Lord, Make Me Willing to Wonder

If I only wrote of what God is teaching me, how exciting it is, how I am growing, all of His goodness and the excitement of living Real Life in Jesus—the life I shadowed for so many years—you might get the image that all of my lessons come wrapped in exquisite silence. You might picture me sitting on the back porch with my Bible, journal and pen furiously writing down what I hear Father whispering to me through His Word. And all of that would be true.

I am blessed in this season to have unprecedented time to soak up God’s Word. And I’m so grateful for it. I do learn a lot in those quiet hours. But, some of the hardest hitting lessons are just that—hard hitting. They hit my ego, my sanity, my peace of mind, my confidence. Just such a lesson has been pummeling me against the stones of residual unbelief. In the wake of this storm, it feels like my mind has been thrashing with no upward or outward orientation.

Perhaps you can identify: It’s all in the numbers.

No, I haven’t been obsessing over the scale, calories in or calories out as you might suspect of a former anorexic. I haven’t been contemplating hours of exercise or the number of peanuts in a one ounce serving. It’s been another numerical conundrum—the fear of money. (I actually discovered a term for it: peniaphobia. Look it up!)

Here’s how it manifests in me: This week I have bought and returned and bought again an outfit (and almost returned it again). Another item I bought and returned and various others I have fretted over and worried through the halls of my mind like a stone between restless fingers. I have also panicked over credit card fraud, which resulted in closing two accounts and requesting new numbers. (One turned out to be real, the other I was in error.)

I have lost sleep over whether I should or should not buy something for the house. I have been consumed with whether my budget is correct or if I missed recording an expense. I have hounded my husband for not telling me he bought a Kindle book for $1.99.

Maybe you don’t have this problem. However, in the last week I have spoken to two other married women who alluded to wrestling with these unwanted fears too.

So, whether you fret about money or not, let me ask if this resonates with you: I live in a constant state of “what if”, living as if all the “what if’s” could happen and I must take preventative measures.

I’ll share some other specifics with you; try them on for size:
What if the government shuts down again and the military doesn’t get paid?
What if my husband is one of the hundreds forced out of the Army?
What if I need to work and can’t find a job?
What if we lose the renters in our house who are covering the mortgage?

These thoughts were very common when I dealt with anorexia:
What if I get fat?
What if I eat too much today and can’t workout tomorrow?
What if my family gives up on me?
What if there are more calories in that than what I counted?
What if they actually put dressing on my salad?

So, my self-protective, chicken-heart believes that it’s best to live as if these things might happen, live hyper-vigilant. More painfully true—it’s best to live as if God isn’t good just incase He withdraws His blessing that has been so generous to me for more than 34 years.

My eating disorder was one giant, frightened step back from a looming “What if?” It was my shattered response to a terrifying unknown. It manifested in rejecting love—What if they stop loving me? Extreme anxiety in school and other challenges—What if I fail? Fear of enjoying anything—What if I get used to this and it’s not here tomorrow?

Terror of the unknown cropped up in my marriage and almost short circuited forgiveness. After discovering my husband’s addiction to pornography, even after he addressed it, we worked on our marriage and I had no evidence that it remained, still I held him at arm’s distance, skeptical and suspicious—What if it comes back?

Paralyzing, invasive fear is the side effect of living in a perpetual, hypothetical state of “What if?”.

As I discovered this tendency to live in prevention mode against all possibilities, I realized that I rebel against wonder.

The same thing that I admire in carefree children and happy-go-lucky puppies, I fight against tooth and nail as an adult. I do not want to experience wonder. I do not want to embrace “maybe” or, “what if”, or “perhaps not”.

Then God got really personal. I heard Him whisper, “If you rebel against the unknown, you can never know me.”

Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

To pursue the heart of God is to step willingly into wonder, amazement and, invariably, into the unknown. To trust Him is to acknowledge and embrace what I cannot fully know.

Oh My Father, I want to wonder. I want to know wonder and amazement and awe and true, Biblical fear—fear of you and you alone. Please, gently release these shackles of safety. Teach me to trust you and to walk in wonder. Teach me to ask “what if” with anticipation, joy and peace.

Insecurity, a GOOD/GOD thing?

One of the biggest obstacles of my growing faith, is an idolatrous worship of exercise. Praise the Lord, that the Holy Spirit consistently, frequently and aggressively, convicts me of this tendency and turns my heart toward Him once again. One of the tools He has used to do this is a book called Pray Fit.  I was in Kansas, and a girl-friend and I had miss-communitcated about what time we planned to get together over coffee. Being car-less and on the opposite side of town from my parents’ house, I meandered across the street to the local Christian Bookstore. 

Bored, cold and feeling sorry for myself, (not to mention feeling cheap since it was just after the Christmas spending season) I found myself in the clearance isle. I gravitate toward all things “fitness,” “skinny,” and “health.” It’s not usually a good thing, but in this case, God worked my sinful bent for His glory. I picked up Jimmy Pena’s book, “Pray Fit,” from the bottom shelf.

I was instantly captured by his thorough and aggressive devotionals. There was no pansy-footing around the God-talk in favor of diet tips and weight loss jargon. Pena is unashamedly about Jesus.  Not to let the diet-starved reader down, at the end of each chapter, Pena includes a progressive, bodyweight workout. I had to have the book. I know that health and exercise is a good thing, but in our culture, frequently perverted into the only thing. I have been searching long for the way to balance my love for fitness with the truth that Jesus is my life.

I have been reading the book slowly, digesting each devo and trying some of the workouts. I joined Pena’s website, Prayfit.com. That is what finally, leads me to my point today (:

A recent entry on Prayfit.com, asks “which Bible character do you identify with?” Since this week we are focusing on Moses, I began to think about him. Do you identify with Moses in any way? Most of this week, we are focusing on Moses’s strengths; the contrast between his growth in holiness and the disobedient Israelites. But Pena points out Moses’s insecurity. I hadn’t thought of that.

I am an insecure person. Most of my life, I have promised God that I would offer myself fully to Him as soon as I got my life straightened out.

As soon as I get over this eating disorder thing, God. Then, I won’t be such an embarrassment to you. Then I can share my testimony and you’ll be proud of me.

As soon as my marriage is a better reflection of Christ and the church, then God, I’ll tell others about the miracles you have worked in our lives.

As soon as I resolve the conflict with my sister, then I’ll tell everyone about your overriding peace.

As soon as I get over this sadness, this loneliness, then I’ll take the mask off and admit my past to others so that they can see and be astonished at the change in me.

Does that sound familiar? As I wrote on Monday, I don’t think Moses held anything back as he scribbled down his complaints, joys, daily duties and God-moments. Obviously, it can’t be denied that God has used all Moses’s miserable, insecure moments just as effectively as all of his successes. Consider.