Monday, March 16, 2009

"Self talk, Soul talk," Chap. 11; Praise the Lord...

On Sunday at church, though things were better, I was still reeling from my experiences on Friday.

There was nothing I could do.
I was still stumbling in darkness.

I went to church.

The kids were sick, so they stayed home with Dave.

Our associate pastor, Brad, came up to me and asked me how I was doing. He is one of those people who, especially since he has seen me through some of these past few years, won’t take “I’m fine,” for an answer. So, I managed to express that it was really tough, and that I really felt like I was floundering… and had been hit big time with depression over the weekend.

He gave me a quick squeeze and a warm smile, and then moved on rapidly, as the service was about to start. As I sat in the service, I felt like I was sitting alone, apart and separated from those around me. Until the worship started. When the music started, I could feel my heart start to quicken.

The first couple of songs were just a good “warm up” for me, and started to let in a little light. Then Brad prayed, asking God to lighten the hearts of those of us who were feeling heavily burdened, and praising God that darkness was as light to Him.

My heart shook and trembled at that.

Then later in the service a new song was introduced. Over and over the words reminded me. Reminded me of who God is.

• my Shield
• my Strength
• my Portion
• my Deliverer
• my Shelter
• my Strong Tower
• my very present Help in time of need

Then my heart really started taking notice.

Later in the day I came back to the church for a prayer meeting. As we prayed for our leadership, for our church, and for anything else on our hearts;

God spoke.
In the quiet.

I wasn’t able to pray out loud then.
That came later.

But I had this impression that God really wanted me to surrender. Everything. Let Him have the burden I was carrying. And to confess. I wasn’t sure what, but I knew He was calling to me, and asking me to do it soon.

As soon as the prayer meeting was over, Pastor Brad leaned over and said that as he was walking from his home to church for the meeting, he was praying for me… and then was blown away when he saw me drive right by him. I thanked him for his prayers on my behalf, and asked God in my head, “What are You doing?”

People scattered from the room, and through the church to other meetings, or heading home for the rest of the day.

Instead of going outside and to a park to enjoy the beautiful weather before my choir practice, I hung around talking to a friend until the lobby had cleared, then slipped into the sanctuary before someone saw me.

I walked to the front, and sat down on the floor,

near the piano,
near the altar,
near the cross.

It was cool and quiet.

I turned to Psalm 139, and read some of it. The parts of never being able to flee from Him, escape His presence… and that even if I wanted darkness to hide me, the darkness was as light to Him.

It took on a whole new meaning in the light of the pain I had been in over the weekend, on Friday… and maybe longer, as it just poured out of seemingly nowhere…

He never left me. Even when I was crying and raging. Even when I couldn’t feel Him. Even when I didn’t want to do anything but run. I couldn’t run from Him. I can’t.

Even though I was/am surrounded by darkness, He can see. He can see through it. Though my soul feels like it is floundering, He is holding me, seeing the rocks I am tripping on and trying to guide me, if only…

…if only.

If only I would look up at Him.
If I would lift Him up.

It took the praise earlier in the day, and the opportunity to pray later on, to soften my heart enough to hear His voice.

I spent time in confession.

One of the things: allowing my gaze to be wrenched off of Him, and onto my problems, my self, my pain. I needed to spend time seeking His forgiveness for not letting Him be my all in all.

I spent time in surrender.

I cried out to Him how much I hurt. I cried out about how things were so hard. How I just wanted to run away. But this time, I left it with Him. I was on my face sobbing. But I was surrendering.

Then I was sobbing, but praising Him. I spent time in the Word. I spent time reading again and again about who He is… and I praised Him for it. I sang back through the song we sang at church that morning.

As Jennifer said in our final chapter of our book, “Self Talk, Soul Talk,”
“…lift up God. As He grows bigger in your thought closet, you grow smaller.”

“When He becomes the center of our attention, we no longer take that spot.”

I forced my gaze back onto Him on Sunday afternoon. I confessed, I surrendered, and I lifted Him up. I praised Him while I was in the sanctuary of my church.

And I left the building with peace.

I still am struggling with depression. I suppose I have written that so many times in different posts it comes as no surprise. But right now I am at peace with it. I am at peace with God. I have my eyes focused on Him, and I pray that I will be able to continue to do that.

When I start focusing on “my” depression, I become the center of my attention, and that is exactly what the enemy wants. He wants me to focus on me, my problems, my anxieties… never on God.

But when I focus my gaze on the author and perfecter of my faith, I am looking up, and lifting up my soul.

“The Bible tells us that God takes pleasure in our praise. But when we set aside worries about our habitats and lose ourselves in the life-shaping, darkness-chasing, happiness-enhancing experience of pure praise, the pleasure is all ours.”

Here is the song that our worship team introduced in our worship time on Sunday. It was a powerful reminder of who God is, and that He has delivered me and set my feet upon a rock, so I will not be moved.

As icing on the cake… to top off my day, my God overwhelmed me. He blessed me beyond measure. Last week, I auditioned for a solo in my choir. I have tried out for years. Never thought I would get one… even this time.

But God.

I will be singing a solo in my choir concert at the end of April. The icing part of it? The song is “Be Thou My Vision.” (yes, the hymn, but different melody)

But how appropriate… He is my vision. I will lift Him up!

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