Monday, October 25, 2010

Spiritual Smackdown


Last Thursday morning, I sat with my weekly Bible study group engrossed in the lesson. At least I appeared to be engrossed in the lesson. I had the whole pencil perched, head cocked, pensive look thing going on. In truth?  I was lost in my own thoughts of how that particular lesson related to me.

Isn’t that too often the way?

Even when I’m about studying The Word of God, that sin nature has the nasty little habit of making it all about me.

As if…

This particular morning, I was thinking about frustrations and roadblocks, mostly of the human sort,  which The Enemy had put in my Pilgrim's Path.  And so I sat there, nodding on the outside but pouring out a lamentation on the inside.  It was really pretty pitiful.

Then, a funny thing happened.

A soft breeze blew through the open window. Almost as if in slow motion, it lifted and turned  a single page in my Bible.  It was a shiny red Kodak moment.

It was also a touch surreal, and I felt the oddball need to glance around the room to see if anyone else had been disturbed by said breeze. All signs pointed to no.

So I glanced down at the page,
 and there it was,
a message from God,
an underlined passage of scripture 
jumping out from all surrounding verses.

It said,

“Do not lose heart.”

Awww. I felt empowered for a pair of minutes, and I smiled to myself at being so confirmed in the spirit. Do not lose heart, you poor frustrated soul…

I flipped the page and returned to the discussion at hand.

But then, that annoying voice... you know the one... began to speak inside my head.  It said, “Go back and read the rest of the passage.” 

Now, I was pretty content with the part I had read, and I said as much to the voice inside my head. Apparently it disagreed.  The little nagger kept repeating, "Go back and read the rest of the passage."  I'm almost positive it called me Deb-or-ah.

Finally, I turned the page.
And I looked down.

And this time, I noticed
not four underlined words,
but five.
I had conveniently overlooked the fifth one.
It was the word "AND".

Well phooey, my word from God was not a complete thought at all. It was part of a larger whole. There was context to consider.

This context:

(Hebrews 12: 4-13)

Yep. Right there in the middle of my personal pity party, He flipped the page of His book to show me another take on the aforementioned frustration. While I was using words like persecute, and trial, and attack, he was using words like discipline… and rebuke.

Seriously?

I spent the rest of the Bible study and a good part of the afternoon thinking about that passage and how it related to me.  I thought about my attitude of late as well, and I came to a conclusion.

It stinketh. 

And I thought... was it possible that the current obstacle in my Pilgrim's Progress was my own attitude? Was it possible that the frustration du jour was not sent against me but for me? Was it possible... even remotely possible... that what I perceived as the Enemy trying to frustrate my plans was not that at all, but a loving Father giving his daughter a good old fashioned time out?


You know...
for her own good…
to “think about it”…
to work on that attitude, missy….

All signs point to yes.

So I have been in the corner since Thursday, doing some fast praying about my attitude. And you know...even if I'm wrong and it was just some random breeze blowing, that's still a pretty good place to be.

How about you?
Have you ever gotten the spiritual smack down? 


33 comments:

Jane said...

Powerful words for a Monday. I love it!

Jane

gnee @ Singing With Birds said...

What a powerful post, Debbie. I believe that one of Satan's greatest tools with God's children is to discourage us and make us feel unworthy. He makes us feel like we aren't good enough to talk to God. On the other hand, Jesus Christ is always there for us with His hand outstretched, beckoning us to come back. I choose to wake up every day and try to annoy the adversary and be more like Jesus Christ. You are such a wonderful daughter of God, and yes we need to repent daily of our sins. I'm not excusing us, as we need to be actively working to become more like our Savior. Nevertheless, I know our Heavenly Father loves us more than we can imagine. Thank goodness we are prompted, maybe even smacked on occasion to change. Hugs to you...

Angel said...

Oh, Debbie, this is good stuff. No random breeze here. This was God speaking loud and clear. How cool!

