Originally written March 2, 2014
As I have written before, I love the Olympics. Now that the 2014 Winter Olympics are over I am in a bit of a mourning period but I guess its only 2 years until the next one. I have always wanted to go to Brazil so this may be my chance!
As I have heard a lot of different stories lately about Olympic athletes, I was recently reminded of the disappointing story of Matt Emmons during the 2004 Summer Olympics. Emmons, an air-rifle shooter, went into his last shot in first place needing only a mediocre shot to earn the gold. He shot with precision and ease only to discover that he had shot the target in the next lane over, resulting in a score of 0. This was low enough for him to finish in 8th place.
The past few weeks, I have felt a little like Emmons. I have been on a search the past couple of years to discover who I am and who God is. I was confused about many things and needed to realign with the truth of God's word and apply it in my life. I have needed to be quite introspective and its actually been good. I actually had to discover who I truly am out of necessity.
A couple of weeks ago our pastor preached about this search of self and its importance. He said something that really stuck with me. He said that we are easily controlled by people other than the Lord if we don't know who we really are. That's the trap I fell into that I have needed to crawl out of and God has been gracious to lead me on that search. Now, He is leading me to move on.
In this process though, I have missed the target by a smidge, no actually I was a whole lane over. My one word that I have chosen to have God fine-tune in me this year is TRUST. But, my goal was to learn to trust God and to trust myself. I thought that sounded pretty good because obviously, through the years I have not been trustworthy even to myself as I was so swayed by others and my need to please them. I really thought I was on the right track. Thankfully, God has been showing me that I have been missing the mark.
This trust thing has been a tough one for me. As I have looked back on my past blog posts it has been a popular subject that I have obviously wrested over. I recently met with my pastor's wife and we were discussing the vows that some of us make at different times of our life. I have vowed never to eat processed sugar again, which lasted about 4 days. I have even vowed to never drink diet coke again (my oldest son is always getting after me about artificial sweeteners) but that has never lasted more than about 2 days.
The most tragic vow I made however was as I was hearing about how my dad had committed suicide over his lunch break when I was 8 years old. At that point I vowed to never trust anyone again. That is the one vow I have actually stuck with. As my dear pastor's wife prayed with me for God to break the hold of that vow in my life, I felt as though God were revealing the actual vow I had made. My vow really wasn't to never trust in anyone, it was actually that I would never trust anyone besides myself.
The semantics sound similar but they are really quite different. I had decided at the age of 8 that I alone was responsible to keep me safe, to find direction in my life, to provide my own emotional needs, and the list goes on. As I have experienced a lot of hurt and betrayal in my most important relationships, I have been desperate to improve myself and to get stronger as "my own person" because obviously, I was not doing a very good job in protecting myself from people or from being strong enough to detach from them like I had tried so hard to do all my life.
As the true vow was revealed, I felt like God was telling me that I don't need to include myself in that "trust building program" because that was what I have been doing all along. That was pretty hard to hear. As I thought about how vulnerable I would have to become to let go of this desperation to do whatever it took to make me strong enough to build my own protection from people, hurt and pain, I wasn't sure I could do it. That is when I kept hearing the words "Trust Me" over and over again from the God of the Universe. It kind of freaked me out really!
I was hitting the bulls-eye about the trust thing but I was missing the target by aiming at myself as the center. I now have to make a new vow to trust only in Him. Sometimes I would rather give up sugar than to surrender this difficult area to Him but I know it's the only thing that makes any sense.
As I listened to a sermon by Francis Chan today, I was so refreshed to hear him admit that he too has a hard time trusting people. It hit me that I couldn't remember a time in the Bible where God told me to trust in other people, or myself for that matter. I know, I can't take this too far and need to trust people enough to be in relationships, but it did give me a certain freedom to not worry about it so much. As I started to search God's Word, I found verse after verse about trusting God but also warning after warning about trusting other people and even ourselves. My favorite one is Proverbs 3:5-7. This says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil." Jeremiah 17: 5 says "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength." That's what I have been doing! I have been working so hard to trust myself not realizing that the strength I needed was not in me but in Him.
This has been a great "aha moment" for me but I have to admit that sometimes it amazes me how dense I can actually be! God spelled all of this out to me about 4 years ago and somehow once again I missed the mark in not letting it really sink in.
After learning about a devastating betrayal by someone I actually thought I could kind-of trust, I was in a very dark place. I actually prayed and prayed that God would let me experience a brain aneurysm and I would simply not wake up. I had heard of these and it sounded like a really peaceful way for all the pain to just disappear.
One afternoon, as I was crying out to God for help, He gave me a vision. You need to understand that being an "evangelical" Christian, I was not exactly familiar with the whole vision thing, so when I first started to have this vision, I thought for sure my prayer for a brain aneurysm was being answered. I wasn't sure this was a part of it but I was definitely on board so I let it flow.
What I experienced was a feeling that I was actually playing myself in the scene, while also seeing it from a distance as if I were watching a movie. In the first scene in this vision, I was in an open field, surrounded by a brick wall. Arrows started to hit the wall, causing big holes to appear in my fortress, so I sprang into action, repairing the wall as quickly as I could. I felt desperate to keep up but I couldn't repair the holes fast enough.
By then, I thought the aneurysm was in full force because I suddenly became extremely cold. I wrapped myself up in my comforter and went downstairs to sit on my couch. That's when the second scene unfolded. In this scene, I was in the middle of the field but my wall was gone. The arrows kept coming but this time I had no defense. Then I noticed that as soon as the arrows would hit me, a force, who somehow I knew to be God, would come and heal where the arrow had wounded me. The arrows didn't stop, but I knew that I would be ok. At that point, I told God that I knew that it was Him that was healing me and my cold chill was replaced by an engulfment of warmth, like a big warm hug. That's when I realized that this was an actual vision from the Lord and that my brain still seemed to be functioning properly.
I have looked back on the lesson of that vision many times over the years and it has been a tremendous blessing to me. I suppose God in his mercy and patience, understands that sometimes we come to understanding in baby steps. As I have learned this recent lesson on trust, I see again, that I simply can't protect myself, no matter how hard I try. But, I know that He is my Protector and my Strength. Psalm 91 says, "Whoever goes to the Lord for safety, whoever remains under the protection of the Almighty, can say to him, 'You are my defender and protector. You are my God; in You I trust.'
I also realized that no matter what we do, those arrows are going to come. Sometimes they even come from within ourselves. When they do though, He is there to heals the wounds that they create. Psalm 147:3 says, "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." He demonstrated that to me in my vision, so why have I been so afraid to trust Him? Have you had the same fear?
Francis Chan reminded me that yes, He can be trusted and will do what He says He will do. If He says that we can trust Him, He will not let us down. Other people will and even I will myself, but He won't. 2 Timothy 2:13, says "If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself." That is a reassuring verse for me because if He says He is faithful, it is against who He is to not be. That makes sense to me.
I hope it makes sense to you too because I have a feeling that I am not the only one who deals with this area of trust. I read that God tells us to trust Him over 180 times in His Word, so it must be an issue He knew we would deal with. Our own negative experiences can certainly get in the way. A woman who I asked recently to be my mentor, encouraged me to not get frustrated when I can't seem to bite off the entirety of being able to trust God, but to take the first step and tell God that I at least want to trust Him but I may need Him to help me to do it. Maybe that could be your first step as well.