Over the past several months, more than a year if i'm honest, i have faced more mountains than i could move. During that time, i thought i was doing well holding up my end of the bargain: i kept my head up, i kept my feet moving, and i never shook my fist at God. The rest, i figured, was up to Him.
Sure, i trusted Him. Most of the time.
And i leaned on Him. Sometimes desperately.
And i praised Him. Even when it hurt.
But i forgot to hold on to those lessons He was teaching me. I allowed my focus to stray from the moment-to-moment, peace-in-the-storm joy of the Lord...and my focus became my own suffering.
I became battle weary. Understandable, some might say. As did i.
But then i did something that i never should have done: i gave myself permission to whine. I was justified, after all; I was going through a lot!
But when i gave myself permission to whine, i constructed an idol. My idol wasn't a statue or a religion or a person; my idol was my pain. I dragged it around and showed it off - "look at my pain," i cried! I let myself make all of my decisions based on my circumstances. My circumstances began to define me.
Now, don't get me wrong, there are seasons of suffering in which we must take care of ourselves. Self care is not selfishness, it is necessity. Even God, in all His infinite wisdom, built rest into His own calendar - and then into ours. Respite gives us needed energy to keep moving and strength to endure.
What i am talking about is the stage during which we must RISE OUT of the ashes and become what God has been shaping us to be. During that metamorphosis from broken to beautiful, we are meant to take off the old and become something new. From a caterpillar to a vibrant butterfly! An amazing miracle of God's hand! We cannot become the butterfly if we hold onto the caterpillar's hardships.
At one point, i knew i had to be doing something wrong; i recognized that i was in sinful disconnect from God, just based on my personal experiences. The problem was, i couldn't put my finger on it! I even asked God repeatedly to show it to me! But God... in all His gentleness, knew i wasn't ready to hear it or see it. My focus was still wrong.
So this morning, after 2 weeks of physical suffering, i awoke without pain and without illness. I have never been so grateful to see 6am and my normal routines! I took joy in my work, delight in my day's obligations, for the first time in months.
And God, being God, finally removed my scales and allowed me to see my sin.
Here i sit, wanting to weep, laugh, praise, and dance... knowing i have broken through the chrysalis - finally! - and ready to see what God wants to use me for in this next season.
I have been prepared for something. We all have. The only choice we have is how we allow ourselves to be used for the Kingdom. Or even if we allow it.
My selfishness, my sin, my pain nearly kept me from whatever God has planned for me. That would have been a far worse fate than anything i have suffered this past year! Praise God, He never gives up on us!
Life can be hard. We can get battle weary. But our earthly circumstances should never define us, and our joy cannot rest in our situation. This life is fleeting, and the moments are temporary. The painful moments and the joyous ones. But the Joy of the Lord is eternal, lasting, and surpasses all this earthly realm has to offer!
Today, i choose joy. And i submit my pain to the One who can make beautiful butterflies out of caterpillars and strong trees after devastating fire. And i cannot wait to see what He does with me! :)