Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Cure for the Pain

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16.

I was listening to a Jon Foreman song tonite, "A Cure for the Pain" and like most songs that I have listened to a number of times, I heard it for the "first time" tonite. It captured my attention, because as I listened to the words, I heard my story in this song. I heard the pain of the past 10+ years. I heard the desperation to find a "cure", to find relief from the depression and anxiety. I looked for cures everywhere, medication, counseling, nurtrition, deliverance and healing ministries, you name it, I searched it out. All of it done with a lot of crying out to God. But when it was all said an done there were no "quick cures" for the pain. At one time or another some of these helped in a manner of speaking to "function" in life. But none got down to the true heart of the matter, dealing with the real pain and providing life, peace and joy.

When the medication "stopped" working for me several years ago, and I was scared to keep trying different ones. I began to hear the Lord say to me, come unto me all you who are weary and heavy ladden and I will give you rest". I realized that I was at a place where I had to truly just trust him. After much prayer, I realized that it was time to get off the Rx's I was taking, which was not an easy thing to do. But I heard in my heart God saying, "Jay get in the boat and cross over", just as he told his disciples and then left and went up on the mountain. Soon the storms arose and the waters got rough and the disciples were afraid. Yet as they looked across the waters, Jesus came walking toward them. Jesus was revealing himself to them as more than just a teacher, as more than just a man. He was God himself, incarnate, Creator and Lord of all nature. Soon after he entered the boat, the storms subsided and peace came.

My boat ride has been pretty rough. Because getting off of an addictive anti-anxiety medication that you have taken for years is not easy. Actually it is down right terrifying. It feels like you are in a boat being tossed by every wind and wave in the storm and Jesus is no where to be found. You feel abandoned, afraid and greatly ashamed of your condition. You begin to question if you have ever even heard from God in your life and wish for the former days when life was much simpler. But then if the disciples had stayed on the shore, they would not have received the "revelation" of Jesus walking on the water. I suspect that Peter and John who had spent a lot of time fishing on Galilee, could see the signs that a storm was coming, but they obeyed Jesus anyway and got into the boat.

In order for Jesus to heal the pain, to get to the other side, we have got to get into the boat, even if doing so will result in passing through what feels like even more pain than what we started with. Because until we do, there can be no cure for what truly ails us deep in our hearts. That pain comes in many forms and expresses itself in so many ways. Mine expressed itself in anxiety and depression. For others it can be addictions or a tremendous need to control life all around them. For others it is getting lost in hobbies or even religion. They all look different, some worse than others. But when it is all said and done, we all need to hear the Lord speak to us "to get into the boat" and pass through the storm. Sometimes the doctor has to lance the wounds in order to heal them.

The good news is that Jesus always comes and reveals himself to us in the way we need him most. We need that revelation of who he is and of his love because we all tend to "intellecutalize" our understanding of who Jesus is and what his Salvation truly means to us. But until we actually realize our need for a "Savior/Saver" we cannot truly know who HE is. So take heart because we have a great high priest who has shared in our temptations to despair, to give up, to want to lose hope, to despise ourselves, to give up on God, to not believe in his love. Yes that is what the scripture says, " he was tempted in everyway that we are, yet without sin". Sounds almost sacrilegious that Jesus experienced those kinds of temptations, but the word says he did. But the good news is that he did not sin, he did not give into them. Because of that he was worthy to be our sin sacrifice, he was worthy to suffer in our behalf and he is worthy to be our high priest, full of compassion and grace.

Come to him in the midst of whatever struggle you are having. Whatever temptation you are enduring to not believe that God is truly good and truly loves you. He is not your enemy or the cause of your pain. He has made the way through his sacrifice of Love on the cross. He has paid the price for my failures and yours. He has made the way into the Holy of Holies accesible through his blood shed on a cross. Bring him your tears, your weaknesses, your fears and yes your sins. Because as the songs says.....heaven knows.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith. And who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:4,5).

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,but be
transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom 12:2).

You don't overcome the father of lies by trying not to believe him. You overcome the lies of this world by choosing the truth, and you keep choosing it until your mind is renewed. (Neil Anderson, "Freedom from Fear").

