Monday, November 7, 2011

Prayers, Process, Promises....and the Payoff

  I have been reading a book called Sun Stand Still, by Steven Furtick.  It was recommended by our Pastor early this year at an awesome leadership retreat.  Yes, it's taken me this long to reach the last chapter.  When I read a devotional book, it's about like when I read the bible.  I'll read a sentence or two, or maybe a couple paragraphs, or maybe even half a chapter, but I always get curious and HUNGRY to know more and I begin to dig deeper.  Praise the LORD for this hunger, which causes me to seek out 'meatier sustenance'.
  The book is mostly about 'Audacious Prayers and Audacious Faith', which I had a very difficult time swallowing (much of the reason why it's taken so long to get through it).  I've always struggled with suggestions like 'audacious prayers'.  My mind turns it around and says it's just 'name-it-claim-it' stuff that is fake.  But I pushed through the book and it took all the way to the 2nd to last chapter before it finally hit me hard enough to make sense.  Wow.  That's all I can say.  Get the book.  Seriously.  You can even find it cheap on Amazon.  I'd loan you mine, but two other people have already asked to borrow it when I'm done.
  I think everyone will get something out of this book that will be unique to their situation.  Don't read it assuming what someone else has told you about it will be the same thing that you gain from it.  God will use it in a deeply personal and specific way if you are open.
  That being said, (and now that I understand this book), I am here to talk very briefly about PROCESS.  Allow me to quote from the aforementioned book:
  "If all God wanted to do was get right to the 'happy ending', you'd be in heaven by now.  If His only intention were to make your dreams come true, He'd snap His fingers and your vision would appear out of thin air.  But that's not all God wants.  And deep down, it's not really all you want either.  You want to learn to walk by faith, not by sight.  And you can't learn that without walking through periods of complete darkness.  The apprehension and gut-level fear you'll feel in these stages may make you turn back and pursue something safer.
  Or you can opt for something better.  You can embrace the process with audacious faith.  Because every big dream has small beginnings.  Between the promise and the payoff, there's always a process.
  And that process is the breeding ground of faith.  That process has the potential to draw you closer to Jesus than you've ever been before.
  The process is the point." 
  I know it's hard to hear someone say, 'Everything happens for a reason'.  Though that is an awful thing to tell someone that is struggling or hurting, it's true at it's base level.  It's the process.  We are going to be processed, it's the way of this world.  However, it's your choice on how you will emerge from this so-called 'refining process'.  Like I talked about last week, it's a choice.  A choice to pursue and push, and keep moving forward.  It's so hard when you come out the end, and it's still not all sunshine and butterflies, but the same place that you started from...or so it seems.  But how did you come out?  That will depend on choices you've made in between.

  I seem to do this processing all at one HUGE TIME.  I hold stuff back, put things off, stay safe down in my rut, and generally keep my smile pasted on my face, while I hide in the dark.  Then, BAM!  I put my foot down and go flying out into space, trying to make things better and seek out that 'change' that I need.  I seem to do this every single time!  What is wrong with me?  (Only God knows that answer...)
  Then I calm down, seek God like I was supposed to, and I have to start at the beginning. What was the purpose behind all this stuff that's been going on in my life?  It usually takes me weeks of digging, studying and researching, praying on my knees, on my face, and feeling very lost in the meantime.  Then, just like it started, BAM, it hits me and I can't believe how stupid I was, and it was right there in front of me!  I had my blinders on - the 'scales' over my eyes!  Oh thank you, Holy Spirit, for the guidance!
  It's not a magic word.  It's not a special prayer, or ceremony or verse.  It's different for everyone, and, especially for me, it's different every time.  It's just the process.
I know I said brief, but I kept going.  Sorry, almost done.

  I have suffered from Chronic Migraines all my life.  From my earliest memories, I can see myself laying in bed at maybe 4 or 5, and crying and screaming and kicking the wall, because my head was exploding in pain, and I didn't understand.
  My genes are to thank for this condition;  my Grandma and Great-Grandma have both suffered.
  As medical research and treatments are advancing, there is looming hope.  But usually, the doctors are just about as puzzled as we are over the condition, and there is never a 'works-for-everyone-everytime' answer.  I have made peace with this condition early on, accepted it as my 'thorn' and moved forward as carefully as possible.
  Not until recently was I given hope.  I told my doctor that my migraines were better from my new anti-hypertensive.  She wanted to know how much better.  Well, instead of migraining 3 times weekly, it's only been 2. And instead of hurting every day, it's only been like 28 out of 30 days.  It's better.
The doctor didn't think so.  Her opinion of better was migraining only once a week, being pain-free for more than 2 days...maybe even going an entire MONTH without a single migraine.
  Yeah right.  That's what my brain said. And my doctor knew it!  She said, you've got to be open to how I can help you, because if you're not, you can leave right now.  Because I can't do anything for you if you don't think I can.  Wow.
  So I attended a 2-hour information class, which I thought I'd know everything they'd tell me.  And guess what?  I barely knew anything.  And you know something else?  One lady (the one who always keeps talking about herself and asking stupid questions and making stupid comments - and makes the class go longer and longer (you know who I'm talking about....)), ended up leaving because she came right out at the beginning admitting that nothing would help her and all she wanted was morphine.
  I gained so much information, knowledge and insight through that 3 hour class (yes, that lady made it go that much longer!) that I suddenly felt empowered and hopeful.  It's been a long time since I felt hopeful in regards to my migraines.  Just the knowledge alone was the spark that fueled my desire to be well again.
  Very recently, I have experienced a change in my life that has seemingly eliminated my daily pain.  All I can say is -OH MY GOSH - what a process.  27 years (or am I 28?) of chronic pain, and acceptance that it's normal...then one day I don't hurt.  Strange.  2 days, I don't hurt...what the heck is wrong with me? (That is honestly how I felt when I didn't hurt - that something must be wrong).  Suddenly it's been 5 days, with no pain, and life is brand new to me.  I weep when I thank the LORD for this miracle, and you know something?  It doesn't hurt to cry anymore.
  Talk about a bear of a process...and I still don't know all of what I am supposed to have learned from this.  But I do know that I have been so near to God through my pain... As I said in previous post, "I Thank Thee For My Thorn".  And I truly mean it.
  Now I can say, "Thank You, LORD, for the process.  I am hopeful in Your promise"

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