Monday, October 20, 2008

Depths of Despair

I have been silent for quite some time and there is a reason for that.

Last week I sort of lapsed into some deep anxiety. There wasn't any real specific event that caused my panic but last week was a dark week for me.

I think that following God onto a dangerous path has its highs and lows. There are times of pure adrenaline when you are completely sold out for God's plan and purpose and you just can't wait to dive in head first. But there are other times when the enemy's voice is loud and clear. And compelling accusations ring clearly in your ear. 'You are not strong enough to take on something like this. Your sin is too great. Your weaknesses will overcome you under pressure like that. The money won't be there. Your life was easier and much better if you had just left it the way it was. What were you thinking?'

So now you see where my anxiety had shipwrecked me. I was beginning to have serious doubts about what we believe God has placed in our laps. I was truly overcome by it and could not pull myself out of it. But praise be to God who did not leave me in that sad and ugly place!

At the last minute, I called our church to see if there was any space left to attend our women's retreat. Historically, I have really despised retreats. I'll just be honest, from 6th grade on when I frantically searched for a pay phone at High Trails Camp to plead with my parents to come and get me, to this day, I have not enjoyed being locked away with a large group of people in a rustic mountain outfit. But this past weekend in the mountains with the ladies of my church was God's answer to my prayer of, 'Help my unbelief!'

The topic of our retreat was the tongue. I initially thought, Oh, that will be a nice little talk to convict me about the occasional times that I gossip about someone. I had no idea what was about to hit me. About 30 minutes into the first session, I realized I had a serious problem with my tongue. As she continued, God brought so many things to mind about the way I talk to my children when they've pushed my buttons, the way I address my husband -- especially when he won't bend to my will -- and the way I casually malign others or divulge their confidences without even thinking about it later. She explained that we are to speak life into the people around us by speaking blessing but so often we speak death by using words that curse.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My [sisters], this should not be. James 3:9,10
So you might question, how did all this help dig you out of that pit you were in? It would seem that the realization of all that sin in my life would just make me feel worse. But the funny thing about sin and the Holy Spirit is that recognizing and finally seeing deep sins in your life is the first real and productive step toward having victory over them. There is hope! After coming home Sunday and weeping with my children and husband, confessing many of the ways I bring them down and essentially curse them with my words, I felt this enormous weight removed from my heart. I could sense God saying, 'See, I have washed you white as snow. You CAN change. You CAN be the person you are trying/hoping to be for these new children I'm bringing you. I was not going to leave you lost in your sin.'

And that's how God works sometimes. God was using my anxiety to set me up for this weekend, to hear a message that I needed to hear. We have to land in the depths of despair (quoting Ann with an 'E') before we have eyes that are wounded yet vulnerable, willing to peer into the darkness of our own hearts and see what God would like us to see. It is then, and only then, that He will take us to new heights of obedience. And the peace and joy that follows that obedience was enough to restore me and help me to say, "I can do all things through Christ who [has now and WILL!] strengthen me!"

The picture here of Mt. Princeton was taken from our window at the retreat by my friend and roommate, Andrea. Thanks, Andrea : )


The Andersons said...

Thanks for sharing Beth. You can so do this! How great is it that when you are at your weakest, God is at His strongest!

The Andersons said...

oh, and just think how Anne felt when she was at the opposite of the depths of despair :)