The battle with anxiety, fear or depression, begins in the mind. How we think, what we think, how we perceive ourselves and the world around us. Daily we are presented with the world's view (other people, television, books, radio, internet, etc), the enemy's lies (satan the father of all lies) and hopefully, God's viewpoint. There is a saying among computer people, "garbage in, garbage out". Taking your thoughts captive, as scripture says is truly a daily battle at times. Especially if the "software" of your mind is filled with viruses (wrong programing/lies). So each day I have to choose to believe and meditate on the word of God to reprogram the software (mind) and remove the viruses. To choose to believe what he says is true about Him, about me and about this life.

What are some of the lies that we/I battle with at times? The thing about deception/lies is that they are not easily recognized, because they have been accepted in our minds for so long as reality and truth. Many of these lies were formed in early childhood and life's experiences. In a world where truth is "relative" we have not a clue there was such a thing as "God's truth". Dr. Edmund J. Bourne describes four subpersonalities that are most vulnerable to serious bouts with anxiety and panic, the "worrier", the "victim", the "critic" and the "perfectionist". Each subpersonality is susceptible and/or are products of different kinds of lies.

The "worrier" creates anxiety by imagining the worst-case scenario. Worriers find it hard to rest in the loving and protective arms of their heavenly Father. Life's problems call for continual vigilance, lest one be caught off-guard. However, Jesus reminds us of the following truth, "Which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life's span?" (Matt. 6:27). The answer is none, but you can seriously reduce the number of hours by worrying.

The "victim" is overwhelmed by a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. The "victim" believes that there is something inherently wrong with him or her: they see themselves in some ways as deprived, defective, or unworthy. The "victim" perceives insurmountable obstacles. "Victims" bemoan, complain and regret things as they are at present. They believe that nothing will ever change. I would say this LIE has been one of the most difficult for me to personally overcome. Just the experience of having panic attacks, depression and ongoing anxiety that seemingly hit me out of nowhere years ago, left me feeling that something bad was wrong with me and has not been easily shaken.

The third personality is the "critic". They have an overly sensitive conscience and tend to berate themselves and others. They come under mental attack by an unrelenting barrage of thoughts like: "I can't do anything right." "I am so stupid." "Other people don't struggle with this, but look at me (this one is a biggie for me)." These statements echo the voice of demanding parents, teachers, employers, etc and place negative labels on our souls. Most importantly Faith is drained away, and we feel constantly put down for not being able to overcome our fears and live a normal life.

Last of all is the "Perfectionist" a close cousin of "Critic". Their favorite expression is "I should...", "I have to..." and "I must...". The need to achieve perfection makes them driven, stressed and irritable and candidates for an anxiety disorder.

The thing to remember is that just because we may be Christians, our minds still have the old programming from years of walking in the flesh and this world. Many times those lies (wrong programming) are not easily recognized and we continue to go through cycles of failure and frustration in our walk with God or fall into fear and anxiety. Ask God to "search your heart" and reveal those "wrong paths" (lies) and then ask Him to lead you in "paths of righteousness" through the truth of his word. God's promise to us is that those who are born of God, who put their faith and trust in his son Jesus Christ can overcome this world and the inherent evil of this world (1 John 5:4,5). We do not have to play the "victim" anymore to Satan's lies, we do not have to live in fear and worry. For Jesus has overcome the world.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Out of the Slimy Pit

A new year and a new venture for me. Putting down on "paper" what I see as a journey of discovery and healing in 2010. A new identity or actually a discovery of my true identity in Christ. For some reason I am really struggling with doing this. I guess because I hesitate to record this struggle via a blog, openly sharing my struggles and journey. It is kind of unnerving to think that some of my deepest thoughts, desires and yes fears will be available for others to see. This has been a long time coming, but only now do I have the push in my heart to start. Even then I still struggle with what to put down, so I have decided to just start and put something down and over time it will just develop. I guess it is because I try to get things just right, just perfect. I want everything to line up a certain way. Actually I just want to look good for others, I am afraid to look anything less than perfect. Essentially I realize I am not real crazy about taking off the various masks that I wear to impress others or hide what only God knows about me. I am realizing that I have hesitated and wrestled with this blog because it is so personal and vulnerable. What I am hearing God say to my heart is to NOT try and present a "finished product" but to just be honest about my journey with HIM to overcome and learn how to walk by faith. Because if I may be so bold, this is not just about me, but for others who have suffered from anxiety and fear most of their lives. It is my hope that as I walk out God's healing for my life, for my heart, that others will learn also and be healed.

