Sunday, October 27, 2013

Living the Transparent Christian Life

Merriam Webster defines transparent as having the property of transmitting light without appreciable scattering bodies lying beyond are seen clearly. Living a transparent life is not easy. It requires a large amount of vulnerability and honesty with not only others but also with yourself. I think this can be especially difficult for people who wish to portray a particular image to others and some of the people who struggle the most of this are Christians. It can be so easy to try to put on a fa├žade or a mask and try to pretend to be what you consider a good Christian to be. The devil uses our pain, shame, and guilt to keep us in a prison of isolation and lies.
When I was in high school I began my battle with depression. I had become so good at acting like the happy-go-lucky Christian girl without any care in the world that even my closest friends and family had no idea how deep my pain was. It wasn’t until I could no longer bare the weight of the depression and began inflicting self-harm and acting out my suicidal fantasies that people came to full knowledge of what I was battling. At that time I thought my role was to always be pleasant and seem like I had the perfect life. The weight of the lies was almost as heavy as that of the depression. Part of me wanted to find a way to allow the pain out. In a twisted way I found that cutting myself would relieve some of my pain. At the moment I thought it was a way to release and control the amount of pain I was in. For me it was the same as drinking and smoking because all those things seem to help for that very moment but only caused more physical harm, more shame, and scars that last. Depression has a way of entrapping you into a world of secrecy. I stayed trapped in my own thoughts for years but when I finally realized I couldn’t do it on my own I was able to give it to God and allow others to help me. Hiding my pain from others only kept me from getting the help I needed and kept me from connecting with others.
As I sit in my fifth grade classroom, I stare down at the book. I pray to myself that she does not call my name. It’s one of those few times I am quiet in the class because I know if I’m caught speaking to my friends I’m more likely to be called on. My heart begins to race and I can’t seem to find the place where everyone is at. A quick moment of relief rushes over me when I hear her call someone else’s name. I’m still frantically seeking to find where they are. I glance up to check the slow moving clock that mocks me with every tick… tick… tick.  When I go to look down at my book again the most terrifying thing happens, I make eye contact with her. I hear her call my name and fear fills me.  My eyes skim across the millions of words on the page but I don’t seem to recognize any of them. I know my face must be flush because I can feel the heat coming from it. A friend leans over and points to the spot on the page. My relief over finding my place is quickly destroyed when I realize that now I must read these words out loud. I slowly sputter out words tripping and falling over every letter. I can’t even recollect the words as they’re coming out my mouth. It feels like slow excruciating torture. I am so ashamed that everyone now knows how stupid I am. Thankfully, the teacher just thinks that I don’t pay attention. It’s always better to be considered a slacker then it is to be considered stupid. It wasn’t until six years later that I realized that there was a reason that I could not read. I spent so many years afraid and ashamed to tell my teachers and my parents that I was struggling. When I finally put off my shame my parents were able to get me the help I needed. It took me many years to realize that I was not stupid, but the devil uses the words to pierce at me from time to time. Hiding my shame from others only kept me from getting the help I needed and kept me from connecting with others.
Sometimes the guilt we feel for a sin that we have committed or are in the process of committing keeps us from being open and honest with others. There is just something about putting the words out there that makes it seem so much more real and also more convicting. It can also be difficult to be open because we fear judgment even in the church today. We need to remember whom the judge we should fear is, and not be concerned about the thoughts of others if we are doing what is right. I have openly admitted to other Christians that I had committed the sin of adultery and I have found that very few picked up stones to throw at me. In fact many have appreciated my honesty and have opened up about their shortcomings. If it is guilt over something we have already done and repented from, then this secrecy and darkness can keep it from fully healing. If it is something we are doing currently, often we don’t tell others because in our hearts we know what’s wrong but we want to still do it anyways We also don’t want anyone to hold us accountable. If we stay isolated from other Christians because we want to be living in sin we will fall farther and farther away and we will sink deeper into that sin until it almost consumes us like quicksand. Remember though that is never too late to turn back to God. Hiding my guilt from others only kept me from getting the help I needed and kept me from connecting with others.
I have found that living a transparent Christian life has freed me from so many things. It allows me to have a deeper connection with other Christians. I have also found that through the healing that God has given me, He has also given others healing in their own lives through my story of His healing. My prayer is that my friends will not see me as perfect but will see me as someone who has been transformed by God and who loves God. Sin grows and thrives in darkness just like mold and bacteria do, but in allowing all of that to be exposed to God’s light… that is where you find healing.God has turned the very things that I once had hidden into ministry and uses the things that I once saw as pain, shame, and guilt to bring Him glory.

