So, I had a challenge that broke me, having to do with my car which I desperately need (it still runs, but has me concerned that it may stop running). It was the proverbial straw.
I was sitting at the computer a few nights ago, reading forums and skype, when I felt the Lord telling me to come talk to him. I procrastinated until too close to bedtime to say much before I slept. But I did talk to him the next morning, extensively.
Last night, I got the same "feeling" and got off the computer much earlier.
(As a side note, recently (before the experience(s) I am currently relating), I prayed all night. I began around 10 or 11 p.m. At one point, said I had to sleep, but felt compelled to continue. When I noticed light coming through the blinds, I checked the time. It was just after 6 a.m. It was difficult to believe that much time had passed.)
The reason I procrastinated talking to him was because I didn't want to face what was tormenting me. I felt I would totally break with reality if I had to look at everything all at once, and I knew that's what I would be doing if I talked to him.
The car was and is only one of many issues that have been tormenting me. It's easier not to break when you pretend nothing is there.
I looked it all square in the face as I talked to him. I admitted that I did not know how to fix any of it. Like the proverbial child who doesn't know and knows that he doesn't know. That was me.
A few months ago, I dabbled with the idea of going back to college. Just for fun. Well, I began the process. Somewhere along the line I decided I ought to go for a bachelors degree (I already have an associates degree).
Also, somewhere along the line, I talked to God about it. He told me he wanted me to go. He didn't care what classes I took; he simply wanted me to go and take what I really wanted to take. I wasn't sure what to make of it.
Then I read some words on this post that went into my mind - as if it possibly applied to me. The author was quoting someone else.
I could not see how it could fit what the Lord had asked me (college). I went through the points with God to see what was really being said:Everyone faces the identical challenge. It seems different only because of our individual strengths and weaknesses. The challenge is adapted to our own personality, capacity and life's history. Therefore, when you are asked to overcome something, it will fit in the framework of your life.All are asked to make a sacrifice that shows they will not withhold anything from the Lord. It will come to each person based on what they value and would regret to their core surrendering. Whatever that is, you will be asked by the Lord to give it to Him. You must decide to do that when asked.All are asked to do something that they view as wrong, evil or inappropriate and will seem to be inconsistent with the Lord's mercy, righteousness and perfection. The request will unmistakably come from Him. You cannot evade the request because you doubt He is asking. You will clearly know it is Him who asks, and that to all your understanding it will be wrong to do. You must do it anyway.All are asked to take a step in faith beyond where they are at the time. Trust in Him, and only Him, as you take that step. You will be certain that if it were something you were undertaking on your own, it could not be accomplished. But because you are doing as He has asked, you know you will have the strength or support to do as He bids.
First: “The challenge is adapted to our own personality, capacity and life's history. Therefore, when you are asked to overcome something, it will fit in the framework of your life.”
Second: “You will not withhold anything from the Lord. It is something you will regret to your core surrendering.” I know of nothing that would fit this. I have lost so much in the last 20-30 years, that anything else I lose would probably freak me out or give me a nervous breakdown, but I cannot see how I could not stop it from happening.
Third: “Whatever that is, you will be asked by the Lord to give it to Him. You must decide to do that when asked.”
Fourth: “All are asked to do something that they view as wrong, evil or inappropriate and will seem to be inconsistent with the Lord's mercy, righteousness and perfection.”
Fifth: “The request will unmistakably come from Him. You cannot evade the request because you doubt He is asking.”
And, sixth: “All are asked to take a step in faith beyond where they are at the time. Trust in Him, and only Him, as you take that step. You will be certain that if it were something you were undertaking on your own, it could not be accomplished.”
1st: Well, it is certainly adapted to my personality, capacity, and life's history.
2nd, I've already commented on.
3rd: He did ask and I did say yes and am in the process of doing that.
4th: Here, I balked. "Lord, you know this is not evil or bad or wrong. It isn't against any scriptural law that I know of."
"Look at it closely," he said, "and tell me what you think of you doing this."
I looked at it, and I said, "Of course, it's wrong for me to go to college. Of course, it's a sin for me to pursue subjects that I have wanted to learn from my core since I was a child, because I'm not supposed to have what I want. I'm not supposed to do what I love. It's a sin - but for me, not for anyone else."
And as I kept attempting to explain, I saw that I was going in a frustrated circle. He was right. My core self believes it is the height of evil for me to do anything I would like, anything that would bring me joy and fulfillment. It's okay for others to pursue lives and careers that speak to their souls, but not for me.
We finally settled on agreeing to disagree because I was confusing myself.
5th: Even though it was quiet, even though it was simple, I was absolutely sure I was talking to the Lord.
6th: Absolutely, I could not accomplish this on my own. Not only financially (tuition, fees, books, rent and other bills, and so on), but the thing, itself. As I faced the thing square on, I saw insecurities about failing.
I finally saw that what I was supposed to do is simply give it my best, as I enjoyed it. Enjoy the journey. ("Who is this, really? God is supposed to make us do all sorts of painful sacrifices. He's supposed to make us miserable, even unto death, because that's what this life is for: suffering and sacrifice and pain.")
Knowing who the Lord Really Is
So, I was talking to him about this. Talking about the sacrifices, the ones that hurt, the ones that Brother Snuffer and others talk about.
