I read an article today about avoiding discouragement, and one of the suggestions was to take our thought lives under control. I can relate to that. Personally, I am very much my own worst enemy. My head tells me lies all the time about who I am, what I’m worth, what God must think of me… Really, there’s nothing like being victimized by one’s own head. I have to trust what God says and not the version of reality my head holds onto.
I’ve been telling a story about drifting from God’s truths and how God brought me back around. When I left off I was reading the Bible again, looking for God’s truths, finally rowing my drifting boat back toward land, back into the right currents to lead me home.
But apparently I wasn’t there yet, because discouragement was around the bend, and it had everything to do with my thought life, with what appeared true versus what was true. Spiritual battle hit hard. Satan was about to lose a useless Christian. Heaven was about to gain a warrior. There had to be a clash.
Shamefully, I listened to the wrong side, and the narratives that had plagued me as I’d drifted hit hard. Friendships felt lonely and false. Memories of loss and hurt were stronger than ever. And even though I was now opening my Bible, I was reading it and seeing half truths. For instance, Satan liked to remind me of the passage where people come to God on judgment day and he says I never knew you. I was afraid that was me. Was I going to call and find he never knew me? How would I know if he knew me?
But there’s more to the verse. Those who weren’t known were practicers of lawlessness. I know I sin, but I seek to repent and obey. I’m not a practicer of lawlessness, but I had been blind to that part, had forgotten it and clung to the words that discouraged me. Realizing this, I delved into the Word for the full truths, trying to negate the lies, but I was losing ground. I don’t know why, except I think God wanted to be a little more dramatic with me. Time for me to stop falling for the same old ploys over and over.
Spiritual battle. The father of lies muddied the waters. The oars were in the water, but I couldn’t quite find the current home. I was trying to find the path on my own. The Spirit wanted to stage a rescue. White knight, tall horse, the works.
A few churches in town hosted a conference in December. It was a conference about the working of the Spirit. I had again turned toward God, toward Jesus. But the muddled mess of my thoughts–that’s the realm of the Spirit, to make truths known, to help me understand. For me to be failing there meant I wasn’t yet listening to the Spirit. It’s not a rare problem. I’ve never been in a church where the Spirit was taught with any intensity, so it makes sense that my relationship with the third person of the Trinity would be weak and a great field for battle.
When I heard about the conference, I was tempted, but I wasn’t sure I would attend. I’m not good in groups. I don’t like new things. I don’t often have access to a car. Lots of excuses. Then a man in my church stood and gave a testimony about attending a similar conference. Long story short is that he left feeling loved, feeling an undeniable love from the Spirit toward him. And as soon as he said it, the Spirit in me said Go. I’d listened when told to row the boat, and now I had another word. Go find the right currents. Take the thoughts back. Hear me and know I love you. Instead of letting every breeze sweep you away, it’s time for you to trust once and for all that I am here loving you.
I signed up. I didn’t know what to expect. There was talk of healing, of spiritual gifts manifesting in ways that were new to me. I’d forever walked in denominations that downplayed supernatural outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and now I was in a group that believed the Spirit could do things from the New Testament. I was afraid. Afraid of what I would experience. Afraid of what I wouldn’t. This was it. I knew I was telling myself lie after lie. I didn’t feel loved. I was rowing, reading, pleading, and yet I felt darker than I had before, and I needed to find the truth. Did God want me? Was I a daughter? The Bible seemed to say yes, but the doubts hounding me were making me crazy.
The evening of the first session, I spent a lot of time at the mirror. Since I rarely dress up, don’t wear makeup, have no skill with my hair, this was very strange. But I knew something was about to happen. My spirit was agitated and vibrating with anticipation. I’d put so much energy into doubting and being fearful that I couldn’t get back in any conventional way. It was going to take something more. And tonight, I knew that would happen. I was certain of it. So that night I primped like a teenager. Before I left the house, staring at the mirror, I had the strangest thought.
It was a date. I was heading out of the house for a date with the Holy Spirit. And I was nervous and scared and ready and hopeful. Tonight, I was going to meet with the Spirit in a new way. I had to. So I walked out the door in a grand step of faith, and I went to find answers to my questions and hope for my doubting soul. And that, of course, is the next story.