Monday, January 12, 2015
assaulted and delivered
Be alert and of sober mind.
Your enemy the devil prowls around
like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8
From my notebook…
I knew he’d be coming, Lord – I knew the enemy would be gunning for me. I knew I needed to prepare myself because I’d started to make an impact for You.
I knew he’d come at me, but I didn’t expect it would feel like this. I should have known he would come after my heart and mind – my most vulnerable places. That he’d isolate me as much as possible & then go to work.
And once I realized his well laid plans were unfolding before me, I felt the depression tugging again at my soul, calling me downward – urging me to come back to the old familiar of the Pit.
But I will not go! I will run to You, Lord God, with all that I am despite all that I’m “feeling” because I know he is working on every emotion I have – and he will not stop. And as much as it is my natural inclination to turn to another human for comforting, to talk through this hurt, I know my only Real Refuge, my Safe Haven, is You.
Let us go now to the computer and write – let us take all the pain within and choose intently to draw nearer to God. It is not the natural instinct, but it is the soul solace I so desperately need.
All weekend I’d felt run down. Saturday I was supposed to go visit my dad and sing, practicing with him to play for some folks at a nursing home today. When I got up, I was so desperately tired, I sat with my head in my hands and felt my soul collapsing within me. I wasn’t certain how I could muster the strength just to get dressed, much less to make the drive out to visit and then sing and carry on. I got up and asked, “What would YOU have me do, Lord?”
To which You responded ever so kindly, “I’m glad you asked. You didn’t ask me before you made plans with your dad, and now that you’re here before me I would have you stay put today and recover. You’ve been going and going and going, and you need to rest. Stay home today and REST, Michelle.”
Oh, I was so overjoyed to hear that!
Permission from GOD to rest.
It is not the first time You’ve given me a permission slip, and I’m sure it won’t be the last… I think we all need that from time to time, to be reminded we’re not meant to go full steam all the time. And You were absolutely right (Of course, You are GOD after all)… As is not entirely unheard of in the course of Michelle-ness, once I had begun writing this blog, I pushed forward, at some point not being entirely sustained by YOU and Your power, but relying on my own means to keep up the pace. And very quickly I was met with sheer exhaustion – rightly so because this project You’ve brought me to is not meant to be carried out of my own strength (as no work You call us to do on Your behalf ever is).
When You showed me all this in prayer Saturday morning, You reminded me how easily I could tell others that we are not meant to go about our lives on our own power, but to lean wholly on YOU – yet here I was missing the very lesson I was sharing so readily.
Praise You that when You correct and restore me,
You always do so in kindness and love and mercy.
Still though, I do bear the consequences of my poor judgment… Because of my pressing forward and the sheer exhaustion that had ensued, I realized I was coming down with another virus or bug. There’s an awful lot of that going around Richmond right now. ‘Tis the season, I suppose. Again on Sunday, I felt the need to rest – and having just been told by God to do so, I honored that. I felt some guilt over not having published two days in a row, but You reminded me kindly that You never said that I was meant to post daily – that notion was entirely my own creation. You also reminded me You would continue to guide and instruct me through the course of this project, assuring me that those who need to be fed will be taken care of – it’s not all on me. How prideful for me to have even remotely considered that it ever would have been… It was not an intentional assumption by any means, but it was still there.
So there are two days during which
I’d had pretty minimal social interaction –
the process of isolation had begun
though I had yet to recognize the importance of it.
Last night, I lay in bed so exhausted from this sickness but feeling quite alone. I wanted very much to call a friend that I felt I was missing in the moment but was much too tired to carry on a conversation – it was incredibly frustrating. I gathered my blankets and rolled over, staring at the ceiling, and prayed openly to You. Be my everything – be my ALL – my Comfort, my Friend, my LOVE, my Companion, my Healer, my Deliverer, my Provider. I asked that You would be more and more to me in my lonesomeness, so that I would know You and experience You on every level. I asked You to fill all my empty spots and make the most of the quiet hour where it was just us. I thanked You for making me lonely so that I could seek Your face to be drawn closer to You.