The Lord has given me a scripture for the coming year that has encouraged me to look to 2010 with renewed hope and vision. It is Psalm 40. I want to share the first three verses.

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit,out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.

That scripture says so much to me and I believe it is prophetic of what God is doing and will do for and through me in 2010. Actually when it is all said and done, this blog is my testimony of faith in the work of Christ in my life. My declaration that "greater is HE that is in me than he that is in the world". For too long I have lived as a prisoner in a "slimy pit" of despair and anxiety. Managing life and the anxiety that constantly has filled my days. I will talk more about that at another time, but now I want to make the declaration that in 2010 through the grace and power of God's spirit I am being "lifted" out of this pit. Because you see no amount of struggle, fighting, climbing or human effort has gotten me out of this "slimy pit". Imagine a deep pit of wet, slimy clay, with vertical walls 8-10 feet in height with standing water of a couple of feet in the pit. You are covered in clay and mud and soaked to the bone. All your attempts to climb out have failed, you feel totally helpless and hopeless. That is where I found myself at the end of 2009.

After several years of using man's techniques, reading many books and just managing life, I found myself feeling the despair and hopelessness of my own efforts. It is not that I haven't prayed or shed many tears to God. However, I realized with the help of the Holy Spirit and dear friends that God really hasn't been my focus of faith. Instead I have believed the lies of the voices in my head that say it is hopeless or that I am hopeless. So I begin 2010 by choosing to meditate on and believe the truth of God's word about him and about me too. He turned to me and heard my cry, He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire. He set my feet on a rock and gave me a new place to stand.

So here I find myself beginning to see my life and walk through eyes of faith and not despair. Is this a pollyana journey? Absolutely not. Choosing to walk by faith in God's word is a transforming process. That is, we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. My problem is that my mind is full of so much garbage about God, about me and about life, that it is no wonder I constantly have battled with anxiety and fear. So as I meditate on God's word, on his truths, I see myself being lifted out of the slimy pit and set on the Rock of his truth, the Rock of Jesus, who is the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE. Recording this journey of learning to walk in the truth and life of Jesus is going to be a delicate balance. Because part of learning to walk in his truth will be exposing the lies. I do not want this journal to be about anxiety and fear,but about God's faithfulness to heal and transform. However I sense part of the process will be exposing the lies of it all. So I ask the Holy Spirit to help me go there with His help and wisdom.

He put a new song in my mouth.....Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. I see that as prophetic for 2010 and beyond. The result of being transformed through the renewing of my mind, of being lifted out of the slimy pit. A new song, a new vision of the Father and of His vision for me. I have lived in the vision of the pit and despair for so long that I have forgotten who the Father truly is and what his heart for me is. Yes I have continued to attend church and pray and believed that he exist. But Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe (not only) that he exist, (but) that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. That is where I stopped, I had quit believing that he would reward my seeking him. Actually I had quit believing that he is GOOD. That he does love me, that he is for me, that he can and WANTS to deliver me. I have instead believed the enemy's lies about me. I have been walking in fear of Fear itself. Actually fear is just another form of faith, believing in the worst, not in God's faithfulness. I have made it (Fear) my god, because I have believed it has more power than the God who created me. So I repent and say I choose to no longer walk in that lie. I choose to begin walking in the truth of God's word. I realize that this is a daily decision to seek God for the new manna of each day. This will require faith, patience and a Brave Heart. So that is who I call myself, Brave Heart , I say this through tears, because it just occurred to me that is what God calls me, and that is who the enemy does not want me to see. Brave Heart is one of my favorite movies, because I too want to be a warrior, I too want to defeat the enemies (spiritual forces of darkness) of my life. I want to see people set free from the pain and destruction of sin and iniquity. Which brings me to the last verse,

Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.

That is the desire of my heart. That others who are trapped in the slimy pit of anxiety, fear, and panic disorder, will hear the voice of one crying in this wilderness of slime pits that there is a way, there is a hope, and` there is a life outside of the pit. That we don't have to live there all of our lives. That we have a loving Creator and Father who is so much bigger than the lies we have believed so long about him, ourselves and fear itself. The only way I can share this journey is to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfector of my faith. Because I am just a "pit dweller" like others who need help standing on the ROCK.