Thursday, September 15, 2011

Real Life Women: Seeking Hard After God

How long have I been a Christian?  I accepted Christ in 1979, so 32 years!

What has been the toughest season or the biggest lesson learned so far?
Well, I’ve had a few rough seasons! But I think the toughest season I’ve had was when I went through a long season of depression. I didn’t walk away from the Lord, but it was all I could do to function. I felt paralyzed, like I wanted to crawl under the covers and stay there. Everything was hard. In my mind, everything was distorted. It wasn’t always rational. I withdrew from people. I was dealing with a lot of fear because of some specific circumstances.

Sometimes I would just hug my Bible and cry out to the Lord. I couldn’t bring myself to open it, but I was comforted by even holding it. The Lord was the only thing that got me through that time. He really walked me through “the valley of the shadow of death.” I’m so grateful that as I tried my best to cling to Him, He was holding tight to me. He never left me or forsake me. I only functioned and kept any form of sanity because of Him. Yep, that was my roughest season.

I am so thankful for what I learned about my God during that time. Never before had I ever sensed His love and concern for me like I did then. The Lord was my only strength and hope during that time, and not only was He faithful in brining me through, He continues to uphold me every day of my life.

How does your relationship with Jesus affect the entirety of your life?
Well, it is my life. I would like to say He is the very center of my life but sadly, I fall very short of making Him that; yet that is my goal. That’s what I pray for and strive after. I’m constantly asking Him to make me more like Him.  My relationship with Him affects how I think, how I feel, and what I do. It changes my perspective on people; it changes my perspective on the situations in my life; it changes my world view. I look at everything differently because of Jesus.

My life verse is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”  (Matthew 22:37)  Not because I always do that, but my goal is to keep learning how! 

What do you do when you need encouragement or uplifting?
Well, I wish I could say I always just “run to Jesus” because that sounds so spiritual and right. And a lot of times that's true. Sometimes I may go to a friend or family member first who I can count on to encourage me. I like to read devotions and books that I find uplifting. But eventually, I always come to the realization that true encouragement comes form the Lord through his Word.

I rely very heavily on the Word of God to find my help. Really, God encourages me in a way that no one else can, because even when my friends try to relate, the comfort somehow is still lacking. Or short lived, I should say.

It really doesn’t seem to matter what area of my life I need encouragement in, He always has the best words of advice, comfort, or healing.  Friends help, books are awesome, sermons are great. Going to retreats and conferences are always refreshing and challenging. They are all fantastic tools that I find help and comfort in. But bottom line, the Word of God speaks to me like nothing else.  Very specific and personal.

What encouragement would you give to other ladies who are trying to pursue God?
First, I would encourage them to seek the Lord with everything they’ve got. (Don’t give up when you don’t “feel” Him.) Discipline your time to be in God’s Word every day. There is really no other way to grow. I believe that pursuing God means to follow after Him and do what He says. If we honestly want to follow Him, we have to learn “who” He is, how He loves, how He forgives, how He shows mercy, and how He lived His life while here on earth.

Scripture says that we are to “have the mind of Christ.”  But as we read His word, we have to do it with the intent of obeying it. It’s not pursuing God if you simply are reading His Word without making the decision to follow it. There must be action in the pursuit. Sometimes that may be acts of service, sometimes that may be changing our attitude or the way we think about someone or something. Sometimes the action is showing mercy and forgiving someone when we have been wronged. Usually it’s adjusting our will to align with His!  Learning and doing the things which Christ commands is what pursuing Him is all about. Learning more of Him, loving Him with all you got, and obeying Him at all costs.

On the flip side, it isn’t trying to make God into what you’d like Him to be. It isn’t praying about things to get our own way. It’s not pursuing our own “things” and then asking God to “bless” them, or writing our own agenda for our life. It isn’t coming to God on your own terms. It’s learning who He is, and then what His will is for your life, not visa versa. I love what Paul said when he met the Lord on the road to Damascus. His first 2 questions were  ”Who are You Lord” and then “What do You want me to do?  (Acts 9:5-6) Those are the questions we should be asking every day.  That’s what pursuing God is all about.   

Secondly, I would tell ladies to study His Word and learn what it means to “pray without ceasing.”  They should allow themselves to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, understanding that in themselves, they are nothing. I would tell them to get into a church that teaches the Bible consistently and doesn’t stray from that, find some friends that can encourage them in their faith by holding them accountable to Scripture and friends who also have a desire to grow. I would tell them to ask God to “break their heart for what breaks His” and to always pray to have a heart for the lost. Always. Through His Word, find out what’s important to God, and make those things important to them as well!

*Have a question for Kelly, Tamara, or Kathie? Leave it in the comment section and they'll answer you!
^^^Opinions, two-cents, questions and ramblings are welcome. And go above. Go ahead. Try it.

Reader Faves.