecure. Sure everyone is insecure in someway, but I am specifically insecure about my creations. I have a very hard time expressing myself and my understanding of things, so I like to do it in the most creative way possible. I turn my frustrations into art. I draw, paint, write, sing, spin stories, etc. Some of these things I'm better at than others. But all of them are a deep expression of my thoughts and emotions that I am too scatter brained to articulate to another human being in the form of verbal communication.
It's my artist brain, and I love it, but for a long time I did not love it.
In fact, I hated it! I hated not being able to express myself. I hated the blank stares or confused misunderstandings I got from others when I tried. I hated feeling constantly judged and worthless.
So, I created nonstop. I created worlds, characters, stories, ideas, pictures. I even created masks to hide behind. And I was so, so insecure about my creations because they felt like part of me. Because, they really kind of were. They were the only way I knew how to express myself, but even then, I was scared to show my creations to others because I was scared they would say something less than positive about it and not realize that this wasn't just some little thing I made for fun, but this thing was me.

Those insecurities are the manifestations of a scar of a wound I received when I was young. A wound fed by the lie that I wasn't good enough, I wasn't lovable, I wasn't wanted.
But realizing that lie took time. First I had to identify the scar. I had to look at my insecurities and say, "I don't like you. You are not me, you are my chains. You don't define me, you just keep me tangled in fear." Then I had to search. I had to pay attention every time I felt insecure and ask myself, "What am I afraid of?" Through several months of asking that question, I discovered the lie I had come to believe.
The process isn't a fast one. It took me months to identify my scar, and more after that to identify my fear and the lie that fear was rooted in. But that was almost two years ago. It wasn't until this spring did I start to dispel the lie by finding out I was not alone. By meeting many other creatives who thought the same way I did and had the same doubts that God was using to do glorious and magnificent things! And not just things in other's lives, but some had even had impacts on my life before I ever met them.
But I almost didn't meet these people. My fear almost told me not to go to the Re:Write conference. "What if you don't get anything out of it? What if it's a waste of time and money? What if something bad happens on your long drive down there?" And many more what ifs that scared me. But I knew one thing.
I have a dream. A dream that I'm more scared to lose the opportunity to reach than I am scared or other's opinions of me or falling into crippling debt or even dying in a freak car accident. So, while all of the "what ifs" my fear whispered to me were very valid "ifs," I had one, single quiet "if" whispering to me, "But what if you can reach your dream?"
And that single, small, truthful whisper got me shaking with such anticipation that I no longer cared about the big, scary "ifs" my fear screamed to me.

I realize now that I am the way I am for a reason, although sometimes I forget that. It's still something I only understand in my mind, but don't quite know in my heart. Because of this, I try to do things on my own. Don't get me wrong, it's good to work towards your dream, but when you forget that your ultimate purpose is to bring glory to God's kingdom, you can shoot for the stars all you want and have a real hard time getting off the ground.
God has been challenging me with the question I shared in part 1: "Is there a limit to my power?"
I already know that God is bigger than my biggest fear. But I have a hard time learning that He is also bigger than my biggest dream.
So recently I have been circling this dream in prayer on many different levels. I'm circling that I'll be able to get the book I've already written out there where it can impact people in the unique way that only story can. I'm circling that He would guide me on my next novel, which is centered around escaping the lies of the devil to see God's Truth. And I've recently added a new prayer to the list of things I'm circling.
The book I'm working on now is set in the desert, yet I have never been to the desert. I, however, have a standing offer to get a chance to see the desert this summer with my Grandparents in New Mexico. All I must do is raise the money for plane tickets down there. The day I decided this was something I needed to do, I began circling New Mexico in prayer.With 10% of all I make going towards travel I knew I would only be able to make it there with God's provision.
In the three days since, I have made almost twice at much money as I usually do on these days.
Such an immediate answer to prayer is something I'm not used to. I was excited, stunned, grateful. But most of all, I was overwhelmed. After just a few hours, He had already provided, and it instantly brought to mind a song by Big Daddy Weave

So, how big is my God?
He is bigger than my biggest doubts, darkest fears, and most unattainable dreams.
Is there a limit to His power?
Never! He is limitless, and in Him we, too, can be limitless.

He is eternal. He is infinite. He will provide.
Do you trust Him?
I'm learning to.

Monday, May 18, 2015

God vs Scars - How Big Is Your God? (Part 2)

Last week I addressed the common phenomenon of doubts and how they can destroy our prayer lives if left unattended to. Many of us have these problems, or have had these problems. Other times, the situation is very different. We can honestly say our God is infinite and his power has no limit, yet something still feels void. We can't seem to pray for very long, because we honestly don't know what it's like to pray with the absolute certain belief that God is bigger than our problems and wants us to prosper, or we don't read our bibles very much, because we don't usually get anything out of it. If you've never experienced this, it will sound like I've just contradicted myself. I mean, I basically just said that sometimes we believe, but don't believe. How does that make sense?
Well, if you're like me, this makes perfect sense. You see, there's two different forms of belief. There's the belief where you accept in your head that something is true based on firm logic and understanding and sometimes even a strong explanation from a trusted source. Then there's core belief. Minds can be changed, opinions can be swayed, but when you know something to be truth with the very core of your being, nothing can change that.
So many of us, though, know something to be true in our heads, but haven't quite fully grasped it in our hearts and spirits. Why is that?
I think it comes down to scars.

