Wednesday, November 19, 2008

God the Gardener

Yesterday afternoon a dull headache quickly blossomed into a full-fledged migraine. I took some medicine and somehow managed to go into work and do hair. (Don't worry, the clients all left happy). Usually these migraines don't last overnight, but oh my this one did and this morning I woke up with the worst migraine I have EVER experienced! Thankfully, Joe fed, dressed, packed lunches and got the kids to school and daycare. I had to call off work, since I was literally flat on my back. There I lay, nauseated beyond belief with the feeling of a large mallet pounding onto my temple. The medicine did not work, because it did not stay down. Laying there, a feeling of complete helplessness and guilt consumed me. I know that the migraine was triggered by my own stress and anxiety. That's what I like to name it. "My own stress", "My own anxiety". As I called out to the Lord in my dire need, (down in a pit of miry clay that I thought I had already been pulled up out of), I realized that I do not have control over this. It wasn't my fault that I got nervous and anxious and flipped out yesterday. The more I try to take hold of it, the worst it gets. You might be wondering, "What is so horrible about her life?" "Why in the world would she be stressed out?" I can't even answer these types of questions. I don't know why! Maybe it's an attack, or maybe it's a thorn in my side that I will have to live with for the rest of my life.

What I can tell you is that God uses circumstances to prune me. We were just discussing this in my Ladies Bible study. We are doing a "A Woman's Heart; God's Dwelling Place," by Beth Moore. In one of the lessons this past week she talks about how "God is our Gardener and He has two major gardening tools for increasing our crop and for conforming us to His Son's image: His Word and circumstances." She goes on to talk about how "...when God uses His Word as our pruning instrument, it is a lot less painful because it is sharp and quick. But circumstances can be a different story. (She) I also believe(s) that God favors pruning us through His Word rather than through circumstances. (She) I do(es) not think that God wants to see us in pain any more than we want to experience it. He knows, however, that sometimes there is no other way....Without a doubt we will be pruned one way or the other." She refers to

Philippians 1:6
...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

...and then reminds me of how I need to be a "doer of the word and not (a) hearer only" (James 1:22)

Well, I have to tell you that I let all of the ladies in my small group know how I didn't know if I agreed with what she was saying, about how God's word prunes us easier. In my life, it seems like my circumstances tend to prune me. Mostly unpleasant circumstances that I experience, when I feel so alone and down that I have nowhere to look but up and how I haven't noticed God's word pruning me as much. As I look closer at the verse in James, I understand more of what she is saying. I need to not only look at the word, I need to do what it says. Live it out.

I guess it is just another step in this thing called sanctification. Daily obedience. Daily remembering the fruits of this spirit living inside of me. Daily stripping of my selfish flesh and clothing myself in Christ Jesus, the most unselfish person who ever lived.

So, today my circumstances definitely pruned me into remembering how human and frail and lowly I am. Today, I felt my God reach down and comfort me and reassure me that I have no control over my physical state and I am so thankful for that. But He also revealed to me that I need to stop making excuses and start allowing not only my circumstances, but also His word, His sharp word, to cut back my dead branches and make room for more of His fruit to grow.

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control...

1 comment:

DebSoulSister said...

Well said Emily,
As a member of your Beth Moore small group, I do remember what you said about the word vs. circumstances pruning us. I think what Beth meant is that it would be better for us if we read the word and allowed it to convict us and bring us back into right relationship with God. Unfortunately, most of us (including myself) often overlook that route and end up getting pruned by circumstances. As Hebrews 4:12 says, 'The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any doubled-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.' I feel convicted, after reading your blog, that I often do not give the word of God the chance to do that in me. Maybe if I spent more time in prayer and reading the Word, God would be able to use His word in my life rather than circumstances. Hmmm. Also, I think we need to learn to distinguish between the conviction of the Lord which leads to hope and restoration and the condemnation of the evil one who brings a feeling of hopelessness and self-loathing. At any rate, you are beautiful to me (and to God) both inside and out. Sometimes I think we can be harder on ourselves than God is. Love, Deb