Monday, March 31, 2014

A One on One Relationship with God

I've been thinking a lot on Christianity. Not American Christianity, but true like-Christ living. I'm amazed at the line I see being drawn in the sand between those who call themselves Christians, and those who really serve the Lord with all their hearts. 

What sets the true Christians apart? A lot of things: holy living, truth seeking, humility and thankfulness, love for the brethren, love for the lost, etc... But the attribute that has stood out to me lately is the deep, unfaltering relationship between a disciple of Christ and Jesus. 

There's no dependency on man in these relationships. There's no fear of man. There is simply a heart that follows God in both the least and greatest matters of life. Although these people have a beautiful understanding of spiritual authority, and are connected faithfully with a church body, they are also individuals called to be history shakers. 

You see the obvious difference in their willingness to serve everywhere they go, their hands set to ministry within and without the church doors. They don't turn off their Christianity when they leave the fellowship on Sunday morning... Instead, they broadcast their love for the Savior in everything they say and do.

The most mind boggling of all my observances has been the way the true Christians are persecuted by, none other than, those who call themselves Christians. You see, Jesus said we would face persecution... who would have thought that, here in America, it would come straight from those who label themselves with His name, but refuse the life change.

You are radical, you are extremist, you are intolerant, you are judgmental..., and you are beloved of the Father. So never allow hypocrites to define who you are in Christ. Continue to stand for righteousness, and one day our God will say to you, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Suffering and the Body of Christ

It has been almost four years since I've written here. I was actually pretty surprised it still existed and I was able to sign in, haha. I'm glad. I've come to a place in my life where I feel like I need a safe "out". Somewhere I can put into words the incredible things God has been doing in my heart.

Over the past couple years, the Lord has been drawing me nearer and nearer to His heart. I have been amazed by the layers upon layers of deception He has peeled away from my eyes. Mostly regarding the church - its job, what's actually Biblical and what's cultural, how its members should grow together and how their individual callings intertwine with the church's vision as a whole. I realize this is a personal revelation, and I have slowly applied as much as I can to my life. It is changing the very essence of who I am in Him.

I'm a believer that every single part of our lives happens for a reason. Down to the very last detail. I know God's hand is in all that we experience, and He makes it all work together for our good. In the middle of God revealing these wonderful mysteries to my heart, something highly unexpected happened. Though we hadn't in the least bit planned it, God decided it was time for us to get pregnant with baby number three.

A strange thing happens to me when I get pregnant - I deal with a complication called "Hyperemesis Gravidarum". It is an extreme version of morning sickness. I stay sick 24/7. Without medication, I puke so much I get dehydrated and in need of IV fluids. On medication, the vomiting is quelled, but the nausea is incessant. Because of the nausea, food aversion is still a problem. You eat because you have to, rarely because you want to. Sadly, no one truly understands this and how it effects every facet of your life. Oh, they say they do. Everyone you talk to "had that" or "knows someone who had that". Ask them if they were actually diagnosed with it - rarely. That's because only about two percent of pregnant women actually deal with real HG. Truthfully, not only do they not understand, but they literally can't comprehend it on an accurate scale.

For most HG sufferers, it gets worse with each pregnancy. For me, this has proven true. With my first pregnancy, the medication Zofran was enough to keep me gaining weight and having a healthy pregnancy. My second required combining Zofran during the day and Phenergan at night. Now, five months into my third, and I'm on yet another medication called Diclegis mixed with the Zofran day and night. And still, I stay so sick and tired that most days I stay in bed and do nothing anyway. Because, though Zofran and Diclegis keep me from puking all the time, the Diclegis ingredients include a sleeping pill that actually puts part of your brain to sleep. I just want to sleep. All the time. But it keeps me out of the hospital.

So what does this have to do with the church revelations and God pulling me close to His heart? Everything. You see, when you suffer - God is right there. He has been my strength, my desire, my breath of life. I have realized how emotionally/physically/spiritually dependent I have been on people. That has all been ripped away. And I have been left emotionally raw, physically spent, and in spiritual despair.

Sure, every Christian person I've talked with about this sickness has told me they would "pray for me". Now, I'm not knocking prayer in the LEAST. I am so incredibly grateful for the true intercessors out there who have beat on the doors of heaven for me. I attribute God's breaking my heart, and the heart change I'll talk about shortly, to the prayers of the righteous saints. However, most of these people do not go home and actually pray. If they do, it's a half-thought-half-breathed whisper as they click the lamp light off just before falling asleep.

It is with this knowledge that I had begun to despair so much. Where are those who serve among the brethren? Where is my family? While my husband works two jobs to try and ease the financial strain of bringing a new little one into the world, my four year old and two year old do what kids their age do best - they explore and play in such a way that leaves a tornado through my house on a daily basis. How many times have my friends and family come by my house for one reason or another and seen how the dishes are stacked in the sink because the soap smell makes me vomit, the toys are strewn from one end of the house to the other, the counters need wiping and the floors need mopping, but I'm in pajamas looking like death warmed over when I answer the door? I have been committed to church - three times a week! I have tithed. Why, in my time of need, has not a single Christian soul come to help me? Did we not learn about how we are a body? And when one part of the body suffers, we should suffer with that person (1 Corinthians 12:26)?? I know I'm not the only one. I know others have suffered before me and suffer even now with debilitating illness.

Everyone is just so busy. So caught up in the affairs of this world. To compound my very mixed emotions, my lost mother-in-law - that I have not had a very good relationship with for most of my married life - suddenly came and cleaned my house one day. And then again. And again. Until she moved away... what an incredibly humbling experience. Even still, she calls to check on me. Only to check on me.

That's when I realized that someone has to do something to stop this sad reproach against the church. Someone has to change this cycle of busyness - this lack of serving that is eating away at the souls of Christians. This mind boggling blindness to need and hardening of hearts to the hurting in our midst. Someone has to visit the sick and be there for those who cannot care for themselves. My heart had been pondering for months, even  years, about how I can fully devote myself to the will of God and radically go against the American church culture... and suddenly, I knew what I had to do. I have promised to God that this someone will be me. When He delivers me from this sickness, whether it be tomorrow or after the birth of this child, I will visit the sick in Jesus' name and care for those who are in need (Matthew 25:36).
I will fold clothes, wash dishes, sweep and mop and clean toilets. I will watch kids so that parents can have a break, and I will serve among the brethren (Galatians 5:13). I will not fear disease, and I will raise my children to love others with a selfless heart - to search out what can be done for them. I will lay hands on the lepers (Mark 1:41, Matthew 16:18) and wash the feet of the cancerous.

I know now why God allowed me to sink to the depths I'd gone to. Why He allowed me to feel so utterly alone and helpless. It was to start a fire in my heart that could not be quenched. A raging flame that longs to bring Him glory and end the selfishness that is devouring the church.