Everyone has scars, both emotional and physical. Scars have this funny habit of fading, which is fine and dandy when they're physical (unless, like me, you think scars are kind of cool). I have a scar on my left knee that I got when I was twelve. I crashed my scooter and landed on my face, having to get stitches in my chin (that scar is gone now). I left with a scar on my knee, a little bigger than a nickle. It was pink and weird looking, and when the weather got cold, it turned purple. Now, eight years later, its faded to about the size of a penny and is no longer pink, but a shade just paler than my fair skin. If I didn't point out the slight discoloration, you wouldn't even notice it. It looks like just a part of my skin.
Like physical scars, emotional scars can fade as well, changing to look like who we are, when they were never meant to be there. They can be caused by anything. A falsehood you came to believe about yourself as a child, a poor relationship with a family member or friend, a bad breakup, or any other form of heartbreak. These wounds, like any wound, will scar if they don't heal properly. Like any scar, emotional scars may fade to look like you, but they don't work like you, at least, not how you worked before you were hurt.
Physical scar tissue doesn't stretch and react the way normal skin or muscle tissue is designed to react. I sprained my right knee a few summers ago and didn't let it heal properly. Though I can't see inside my knee, I'm certain all the walking I did on it caused its healing to go too slow and scar tissue to form in my body's attempt to repair itself. Most of the time my knee feels fine, I walk without pain. But once in a while, it hurts, usually when a storm is coming in or seasons are changing or there's any other reason for the atmospheric pressure to change and affect my joints. Nothing else has a problem during those times, just me knee, because my knee doesn't have all it's original tissue, tissue that's designed to expand and flex with the pressure changes. Because scar tissue doesn't stretch, my knee hurts. But until my environment changes to affect my scar, I don't even know it's there, it's become such a part of me.

Emotional scars do the same thing. They block the connection between mind and spirit, but usually we don't notice this block. It's not until we hear or experience something that resonates with us in such a way that we feel the block. We notice that we don't feel the connection while our head is accepting the logic. We understand and agree with what the preacher/teacher/author/artist is saying, but we still have trouble really seeing God in this new understanding, because the scar acts as a dam that blocks the river's flow, a wall that blocks our line of sight, a chain that holds us back.

But what if I told you God sees all your scars and all your deepest wounds and loves you despite the fact that they prevent you from loving Him to your full extent? There is healing for every wound and every scar, no mater how old, deep, or painful. All you must do is identify those scars and the lie that caused them, and lay it at his feet.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Doubting Your Doubts - How Big Is Your God? (Part 1)

How big is your God?

This is a question that's very important to answer, a question that I don't think we can always answer. Mark Batterson reworded the question as one from God to man, "Is there a limit to my power?"
We can easily say God is infinite or that there's no limit to his power, but do we always mean it?
I think lots of times, even as believers, we say things like this just because we know it's the right answer and we can't put to words what our answer really is. What our doubts really are. Or, we know our doubts but we are scared of the implications. Will others judge me? Will I be misunderstood? Will God answer my prayer if I answer this question wrong?
So, we opt to avoid the real implications of the question by giving a safe answer.

At the beginning of the twentieth chapter of Luke, the writer tells of an interaction between the Sanhedrin (an order of high priests and teachers of the law) and Jesus. The men come to Jesus and ask Him where he got the authority to heal the sick and preach to the people. Jesus, knowing the men's hearts, knew they wouldn't accept the truthful answer, even if He gave it to them. So, instead, He asks a question in return, one that will require them to publicly accept or reject Him.
He asks, "John's baptism--was it from heaven, or from men?"
In other words, did the man sent to make the way for Jesus get his authority and understanding of these things from God, or men? Answering this question would require them to think about the one John proclaimed the way of, Jesus.
After discussing among themselves, they decided that they could not answer the question. For if they said, "From heaven," Jesus would ask them why they didn't believe, but if they said, "From man," they risk uprising, because the people believed John to be a prophet.
So they gave the very, very safe answer of, "We don't know."
Then, in verse eight, Jesus say, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things."

When we give the safe answer to this all important question of how big our God is and if there's a limit to His power, we risk getting big fat "Nos" in our prayer life.

But the safe
path never brings us fulfillment. We never get the answer we desire or the miracle we need. We must learn to shake this feeling of needing to pray the right thing the right way to get God's attention. We already have His attention, infinitely so. We don't need the right amount of flowery words to appease His holy awesomeness. If we want answered prayers, we need to pray honestly. God already knows your doubts, so why cover them up?
Address them and lay them out before Him so He can begin miraculous healing and open your eyes and heart to His glory.
What if, just maybe, your doubts weren't even legit? What if you just required a slight shift in perspective to see things clearly? What if doubting your doubts could bring you closer to an answer and closer to God?
What if?