And I literally laughed out loud when you described your attitude (because I share the same one when I'm getting a "spiritual smackdown") - "It Stinketh"!

But, like you, I'm glad that He cares enough about us to help us work through the issues at hand and not give up on us.

Thank you for this great post! It is a wonderful reminder of His love.

Denise said...

Great post. At least you know if He's disciplining you, you truly belong to Him. You know I get smacked down on a regular basis. (Learning to get in the word and determine what is really God's will...and then praying and doing His will. Idle time...) I love your insight my wonderful baby sister. Thanks for sharing.

Sharon Kirby said...

Oh Debbie - I loved this post! Would it be all right if I copied and shared it with my writer's group? (There's only four of us, so I'm not talking the masses...) Having had a little "inside scoop" on this "random" page-blowing incident, I am even more blessed by how you fleshed out the lesson. So, so good.

You are getting to know me better (good thing or bad thing - jury's still out) - so you know that I myself enjoy a good Pity Party with the best of them. Even been known to invite some Invisible People to gripe and groan along with me. Sometimes, I just need a new perspective...

You have provided that with your wise words (they really are wise, friend!). The "frustrations" in my path, in the direction I want to take in my life, don't always come from that pesky enemy - sometimes they come from a loving God who is trying (desperately, and often against MY will) to change me into a person who resembles His Son. He's shaping me into HIS vessel. He's got quite a cracked pot to mold!

Thank you for the reminder that He doesn't just want to "teach" me something in His wisely ordained "time outs" - He wants to MAKE me something - not just fixed, but transformed!!

xoxo to you and GOD BLESS!

p.s. Got your email - will probably get back to you later today or tomorrow... :)

Vanessa said...

Great title! Great post! Great words of wisdom and encouragement! Great, Great, Great! I so relate to this and was just talking with a friend (and actually just wrote a post about it too) about how annoying it can be to go to the Lord complaining about one thing only to have Him reveal the things in our hearts that we need to work on. I truly believe that the closer we get to Him, the more we are aware of our own sin and dare I say...depravity? :-)
Thank you for being so honest and forthcoming and for giving me the courage to hit the "publish" button soon on that post I wrote!
Vanessa

Ms.Daisy said...

Debbie,
Loved this post. I really enjoyed reading about your musings during your bible study and, yes, I do believe the Lord directs us to take second (and sometimes third) looks at what He is trying to show us. I've been "spanked" on occasion as one of my pastors refers to it!


~Jean

Marydon said...

G'eve Debbie ~ He sure knows how to get our attention doesn't He! Beautiful write ...

Have a BOO-TEA-FUL week!
TTFN ~ Hugs, Marydon

Custom Comforts said...

I love your honesty and being so open with all of us. Thank you for being so transparent ~ it makes it easier to look inside myself and see the truth.
Cindy

Chari at Happy To Design said...

Hi Debbie...

Ohhh...God is sooo GOOD, isn't HE? I'm so thankful that He speaks to us...and I'm so thankful for His Word! I certainly can relate...have been in that same spot sooo many times...and will be there again, I'm sure! But we are all "works in progress"!!! Thank God for His mercies that are new to us each morning!!! Thank you so much for sharing this powerful and sweet word with us!!!

I'm so glad that you stopped by for a visit today! Thank you for your very sweet note and warm and generous compliments! Thank you, Debbie!!!

Warmest autumn wishes,
Chari @Happy To Design

Amy Kinser said...

He may come in an earthquake, a mighty rushing wind, a still small voice, or a gentle breeze through an open window. I praise God that you had that moment with Him and for all of the teachable moments to come.

Toodie said...

Now that was ah holy moment you recognized. It was very nice of you to share this with us. Nicely written and very comparable for us to see how God tries to smack us down sometimes to listen.

FrouFrouBritches said...

I'm constantly saying, "If God would just leave me a note, I would know exactly what he wants me to do" and I think it was my dad who reminded me "He did. In fact he left you a whole book". It's cool how God can lead you to something you need to see. God rocks!