He said to me, "I'm not going to do that to you yet. First, you have to know me enough to trust me. After you know me, then I can ask you to do other things. For now, we are working on you knowing who I really am and trusting me."
The understanding that accompanied that was seeing that I did not know his personality. I did not know him as a friend or a father. This needed to come first. And, as I recall, this message that I needed to learn to trust him, needed to learn to see and feel and believe his love for me came after the thing I wrote below.
That's the end of the post. However, below, I'm going to relate our conversation about point 4 in more detail for those who may be interested (I wrote it down soon afterward and this is a quote from what I wrote). Feel absolutely free to ignore it. [Brackets are my current insertions.]
The bit about God wanting you to do something "wrong" - well, I can't believe it but every time I don't, I'm immediately faced with my own deep conviction that - for me - it is wrong, it is a huge sin.
And I wondered why God would choose such a strange sacrifice for me. And I thought maybe God was using it to cause me to further trust him for food and such. And to trust him in general. And it was brought to my mind the time I did testing at workforce (in St. George - when my kids were ages 5/6, 8 & 10). the lady who told me my test results apologized that the IQ test only went to 126. I had surpassed that. They couldn't measure what it really was (one I'd taken a few years earlier averaged me at 144 - with the "logic" aspect being something like 168). [Note: I could have inflated that. It could have been 142 and 162 or 164.] She had noticed that I had finished the sections before others in the room (which would add points). She told me I could be anything, even a medical doctor. That experience is what came to my mind as I doubted my ability to take the languages. And I wondered why God would encourage me in such a secular thing. [The classes I signed up for are Chinese, French, and Spanish, as far as languages go.]
Isn't my job here to suffer, be miserable, never get what I really want? That's about the time the thought of "In contraries is truth made manifest" [came].
I mean, if I['m] going to go through the crap and emerge on the other side safe and whole, then there's got to be the possibility that the other side exists, right?
And, it's such a personal journey.
But I find myself suspicious. "Are you sure this is God? The devil is the one who tells us to do things we like," etc - etc.
So, you believe the devil gives you good things and I give you bad? was the gist of the reply.
And I have to admit that the answer is yes. I have learned exactly that. God gives homelessness, fear, hunger, poverty, pain, persecution, blocks any chance of having a creative outlet or doing what one loves.
It is the devil who says you should follow your dreams and desires, pursue your interests, who offers to you to never go hungry and so forth. (Not that he always delivers.)
Isn't that backwards, the "voice" [in my mind -not actually audible words] asks gently. Why would God/I give you talents and abilities only to have you sacrifice them?
Because you're a God who requires sacrifice of everything we like, of everything that makes us comfortable (food, clothing, house, safety, etc.).
True, but haven't you been doing that all along? Haven't you been suffering your whole life? Don't you think it's finally time you rested from that and learned what your soul craves (French, for example), and finally opened up to letting me provide abundantly for you - so much so that you can help others?
Me: This is really the devil I'm talking to, isn't it? Only the devil would pretend to offer me food ... [etc.].
So, you think that if you ask me bread, I'll give you a stone?
No, I think that when I have asked you for bread in the past, you have given me poison. When I've asked for a fish, you've given me worse than a fiery, poisonous serpent.
It isn't what I'd want to say to a God, but I must be honest in my perception of you.
Then why follow me? Why seek me out?
Because it's in my soul to do so. It is in my nature to [pause] - oh.
(Smiles) [Meaning he smiled]
In my soul to seek you. In my soul to learn languages. In my soul to heal. In my soul to live with the earth, in nature, in "my" home.
I'm confused now.
You were always confused, my dear. How about you do an experiment? (I love experiments - behavioral ones, especially ...)
Just for this school year, you trust me. Maybe for two school years and one summer. You do what I say, which is to do this great "sin" of going after your dream of being a linguist - Let go and go for it.
Just for these next two years, assume (the real meaning, not the ass meaning) that I'm there for you, that I will provide for you and protect you. Sins, all, in your estimation. Do that for me, okay? (okay?)
That's a strange sacrifice you're asking of me.
It's a strange set of beliefs you carry.
Me, again: Okay. It makes no sense to me why you should ask me to do this "sin" which is only a sin to/for me. This whole thing is weird - But, okay, for you I'll do it.
[Turning attention heavenward] And, dear God, the Real God of heaven and earth, if I've been talking to the devil this whole time, please step in. I don't want to be happy if you want me miserable. I don't want to be well-nourished and in a home/land that nourishe[s] both body and soul if you want me to be hungry, under-nourished, and either homeless or living away from nature.
. . .
So there you have it. I'm breaking out of a cycle - A cycle of misery and woe and hunger and homelessness and attracting predators and not learning/doing what is in my soul to do.
My "sacrifice" is to let God pull me out of hell and protect me and let me (make the way for me to) do what is in my soul to do.
What will happen? I'm sure I do not know. If the past indicates the future, I'll give up. I'll pull out. I'll continue the cycle of lack and misery.
The reason I post this personal stuff is because there may be another "loser" out there whose life seems to have given them the same message. Perhaps God wants to pull you out of misery if you could only learn to trust him.
If there is someone like that who reads this, I hope for your sake that I succeed - so that you can see that you, also, can succeed.