Maiz came up to me the other day, in confusion more than sadness and said,
"Momma, I keep praying and God doesn't answer."
Being the good Christian mother I am, I answered her with the correct, "God always answers. He has three answers. No, slow, go. Like a stoplight." There's that. Spiritual truth communicated. And I went on with my important tasks of nothingness.
Holy spirit punch. It was a light one, but a punch nonetheless.
This is the moment, kb. She's opening her soul.
You see, my spunky sunshine of a 5-year-old has been discouraged lately. She has had some of the same struggles in a certain area for about a year. Now, she's not a walking ball of discouragement. Just in this one thing, she feels defeated. Like she'll never get it right.
"Maiz, come here. You know what momma said is true. But I didn't mention that it's HARD. And sometimes all we can do is just keep trying. Sometimes God lets us struggle through things so that we can learn perseverance and obedience and dependence on Him."
Another holy spirit punch, get real with her kb.
"Maiz baby, it's like momma and the chocolate cake..."
A little light goes on in her brain and a smile goes on her face. NOW I'm starting to get through. Momma's been at this for years and she absolutely gets what you are going through, kiddo.
(Side note: My girls LOVE hearing about momma and the chocolate cake. I think they just get a kick out of momma struggling with something as silly as triple-chocolate cake with pink frosting, but what do they know, right?)
Fast forward-two days later, I am at a point of discouragement. I have had some of the same struggles in a certain area for about a year (or 10!). I'm not a walking ball of discouragement. Just in this one thing, I currently feel defeated. Like I'll never get it right.
The chocolate cake is not always just an example. In fact, despite all the victories I've had, "it" still tempts me regularly. And even if I stand firm and say "no," lately the subsequent pity party and bitterness that could follow are still a victory for Satan and my flesh. The script is so common.
God, this is still so hard (true). I still want to go back to my old ways even after a year of small victories, even after I just boasted that I've lost 50 pounds, I STILL want to eat this (true). And, one piece of chocolate cake wouldn't hurt me or make me gain the weight back (half-true). After all, it seems so unfair that I can't enjoy something-you made life to be enjoyable (half-true). And I can't possibly be expected to abstain from eating this food my entire life, because that is simply just unfair (lie). I've obeyed so long that I deserve this (lie). So I am going to do what I want to do, because I know what is best for me (lie).
And I bought it-hook, line, and sinker. Or maybe I should say, hook, line, and stinker.
"WHATEVER IS TRUE...think about such things." (Phil 4:8)
I should have stopped it right away at the truth and then thrown those at God for Him to deal with, because those mental half-lies quickly become full lies. And the thought process is so fast that we don't even see it coming.
Back to Genesis 3.
"Did God REALLY say?"
RUN, Eve! Call out for God! He's RIGHT THERE!!!
"You will not surely die."
Eve, you have no idea of the epic battle that you are becoming a pawn in. Satan cares NOTHING for you.
What's telling, though, is what I did next, after the chocolate cake with pink frosting (you get now that it wasn't REALLY chocolate cake, right?). Instead of calling out to God, I went to my friends. Yes, I need accountability, but what I really, REALLY needed was to repent and to run back to God and have Him clean me up and help me. But I was looking for the next program, wise comment, friendly exhortation to help me.
And YES, following a program can be a good thing as can all those other things.
But, the truth is that Katie already knows what Katie needs to do and, frankly, she's just tired of doing it. And to be honest, she feels as if it's a bit unfair. She wants the easy button.
Neither friends nor accountability nor exhortation nor a program can change our hearts, whatever it is that our hearts are struggling with.
But Jesus can.
Through our offering of obedience, Jesus can.
And I was tired of obeying.
I had actually been obeying very well for what felt like forever, so...
I just wanted God to answer my prayers to take the struggle and the rest of the hard work out of the equation. I would rather have a fairy godmother and her magic wand just until I lose the rest of the weight rather than my Father in Heaven who has a long-view of this thing and of me. He doesn't disappear at midnight.
Just like my girlie and her struggle.
After I talked to her, the next morning in fact, I read this timely "surely-this-Bible-study-was-written-just-for-me" verse in my Bible Study (Beth Moore's Breaking Free):
"This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says 'In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.'"
And the Lord said the exact same thing to me as I said to Maizie.
To quote Beth Moore:
"The exact Hebrew word translated trust in this verse appears only once in the Old Testament. The word bitchah means "nothing more that one can do." Once we've obeyed God, we can do nothing more. We then wait on Him to bring the victory, knowing that the consequences of our obedience are His problem, not ours."
For some reason, in this area of my life, continued victory is taking a while. Despite my crying out and my what feels like constant praying to be free, I haven't woken up free from the struggle. There are things that make it easier (like accountability and not having chocolate cake in the house), but the truth is that the only thing that will bring me freedom is continued dependence and obedience.
And when I obey, all I can do is trust Him with that. So, I will repent and rest in Him. I will lay my heart down, the part that keeps wanting to run from one program to the next. The part that wants to stretch the boundaries He's given me "just this once." The not quiet and not rested part that is constantly and chaotically looking for new and better answers. The part of my heart that "would have none of it." I will repent and choose to stay in the knowledge that if I quietly persevere with that which I know He has called me to do, I can trust that Him with the outcome.
God always answers, but sometimes God waits us out and in the process we begin crying out a different prayer.
Help me be more like you, Jesus. Whatever it takes. However many "no thank-yous" and strange looks and crying out to you to fill up the holes that I would love to dump food into. Thank you that I have to depend on You this hard for something in my life.
There is so much more hope in that.
So, I guess, for Maizie this looks the same. Continued obedience even when it's hard and no Maizie-visible results are happening. And it may be hard for a long while. But, I guess if I really think about it, I'm not praying for that girl to have an easy life. I'm praying for her to have a God-dependent life.
Lord, give me patience with our situations as you works with our hearts. May they not become strongholds of discouragement, but a reminder that we absolutely need you. And may that knowledge cause us to obey your word and REST in you-that you will bring the ultimate victories.