Merriam Webster defines transparent as having the property of transmitting light without appreciable scattering bodies lying beyond are seen clearly. Living the transparent Christian life is to let God’s light truly shine through you so others may see Him and all he has done. 

John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

2 Samuel 22:29 You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Power of Prayer

Hello everyone, 

I thought I would start off my introducing myself. My name is Faith and I am a wife, a mother of two beautiful girls, a friend, a daughter, a sister, blogger, and a child of God. My blog is Daily Struggles and Uplifting Scriptures I often blog about what things I struggle with and how God is teaching me. 

This is Abigaile my 7 year old 
This is Elizabeth my 1yeaa

Told you they were cute.

At the beginning of the school year I began our first year of homeschooling. It is tough at times but I love being in control of what my daughter is learning, being able to help her at her own pace, and her curriculum. One of the books that we were reading last week is a Christian book about different Christian heroes of the past and present. This particular book was based on the life of George Muller. Now I had never heard of him before and just in case you hadn't I figured I would put a quick background to who he was from what I have learned. 

George Muller was a Christian evangelist who opened several orphanage homes and began a ministry called the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad. He cared for over 10,000 orphans in his time. He also began many schools for children and adults where they could learn more about God. All of this without asking anyone for a single penny. Now George Muller was not rich... he actually lived a life of very little means, but he believed in the power of prayer and of God's love for His people. 

While this book was for my daughters education, I found that God was trying to reach me through it. As I was reading the book I found myself feeling very convicted and in awe of God's power and love. It seemed like every page I read aloud I would find a lump growing in my throat, my vision blurring from tears, and myself holding my breath. Over and over again there would be a need, George would pray, and God would faithfully provide. Now I pray, but there was something so different about the way George Muller prayed from how I do. He prayed with so much faith, conviction, and boldness. 

There was this one example in the book. One day friend of the Muller's were visiting with their daughter, Abigail. As the little girl was playing in the garden, the head lady of the orphanage came into Muller's office and told him that they had no food to feed the 300 children for breakfast. George went and got Abigail and took her to where the children were waiting to pray and eat. He told her to watch what God was about to do. As all the children stood before their empty bowls, George prayed. He didn't ask God to send food. Instead, he thanked God for the food that He was sending. When the prayer was over there was a knock at the door. It was a baker who woke up at 2am to bake all the children bread because he felt lead to. Then their was a milk cart that broke right outside the orphanage doors and the only way for the man to fix his cart was to unload a bunch of the milk, so he gave it to them for free. 

Even now that story amazes me. So often I pray using phrases such as, "if it's your will", and "if you don't it's ok but Lord please..." Now, I am not saying that it is bad to pray for God's will, but I think when I know God's will, I should pray with boldness. So often those phrases are due to a lack of faith and an insecurity. I have been praying that God would teach me to pray with faith, boldness, power, and conviction. 

Recently I tried this... praying with boldness. I truly believed that my husband and I were supposed to go on an upcoming marriage retreat, but they had no spots open and we couldn't afford it. Someone had given us a gift certificate to go which covered the cost but we still did not have a spot, so I prayed. I prayed that God would open the doors to make it possible and I thanked Him in advanced. It felt so uncomfortable. Two days later, we received a call that we had a spot on the marriage retreat. God answered our prayers. 

I wonder how many more things God wants for me if I would be willing to show a little more faith in my prayer life. 

Ephesians 3:20-21 "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

1 John 5:14-15 "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him."

Thanks for taking the time to read this and thank you Claudia for letting me share with your readers.