Today, I followed the devotional given by RockHarbor. I also did my usual daily Bible reading in the book of Isaiah. If you’ve ever read Isaiah then you know that the first half of this book is kind of depressing. Luckily, as of yesterday, I started into the “words of comfort” section. Fitting for what I’m about to confess.
See, the RockHarbor devotionals offer a subject of focus for each day. Today was all about prayer. The devotional encouraged us to set aside our usual “practical” prayers (ie please heal this person, please help that person, please give me guidance, etc.) and to instead simply ask God for His Spirit. Then, they recommended that you spend an hour in prayer.
Yes. One. Whole. Hour.
Have you ever attempted to keep your brain silent for a whole stinkin’ hour?? Not an easy task.
They encouraged us to also write down images or words that came to us as we spent this time with God. Remember how I said yesterday that I was scared of God revealing my ugly? Yeah, well, I had predicted correctly. But, the experience wasn’t what I expected.
First, I should say that there was a Bible passage that accompanied the devotional. It was Nehemiah 1:1-11. This is important because my mind kept on wandering so I chose a verse from that passage that spoke to me. When my mind wandered, I went back to that verse to meditate on. This practice is called: lectio devina.
The verse that I chose was Nehemiah 1:5 “O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God…” Every time I strayed, I focused on God’s awesomeness.
Let’s just say, when I first started praying, it was akin to a pre-schooler being told to go to bed. I resisted BIG time. I was tired and crabby… I just felt… ugh. As I sat and tried to pray, all I could think about was how I wanted a nap, or a snack, or a drink of water. Wow, I really do sound like a pre-schooler. But seriously, this went on way too long. I was uncomfortable and didn’t feel like praying right now.
That’s when the ugly came…
Here are some of the words that I heard when I finally started to listen:
– I’m ruled by my emotions.
– I’m obsessed with feeling good, being comfortable.
- I need to be able to understand what God wants of me, it has to make sense to me or I don’t trust it.
So then I prayed:
“God, help me trust you…
reveal what I think I need,
please forgive my doubt, my lack of reliance on you”
Then I had a vision of myself being in a rocky desert. I was desperately, frantically trying to remove some boulders all by myself. Then God, whispered to me to stop trying to do this on my own. He said, “I will calm your anxious heart.” Then, He called me over to a nearby spring that had created a small, cool pool of water. I sat happily while my feet splashed in the water. I felt His comforting presence so vividly.
Then, as I continued to focus on God’s awesomeness… I realized that He wanted to provide me with true comfort. Not external comfort, but internal comfort.
Suddenly, I realized that I wasn’t tired anymore. In fact, I felt totally energized. God’s presence had given me hope, which brought joy, which brought a refreshed spirit. I felt God so clearly saying that He wants to bless me with an internal and eternal spring of joy and peace.
After all of that, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with praise for God. He showed me that He is Provider. Once again, I was reminded that I need to stop striving on my own and to instead, rely on Him.
So obviously, that was a pretty cool experience. God, so gently and sweetly showed me that I am very focused on “feeling good” or “comfortable.” This is something I hadn’t really understood about myself. I began to realize all of the ways that I had neglected gratitude. How I would focus on the things in my life that were frustrating instead of the things that were wonderful.
The weirdest and coolest part of all of this was that I felt no shame. I felt like God had just revealed it and I had observed it like you would a science project. I was fascinated about this newfound part of myself. I was actually grateful that God had revealed it. In fact, it felt like a gift. Like I was suddenly able to lift a sheet of discontent from all areas of my life. I was able to see underneath the ugly and able to see the good. This included current life frustrations and even people. It was like I was able to see people who once really bugged me, through God’s eyes. I saw their pain and their beauty. Both of which gave me a huge appreciation for who they are.
All of this just made me feel… lighter. It’s like I’m not carrying around stuff that was bogging me down before. The desire to complain about situations, to judge others. to feel sorry for myself… I don’t know… it’s muted. It’s still there, but it’s not at the forefront like before.
And you know what? Ironically, it feels really good.
- Pray like Nehemiah (lawrencegm.wordpress.com)
- random teaching/testimonies on fasting (kzlam36.wordpress.com)