Jun 17, 2013

Eating My Own Words

I always enjoy eating my own words.  

OK, well, maybe not always, but I enjoyed them this past week.
During a weekly prayer time with two coworkers, one of them confessed a struggle with finding motivation to read his bible and pray.  A few months ago he attended a men’s conference, and, as often happens with many conferences, he came home excited and highly motivated to read his bible and pray more often. 
Then, as he put it, life happened.

The heartfelt desire awakened by the conference had all but disappeared, so he thought something was wrong.  He felt hypocritical by just reading or praying when he didn’t feel it in his heart.  Condemning thoughts like, “See, you aren’t that close to God” fueled the doubt in his mind and the belief that he was slipping away from God.  

All because he no longer felt the desire in his heart.

Having been there, done that, the other co-worker and I immediately encouraged our friend that God is pleased with obedience, period.  And that it was very normal and human to not feel a deep and heartfelt closeness to God every day.  Feelings alone are not to be trusted, and are often used by the enemy to lead us into condemnation and judgment of ourselves and others.  Choosing to obey no matter how we feel always leads us toward God.  So therefore finding motivation in simply obeying God – praying, reading the bible, doing our best to follow Him each day – is not hypocritical at all.  

As we continued to share our experiences and talk about obedience, and affirm that it’s what you choose to do and not the feelings you have (or don’t have) that is most important, the weight visibly lifted from his shoulders.  We all went to work refreshed, encouraged, and ready for a great day.

Then, life happened to me, and how quickly I found myself eating my own words.

Last night, Don came home after a very long and hot day working on the roof.  The heat doesn’t normally affect him, but it did yesterday.  No fever, blood pressure and pulse normal, no mental confusion, only slight nausea.  So we ruled out heat stroke.  His only symptom was that he felt anxiety and his muscles were just twitching away.  We blew past our normal 8:30 bedtime as we tried various methods to help him relax, and looked on the internet for guidance.

From my “extensive” internet research, I professionally diagnosed he had an electrolyte imbalance.  So at 11PM, we were off to the store for some Pedialyte and Gatorade.  Even with that, he spent most of the night getting up and laying back down, and trying to calm down.  While I did sleep through much of his wee-hours fidgeting, I also woke up several times as I sensed him getting up and leaving the room.  It was a restless night for all. 

We both woke up at our usual time, 5AM, craving more sleep but knowing we had to go to work.  I shuffled down to the kitchen to make our breakfast and pack lunches, feeling grumpy, tired, and, well, OK, irritated with Don for keeping me up half the night.  You know, like he intentionally made his muscles twitch just to keep me up.

Time to pray.

What, pray for him?

But I don’t feel like it. 
It’s not in my heart to pray, I'm actually quite annoyed with him, so how can I be expected to pray right now?  

A seemingly well-tuned chorus of reasons not to pray flowed through my mind.  So I went with the flow, and added my own blend of judgment and condemnation to the mix.

Wait, didn’t I just hear something about this yesterday?  

Fork in hand, full, moving toward mouth.

Wow, even after a fresh discussion about simple obedience, I lapsed back to following my feelings.  Then I started to feed on the lies the enemy threw at me as justification for my feelings.  After a lack of sleep, of course I was tired, cranky, and didn’t feel like praying.  The enemy knew it – he saw the magnified bull’s eye on my back, aimed, and hit the mark.

But thankfully, although I was down, by the grace of God I was not out.  I could still freely choose.  

I took a bite, swallowed, and then prayed.

As I prayed, love and compassion for Don slowly softened my heart.  The desire to pray increased as I brought my husband to the Father and asked for healing.  I repented for judging him, and received the Lord’s forgiveness.  

Meal completed.

Thank you, Lord, for your just-in-time lesson on obedience vs. feelings. Eating my own words never tasted so good!

Today's Challenge:  Think of a recent time when you had an opportunity to eat your own words.  Did you?  How could you have responded differently, and how could that have affected the results?

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