This morning as I lay awake in bed at some ridiculously dark hour, again I felt so alone – I wanted so much to text or call someone, but I knew at 4 a.m. it was highly likely any such communication might not be met with a warm welcome. I was tempted to be frustrated in the insomnia, but the Spirit enlightened me to choose to seek You instead. I sang quietly, “In the secret, in the quiet place – in the stillness You are there. In the secret, in the quiet hour I wait only for You – I want to know You more.” I thanked You for helping me to realize that I could use such times to commune with You rather than lamenting the poor state of affairs that everyone else was probably still off in dreamland. And it was a beautiful moment… I remember we had a very good conversation; I had been quite surprised I was able to carry a good conversation at such an hour.
Then later this morning when I got up, I felt the urge to reach out to everyone (again the effects of the isolation) and connect… to talk. I called my mom at work but she was far too busy to chit chat. [The well laid plans were beginning to homogenize even though I was still woefully unaware.] I got word from a good friend that our team had lost the football game yesterday. I haven’t watched in a couple years, but I knew well enough to know that my team had done pretty well this year and yesterday’s game was against another friend’s team – so I reached out and offered my humble congratulations.
We exchanged a couple texts, and I casually asked if he’d ever gotten my emails. I had sent two of great importance to me over the past two months & had never heard anything back. Well, it turns out they never made it to his inbox. I was devastated. To put this in context, one of the emails was following up on a very emotional conversation we’d had on the phone back in November. When I realized that my very heartfelt, intensely meaningful email sent the next day had never been delivered, I was at first relieved because it explained why I’d never heard anything back. But almost instantaneously following that sense of relief, I became entirely crestfallen… I resent the message, along with a text to just let me know if for some reason it didn’t go through this time. That he need not respond to either of my emails, but I just wanted to be sure he got them both.
And then I just sat there… The sadness of that realization just eating away at what had already been a building unrest within me from being isolated the past several days. And the devil – he is sooooooo good at capitalizing on these small things. On taking ordinary circumstances and stitching them together in a manner such that they have a much greater impact on the psyche than they ever would in and of themselves… Oh, and he went to work. I sat eating my lunch and felt the tugging, the pulling at my mind and my heart. Oh, it was awful!!!!!
I have been so well and good for a while now that I had forgotten what it felt like, the beginnings of depressive episodes. And I PRAISE YOU, PRAISE YOU that You have taught me so much about active thinking – processing my thoughts as they come – and that You have shown me that I have the ability to CHOOSE to redirect my mind. It is not easy; it does not come naturally… but by Your Power at work within me through the Holy Spirit, I am capable of changing the course, of recognizing the pull on my soul and deciding right then and there to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!!!! And thus, I began writing, praying.
This is actually a most glorious occasion because what the enemy intended for my bad has really shown me how much You have delivered me from this awful emotional trap that used to completely control me. I used to have no means or strength or know-how to fight it – I would always succumb completely. I would be lost entirely in the abyss. Yet, here I am more than a conqueror because You have brought me into this Marvelous Light and shown me how to live better by walking with YOU.
And now, having experienced it, having felt it again fresh in my mind, I can all the better encourage those who are going through it, those in the midst right now who have yet to learn the tools, the skill set to overcome these battles. Praise You that what the enemy meant for my harm, You have turned around for the good of not just myself, but anyone else with whom I might be able to share this message.
Thank You that whenever we turn to You,
when we go beyond how we feel and choose to seek YOU,
You have the Power to take all the harm,
all the hurt that the enemy throws at us,
and use it for good.
Help us to trust You even when it seems totally beyond
our own human understanding or ability to reason how,
that we can be assured You will be true to Your Promise
to use ALL things together for the good of those
who love You and who are called according to Your purposes.
Remind us when we forget...
I want to encourage you if you're in the darkness
to choose to redirect your mind toward heaven.
The enemy would love nothing more than
to drag you down as deeply into the pit as you will follow...
But if you will ask, and keep asking,
God can show you how to seek Him in the midst
and He can deliver you also
from even the darkest of depths.
If this is something that's hard for you to receive
in this moment, I hope you'll pray about it and listen to
making room in your heart for God
to grow your faith and trust in Him.
Until next time...
Be Blessed!! <3
© K. Michelle Payne 2015