Just for the record, my attitude and I need a timeout here lately too. We all need a timeout now and then.

laurie @ bargain hunting said...

Debbie, this is such a wonderful lesson and so well written. I'm sure God has attempted to give me a "smackdown", but I've been too self-absorbed to notice. If a breeze came through and blew my bible to a different page, I would probably be frustrated that I had to turn back to the page we were studying! God, in His wisdom knows that I am slow in the head and would send me a bigger smackdown! He knows that YOU only needed the turning of a page. I love that you are so open to God's message! laurie

Kelli said...

I'm sending you a virtual hug!! I needed your words today. I get many "smack downs!" usually because of children and husbands. These precious things in our life force me to continually fall to my knees and beg forgiveness or praise his holy name. God is awesome!

Gayle said...

Loved this. Sometimes I'm like the stubborn mule. I have to have a bridle to steer me right.

Dayle said...

Oh my. Believe it or not, that exact verse has popped up at me in the past, too. I remember where I was and almost the year, even though it was well over 20 years ago, when it happened the first time. And, wouldn't you know, I've had to be smacked down a number of times in the years following, with the same verse? It sure came in handy when raising my daughter though. LOL! See, honey? Even the Lord has to discipline His children.

I just love the Lord for loving me enough to discipline me. And that's whay I used to tell my daughter, too. If I didn't love you, I wouldn't care how you acted.

Great post. I really needed it.

Anita said...

Wow. I know I need that. Ok enough said. Thanks:-) Really you have such a way with sharing a message. Incredible! I'm way late getting around but looks like I got here just in time! Thanks so much for sharing that!!

blesid said...

I am so glad we have a heavenly father who {while still our friend} is able to rebuke us as a loving father SHOULD! Wish I could have witnessed the breeze... goosebump moment! Thanks for sharing!

elizabeth said...

He loves you so much! Whom He loves He corrects....but I must say, the whole wind blowing your Bible to that page...that was kind of a smack upside the head to get your attention wasn't it! I'm not laughing AT you, but WITH you, as I have been there, done that.
I can be a willful child sometimes myself.
Love to you,
Elizabeth
http://www.justfollowingjesus.com

SALTBOX TREASURES said...

Hi Debbie, thanks for yakking back on my book post. I always enjoy your comments.
Wow . . . this post is pretty powerful! What a God moment! But, remember, don't lose heart. Don't stay in the corner too long.
~ Julie

Just Plain Tired said...

Whenever I decide to be in the midst of a self pity party those words do come in handy.

Ann said...

The Lord works in mysterious ways ... and sometimes, not so mysterious.
I was not feeling too hot about things myself yesterday when the hubby phoned on his way home, and told me to go out and look to the west, then the east.

Well, the western sky was the most beautiful shade of oranges and pinks. I was in awe.

Then, I looked to the east and saw the most beautiful rainbow.

Both views were God's work and certainly brought me out of my doldrums, with a little help from the husband.

Debbie said...

Oh Ann! You needed to run and get a shiny red Kodak!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Debbie, I am kind of like a Lassie (or at least like my former collie). I take discipline so seriously that the Lord has to be more subtle with me lest I go running into the hills. ;-)

But yes, that voice of the Holy Spirit is ever present in my life. One time, I had a situation where someone was taken out of my life. I had invested vast resevoirs of emotional energy loving that person through thick and thin, love which, in the end, was discarded like yesterday's newspaper. Long story that doesn't bear repeating. But this part does...

This friend had a sister who can be a bit thorny, and the Lord was dealing with me to really befriend her. I was like, "Lord, she will eat me alive, and I have nothing left to give." He took me to the Psalms which I had been studying and also to another scripture in the New Testament. Basically, the gist of this is, He laid me flat on the floor in the gentlest way imaginable, and at the moment all I could do was lie on the floor, literally facedown before Him, and marvel at His wisdom and praise Him for His gentle rebuke.

