Two Things We Can Boast in: Weakness and the Cross

It’s been quite a week since last Thursday. I have had several sleepless nights, I have had a mental war. I have worried. I have fretted. My digestive system has suffered. Why you ask? Fear!

I am going to crack open my heart and soul with you. I struggle with worrying too much about what other people think. I also simply take myself too seriously much of the time. I struggle with anxiety. I worry I am going to appear a failure.

My story this last week began when me and my students performed at a retirement home last Thursday. I got up to perform and well I basically fell flat on my face. I lost where I was in the music, got distracted by my thoughts and was overwhelmed with anxiety. You would have thought in my mind that the world came to an end. I did not externalize my feelings. I acted as if nothing happened, but the inner war was tremendous and for a week straight I worried and fretted over that. I assumed people’s thoughts. I was not thinking rational, and I even told myself that, but I was still tortured by it.

In my Psalm study I have been reading through Psalm 64, the first couple of times I read it, it didn’t resonate with me in any particular way, and then I felt compelled to read it again last night, and it jumped off the page and into my heart! The Psalmist in the beginning says, “deliver me from my fear” He didn’t say deliver me from the situation. This is what I was pleading with God, deliver me from this dread! The Psalmist sounded just like me tortured in his mind. He continues on to say “hide me from the secret plots of the wicked.” Now for him it was external enemy, but for me, I resonated with wanting to be hidden. I wanted to go hide. I felt humiliated. Then the Psalmist says, “they hold fast to their evil purpose” I just thought about how our enemy, satan, can use this as an opportunity to try to overcome us, discourage us, condemn us, ensnare us. This is a perfect opportunity for him to get a foothold on us. In verse 7, the Psalmist says, BUT GOD! I just stopped here, because really we needn’t go any further. Everything that preceded this is not the final analysis. GOD is the one who has the final say. God is my deliverer. It says in verse 10, “let the righteous one rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in Him. Let all the upright in heart exult.”

I was humbled by this situation. God allowed my to fall. God knows my struggle with perfection and people pleasing, and the only way for me to overcome it is through the fire. How can I expect to be refined and to grow to be more like Him if I don’t go through some discomfort. It really has been a thorn in my flesh. I have to learn that it isn’t about me and there is noting like going through something like this, to humble me.

“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts the Lord is safe.” Proverbs 29:25

Being a Christian does not mean perfection, or no struggles, and I think of the verse “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” The word fear here is not anxiety but a reverence and respect for God’s authority, and trembling is admitting our weakness, and submitting to our dependence solely on God. This is an ongoing sanctification process to bring us into more of HIs likeness. To do this, God has to test and try our hearts. We have to be humbled, and this is not comfortable, but it must be done.

I have hanging in my hallway as a huge reminder from 2 Corinthians 12:9……..

“My grace is sufficient for you, for MY POWER is made perfect in weakness.”

We have nothing to boast in except our weakness and the cross. It is a truth that I am still learning every day. The layers of of my own self focus are being pulled back. God is gracious with me and he is gentle. I am being refined. I don’t want to remain the same. I want to be more like Him, but I have to be willing to go in the fire, be uncomfortable. I have to deny myself and take up my cross. I have to also remember this is a daily process. Every morning his mercies are new, and I have to come to the feet of Jesus to be renewed every day. Like the old hymn says…….

“Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up Lord. Come and quench this thirsting  of my soul. Bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more. Here’s my cup, fill it up and make me whole.”

A final thought — You might have heard that joke/story about the kid who was in church listening to the sermon. The minister prayed, “Dear Lord without you we are but dust.” When the child heard this she leaned over  to mom and said, “Mommy, what is butt dust?”  haha!

I  was sent this joke by my childhood piano teacher and friend before she passed away this past February. We laughed so much about that.  She texted about a month before she died, and the text read simply, “We are SO butt dust!” 😛

Don’t take myself so seriously. Depend on him. Boast in my weakness. Boast in the Cross. I have to beware that just when I think I am something, I will find out pretty soon that I am nothing.

He’s still working on me! He began a good work in me, and he is for sure going to see it though to completion!

God gets the glory!

Blessings,

Johanna

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I am a Rock with that Special Element of Mastery!

I always thought the study of rocks seemed kind of boring, I mean, rocks, really? Even Charlie Brown was bummed when he got a rock. Remember in “The Great Pumpkin,”  when the kids went trick or treating and all the kids were excited about receiving their treats, and poor Charlie Brown was shafted, He exclaimed,”I got a rock.” Well, after doing a mini geology study, I got a little more excited about rocks. Why do people even study rocks to begin with? What can a little rock tell us about anything? Turns out, quite a lot. Studying rocks, seems to be simultaneously teaching us about the past to prepare for the future. Really cool, right!? It got me thinking, about how sometimes we want to bury the past, run from it, ignore it, deny it. As painful as the past is sometimes, this is the wrong approach. We don’t know why some things happen, but we know that each part of our lives is preparing us for the future. When I see my life through this lens, it blows me away! There is purpose, there is meaning. So what are rocks? They are combinations of different minerals. There are many different rocks. No two rocks are the same. Each has different characteristics  that make them unique. There are three main types of rock though, Sedimentary, Igneous,  and Metamorphic. Geologists say that 75% of rocks around us are Sedimentary. They are the norm of the rocks. These rocks are soft in comparison to the others and can crumble and fall apart more easily. The igneous rocks form when hot magma cools, they become coarse, and grainy with pockets of air bubbles. When I was reading this I thought about us and our past. Some of us let our past make us soft and we crumble and fall apart, others let our past erupt in us and then when it cools, we are left hard, and coarse, with pockets of emptiness. So what about this last rock, Metamorphic? Metamorphic start out no different from the other two types, but when placed under extreme amounts of heat and pressure they don’t melt they go through a metamorphosis. They change! Are you getting excited?! I sure am. These rocks become denser and can have shiny crystals. Geologists say that metamorphic rocks hold a special element of mastery. Who is the master? I know who he is! Geologists even say they can continue to change with the right amount of heat and pressure. We are ever-changing becoming more like Christ. Every high heat, and high pressure event is changing us. Philippians 1:6 says “He who began a good work in you, will see it through to the day of completion, until the day of Jesus Christ.” The final metamorphosis.

This is reason to praise God in the midst of our trials. Are we going to be a rock that crumbles and falls or maybe becomes hard and coarse, or will we allow Jesus to refine us, to change us, to make us more like him?

These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold–though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:7

Walking through the fire is something that has to happen if we want to come out more than a mere rock that might crumble and fall apart.

“Coming to him as a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus.” 1 Peter 2:4

I GOT A ROCK! THE LIVING ROCK! THE ROCK OF AGES!  I am a rock with that special element of mastery, his name is JESUS!

“I have learned to kiss the wave that slams me into the Rock of Ages!” Charles Spurgeon