Monday, August 20, 2007

Counting my Blessings

Editor's Note: I wrote this blog today because my mind and heart were reeling. I looked for someone to talk to, but when no one was available, I knew I had to blog through it. Praise be to God, that by the time I got to the end of this post, the answer was revealed.

I should offer a subtitle to this one: Pushing through this. I don't know why I am where I am right now spiritually, but I know I gotta get through this. I gotta get right with God again. I covet your prayers for me at this time.

I started my position as Event Coordinator of the Pregnancy Care Center on Monday, July 16th. Immediately, it was tough. As someone who needs a certain physical arrangement such as an office with a door, a desk lamp which casts a warm, amber glow and Gospel music playing quietly in the background in order to be able to concentrate, I was a bit underwhelmed to find my new "spot." It consisted of a desk from the 1960's parked against a wall in a huge conference room, cordoned off with some Mary-Tyler-Moore-looking cubicle wall. Above me, garish flourescent lights buzzed like bees. My computer, with a Gateway monitor and an NEC tower, operates on Windows 98. It has no USB ports and no speakers for which to listen to music. Even if it did, since I'm located in a common area, it probably would be bothering someone.

I thought to myself, "Quit being a spoiled brat. Be thankful for this opportunity to work here - a place where you are surrounded by Christian women, where you're encouraged to pray on the job. God brought you here for a moment like this." I continued to pray that He would give me focus and clarity and an ability to do the best job I could. Yet every day, I found it harder to get out of bed and make it to work.

Then the work came. Mostly, it's been telemarketing, at best. I phone business after business after business asking them to "make a donation" as a form of advertising at our Fall Fundraising Banquet. I only have to raise 30,000 dollars. At about 350 dollars per contribution, my math-whiz, Ben, tells me "86. You need 86 contributors to reach 30,000." Need I tell you, I hate the phone. Email and the Internet are THE greatest inventions EVER. I don't stutter over email. I stutter over the phone. I can send one email to a gazillion people at one time. I have to make phone calls ONE AT A TIME. I have to repeat myself OVER and OVER and OVER again. And I won't forget to mention - I have to ask for money. Ugh. Could it get any worse? Of course it can, because now that we're down to the halfway point, the contributions are coming in at 175 dollars, instead of 350. I continue to praise God for every dollar raised, knowing He is Able to make a way where there is no way. But still, the phone gets heavier every time I have to pick it up.

I had so much joy in knowing that after "MacBeth" was over, I would finally have time on my hands. I could get caught up on laundry and housecleaning. I could take my kids to the pool. I could spend a week organizing props and cleaning costumes from our Theatre Company. The more I delved into the laundry and housecleaning, the more I realized how disgusting my kids were. Oh the stuff I found under their beds and in their closets. I found myself overwhelmed and complaining all the time. I'd pray, "God I repent of these ill feelings toward my children, but wow, when did this get so bad?" I was reminded of how beautiful each of my children are - how intelligent, how good-natured. I was reminded of how healthy they are. I know so many children who are ill or disabled. I kept praying, "Thank you, Lord, for my children, no matter how messy they are." Guess what happened the next time I started complaining? My dryer died. God has a way of reminding you to count your blessings, doesn't He?

It was official. I had become a victim of Chronic Complaining Disorder. I knew it was wrong. I kept begging for God to show me a way out of all of this negativity. I was walking around my house saying, "No Whining. No Whining. No Whining" - and I wasn't talking to my kids. When Brother Brian preached about Aubyn pushing the lawn mower and pleading, "But Daddy...." I heard him loud and clear. Yesterday, when Brother Tim followed the Spirit and just gave us time to give God Thankfulness and Praise for all of our blessings, I did. I wept tears of joy for all of my many blessings. But then something happened today. I had to get up and go to work. I trudged into work, pleading, "But Daddy..." the whole way.

Then I opened my email, and there it was in my Inbox - my special devotional from You never tire of hearing that, do you? Me neither.

"Come unto Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28
From "My Utmost for His Highest"
"God means us to live a fully-orbed life in Christ Jesus, but there are times when that life is attacked from the outside, and we tumble into a way of introspection which we thought had gone. Self-consciousness is the first thing that will upset the completeness of the life in God, and self-consciousness continually produces wrestling. Self-consciousness is not sin; it may be produced by a nervous temperament or by a sudden dumping down into new circumstances. It is never Gods will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in Him. Anything that disturbs rest in Him must be cured at once, and it is not cured by being ignored, but by coming to Jesus Christ. If we come to Him and ask Him to produce Christ-consciousness, He will always do it until we learn to abide in Him.

Never allow the dividing up of your life in Christ to remain without facing it. Beware of leakage, of the dividing up of your life by the influence of friends or of circumstances; beware of anything that is going to split up your oneness with Him and make you see yourself separately. Nothing is so important as to keep right spiritually. The great solution is the simple one - "Come unto Me." The depth of our reality, intellectually, morally and spiritually, is tested by these words. In every degree in which we are not real, we will dispute rather than come.

Whenever anything begins to disintegrate your life with Jesus Christ, turn to Him at once and ask Him to establish rest. Never allow anything to remain which is making the dis-peace. Take every element of disintegration as something to wrestle against, and not to suffer. Say - 'Lord, prove Thy consciousness in me,' and self-consciousness will go and He will be all in all. Beware of allowing self-consciousness to continue because by slow degrees it will awaken self-pity, and self-pity is Satanic. 'Well, I am not understood;' 'this is a thing they ought to apologize for;' 'that is a point I really must have cleared up.' Leave others alone and ask the Lord to give you
Christ-consciousness, and He will poise you until the completeness is absolute.

The complete life is the life of a child. When I am consciously conscious, there is something wrong. It is the sick man who knows what health is. The child of God is not conscious of the will of God because he is the will of God. When there has been the slightest deviation from the will of God, we begin to ask - What is Thy will? A child of God never prays to be conscious that God answers prayer, he is so restfully certain that God always does answer prayer.

If we try to overcome self-consciousness by any common-sense method, we will develop it tremendously. Jesus says, "Come unto Me and I will give you rest," i.e., Christ-consciousness will take the place of self-consciousness. Wherever Jesus comes He establishes rest, the rest of the perfection of activity that is never conscious of itself."

The more conscious of my "self" I became, the more "self-conscious" I became. I started to doubt my gifts and abilities. And doubt, may I remind you is the opposite of Faith. I know these gifts and abilities are God-given. Who am I to doubt what He's given me? I started to feel inferior to my co-workers. I even started to feel like maybe they hired the wrong person, and maybe they knew it too. Satan began using these lies to keep me from fulfilling my purpose - God's purpose.

I must remember that I am a child of God and rest in that. I must remember to see me as God sees me - as His precious child. I may stutter sometimes, but that does not make me a lesser person. The Power of Jesus goes before me - I am washed in His blood. Nothing can separate me from the love of God. If He is with me, who can stand against me? No one. Not Satan. Not even my "self."

If any of this rings true to you and where you are today, call out to Him and say, "Lord, prove Thy consciousness in me." Remember who you are in Christ and praise Him for His Abundant Love. He will remind you that every blessing that surrounds you is completely of Him. You will be so lifted up in your praise of our great God, I promise you, self-consciousness WILL go, and He will give you rest.