See, the Lord let me know that He had prepared a huge banquet before me (in the presence of mine enemies) and caused my own cup to runneth over, and all this person wanted were the crumbs from my table. (Remember the Scripture where the Gentile woman looked at Jesus, and said, "Lord, even the dogs eat the crumbs from their master's table"? And Jesus was so moved that He healed her right there. So I got the picture God wanted me to get... this person was desperate only for the crumbs of my affection. And here I was not willing (afraid) to even give her any!

Debbie, it was a HUGE lightbulb moment for me, and I have never felt so humbled in my life. I then became aware of the fact (again) that the people the Lord has for us to love are not necessarily the people we enjoy loving or "think" we enjoy loving or think we should love, but the people He places there for us to love, somtimes the unloved and even the unlovely. Does that make sense?

Well, I took him up on His challenge, and I began to give her the crumbs of my affection at a time when my own well was dry. And do you know what? It was like a miracle, and her response blessed ME so much in return that I have no idea how I would live without her in my life. It changed me. It really did. It was a pivotal moment. And what's more she was GRATEFUL, even for the crumbs, when her sister had taken and taken and taken in reckless, selfish abandon like someone entitled, an ingrate. Do I miss her? Well, in the same way a father misses a prodigal, yes, but God has helped me put it all into perspective.

So that's my story. There are others, but I think that was the one where His gentle rebuke spoke many, many volumes to me.

XO,

Sheila :-)

Manda said...

I like that you call is a "smack down"... I've had too many to count, my friend. Lately, God has been wrestling with me each time I want to say something like "But I just need to...." or "If only I could...". WAIT!!! Rewind. He pulls me back to the foundational truth that isn't not what I do, it's what He's done. It's not about me, it's about who He is. Those are some precious truths that release the heavy burden. It's all about Him and through Him we can stand the trials that come.

Jennie said...

I love that "even if I'm wrong and it was just some random breeze blowing, that's still a pretty good place to be"...but I don't think you're wrong.

I've been grappling with the discipline subject a lot lately. I love that you have seen it as the blessing it is...that's how parents truly show their children they love them. And God loves us so, doesn't he?

One more thing...I love how God sends us little messages...whether in the form of a gentle breeze or a blog post from someone "out here" in blog land. It might just be how badly I'm in need of repair, but it seems like I keep reading blog posts that could be about *me*. It's so cool to see this used as one of God's tools. (And I'm too brain-dead to make that not rhyme. Sorry.) I find myself having a less than rosy attitude myself (totally snorted at "stinketh"), so I will pray for you and for me in this regard.

Sonja said...

oh boy! I have SO been in that place, where I get such a good word from my quiet time, and then find 'the more' that is exactly what He wanted me to hear!! Easier with just the first part, necessary to have the second part! :)

Loved this Debbie!

Dianne said...

Oh Debbie, YES, I have gotten the "spiritual smack down" numerous times and I'm sure I needed every one of them. Random breezes?? In God's world, I wonder if anything is random. I don't think so.

Great post--gently convicting. Thank you.

Chatty Crone said...

Oh my gosh yes - and not just once. Love, sandie

Carol said...

Debbie,
Yes I have gotten the smack down. Because He loves us all so much! This is a wonderful, wonderful post.
And Debbie, thanks for your fun and insightful comments on my blog....I think we'd have a hilarious time in person!

Sandi (Meme) said...

Wow! You made me smile with your honesty, and I love the thought "it stinketh". I've been having some attitude problems lately, and have even considered seeing a psychiatrist. I know that seems a bit extreme maybe, but I did consider it. I also think maybe I'm having some hormonal imbalance, but most of all - I needed this post! Thanks for your honesty! Sandi P.S. and thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment on my TTT post! Love having you over!

Yellow Rose Arbor said...

Neat post! Can I borrow that word? I need it! ;-)

Katherine

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