Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I've been rebuked!

Okay, I know that I'm a little odd, but I'm actually excited about this: God rebuked me this morning! On the subway, I was reading Having a Mary Spirit and found the following in a list of ways to experience the Holy Spirit's leading:

"Beware the Spirit's withdrawal. Our disobedience grieves and hinders the Holy Spirit's work. If He is insistent that you obey in some area, do it--or you'll feel a lack of the Spirit's presence."

Oh boy, was that like getting hit between the eyes with a two-by-four. I've felt that lack of the Spirit's presence recently and I know exactly why.

Two times this year, God has laid on my heart to do three things: (1) Give up after-dinner snacks, (2) Go upstairs to bed earlier at night, and (2) Pray for someone specific in my family (who shall remain nameless here). The first time God spoke to me about these was at the beginning of Lent, and I followed through. The second time was more recent and was kicked off for me by Trish's Forty Days of Faith project. The second time, I wasn't as faithful to following God's directions. I did great at first, but then I fizzled out when events in my life and in my loved ones' lives started to get stressful.

In the last few weeks, I've been floundering and questioning and asking God to bring me closer to Him and to let me hear His voice and, although my desire is sincere, I see now why my concentration and efforts have been half-hearted.

I don't know why God asked me to do these very specific things. Well, that's not entirely true. Some of it is easy to figure out. The after-dinner snacks aren't good for me health-wise, and I know that I use food as a crutch and comfort when I'm stressed out, angry, depressed, etc. Going upstairs to bed earlier gives me time for prayer and devotions, plus helps me get a good night's sleep, which makes me happier and better equipped to be a good and patient mother, wife, co-worker, etc. Praying for this one person in my life is less clear because I don't know exactly what I'm supposed to pray for, but the act of doing it has done wonders for my relationship with this person.

And, when I was following God's directions for me, I felt REALLY GOOD. Physically, mentally, spiritually. I was hearing God's voice and seeing prayers answered in wonderful and unusual ways, and I felt very close to Him. I was really trusting Him.

Ever since I messed up and stopped following his directions closely, I've been moody, felt uncomfortable physically in my own body, had less patience, and entered the lovely cycle of eating to make myself feel better, which then makes me feel bloated and gross, which then makes me feel guilty for doing it in the first place. And, I feel distant from God, like I'm just grasping at little wisps of of Him here and there.

Reading that excerpt of the book this morning made me realize that God didn't just ask me to follow those directions for Lent, he meant always. And, here I've been rationalizing to myself: I'm a generally healthy person, I'm not overweight, I don't need to be so strict about this diet stuff. I'll just stay up to watch one more episode of fill-in-the-blank silly sitcom because I need to veg out and relax. I'll pray for him/her tomorrow morning.

I know that God knows best. He knows the reason why I should stop my unhealthy habits, even if relative to other people's addictions, they don't seem that bad. Maybe he's keeping me from a heart attack down the road or getting my body and spirit ready for a trial of some kind. I just can't know.

But any time I get a message from God like I did this morning, I get excited. I love those moments when my eyes bug out in my head and my mouth drops open from surprise at how God can speak so directly to me. Because it means He still loves me. A lot. He hasn't given up on me, even when I'm not really paying attention to Him.

And, just in case I missed it, He threw me another aha! moment. Over the last week or so, I've been singing in my head Psalm 51:10: "Create in me a clean heart, O God; And renew a right spirit within me." Well, here are the last three sentences of the chapter I read this morning on the subway:

"For God's Holy Spirit can create in you a clean heart and a right spirit. Restoring to you such joy in your salvation, such compassion in your heart, that you won't feel the need to call down fire from heaven.

For heaven's fiery love will fill your soul."
I put the book down at that point just to let it all sink in, to thank God for reaching out to me, and to tell Him that I heard Him loud and clear. God is the best! :-)

And, thank you and blessings to Joanna Weaver for her amazing books (cool - I just found her blog!) and to my mom for lending this particular one to me.


Greg C said...

Cool. I feel the same way. When I start to stray or do something that I know I shouldn't, I find myself getting further from God. I often wonder if the devil is trying to drive a wedge between us. On days when I really buckle down and do the right things like ready the Bible and do unselfish acts, I find that God speeks loudly to me. This morning I was reading in Jeremiah and read a passage which talks about this same thing and it spread some light on what is going on. I find that I sleep better too when I talk with God regularly.


Suztash said...

Kristen, I am so happy that you have such a close relationship with God that you are sensitive to His nudgings. Sometimes God is training you in obedience in small ways so that you will be ready to handle greater things. Remember the three servants who were given "talents"(KJV) before their master left and two put them to good use and multiplied their value while the other hid his in the ground? The two who increased the worth of what they were given were considered faithful and their master gave them more! Remember though that our feelings can deceive us, too. That is where faith comes in. Even when we don't feel God near, or feel that He is silent, He is there and speaking. It's when we set the time aside to listen in our prayer, Bible reading and devotions that we quiet our spirits and actually pick up on what He is trying to say to us. Isn't it wonderful to get a glimpse of God's beautiful character? Have you picked up on His sense of humor? We always think of the beauty of nature, but sometimes there are creatures that are just funny, either in their looks or their antics. God delights in all of His creation! Getting a glimpse of Him just makes us ever more hungry and thirsty for more! God bless. Hope you have a wonderful day! Love you.

shaun said...

That's really cool Kristen,
It's always amazing when He speaks directly to me. I have never heard like an audible voice or anything, but He knows just how to really speak to each of us in a personal way. I would agree that this alone proves His love for us(and you). Peace

Heidi @ GGIP said...

That's really great that you did hear God, and that you were willing to write about it.

Wanda said...

Rebuking isn't fun ~~~~ but only a loving Father would be so concerned about our walk with him, he uses all kinds of things to remind us.

Books have always been a source of rebuking for me... He speaks through others, and today, standing at the kitchen sink, he revealed an area I need to work on...He's so Good.

Love and Hugs in your Spiritual Journey...