Friday, January 7, 2011

Poverty of Spirit

I had no idea a quest to discipline my life in prayer would reveal so many life altering issues of sinful pride in my life. I am captivated by what I'm learning in Paul Miller's Book, "A Praying Life." There is so much in Miller's writing that I can relate to - probably most American Christian's can relate to. My eagerness to learn how to pray has turned into a journey of confession, repentance, and mind altering changes. I thought this year I'd just become more disciplined and learn how to pray -  this book is rocking my core and revealing what sinful pride is welled up within the belief that, "I, in my strength can muster up  enough power to change my relationship with God. (though I would have never said it verbally, my actions showed this as my default pattern)" I am being transformed through scripture; transformed to see my sin, my pride, my helplessness and then to look up and find Grace. It isn't until I come to the Lord in my poverty and weakness that the Lord's power is truly lived out in my life. Prayer isn't about communicating with God to get what I want or simple an act of obedience - it is a life altering way at walking through this earthly life in step with my Abba Father.

"A Praying life isn't simple a morning prayer time, it is about slipping into prayer at odd hours of the, day, not  because we are disciplined but because we are in touch with our own poverty of spirit, realizing that we can't even walk through a mall or our neighborhood without  the help of the Spirit. (Page 68)"
Stress and Anxiety - the vessels God is using in my life to reveal my sin. I am busy, I can't possible be everything I feel God has called me to be - it is that simple. This past year I've been so overwhelmed with my life. Most of the time I felt like a juggler with all the balls up in the air and I knew at any moment they were all going to come crashing down on top of me. 

"We don't need self discipline to pray continuously, we just need to be poor in spirit. Poverty of Spirit makes room for the Spirit. It creates a God shaped hole in our hearts and offers us a new way to relate to others."

The more I tried to be disciplined the better I felt about myself  and the more I believed I was accomplishing. The problem was I knew there was something missing, I knew this wasn't the way God designed me to exist,I just didn't know where I needed to be to find that change. So I searched scripture and asked the Lord to help. This was the first step and I'm so exciting for what the Lord has been telling me! This week I've been practicing "walking in the spirit" and just praying thoughts to the Lord.

My children are the vessels God is using to change me - they are always here, always needy, always desperate for more love and more attention and more hugs and kisses. I can respond in love or frustration at all the demands I get each day. My relationship with God is being lived out daily in this home in front of my kids. My kids bring out the best and worst in me - they unearth my deepest sins due to the constant pressures and demands - reminds me of the verses on refining by fire in Psalms. My kids also make me laugh the hardest, sing the loudest, and smile the widest. No wonder God said children are a blessing - they bring me to my knees, bring me to my Savior, are a daily example of unconditional love.  I love my kids so unconditionally, no matter what they do - this thought draws me to the Lord because He loves me that unconditionally. My walk with God isn't a "do this, do  that, I failed now God is angry" type relationship.My faith is grounded and rooted in Love! God knows I'll mess up, just as I know my kids will mess up. Messy up are God's way of helping us learn - helping me learn how to walk  this life I've been given to the glory of God. In that light - sin is actually a gift, a gift of grace used by God to draw us to Him and reveal just how much He unconditionally loves us!

My kids and I are in processes, failing, stumbling, getting back up, this journey is suppose to happen. God never expects perfection, just intimacy with Him! This process changes us; a change that thrusts us right into the act of humility and the arms of God's mercy.

Here is one example from this week on how my mind is being transformed, Drew and I have struggled this year in the area of reading. I've given us a break since October and just felt ready to pick it back up with a renewed mind . I prayed short little prayers throughout the day as I was teaching the boys. The Lord put one word in my mind - Cheer. When it was time to start our lesson,  I prayed for our time, set the timer for 15 minutes, and off we went. My goal was no longer to "get through the lesson," my goal became, "To have fun, be an encourager, and help Drew to love what we are doing this moment." The lesson was interesting, Drew struggled on lesson 55, so I just went back 15 lessons where he felt more comfy with the number of words per page, when he got a word right I'd cheer and came up with a little silly chant  that made him giggle. Drew loved it! He smiled so big, he wanted to move on to the next word, he was delighted and I rarely had to remind him to stay focused . This approach is not my default, in fact my default is to get frustrated. My prayer throughout the lessons was "Lord, help! Give me wisdom" When the timer went off, I went to pick up the book and Drew said, "But I didn't finish the lesson, we're not done." I really wanted to "get to the end," but I knew that my goals wasn't to get to the end but to have a great experience. Over the week Drew has remained diligent and cheerful - he is completing one lesson in 15 minutes and is eager to race the timer. 

This week our schooling has come easier, there has been so much fun put into what we are learning. The irony of it is that Drew remembered more this week than any other week of school, our review time over the last few days is much shorter. I even found Drew with an early reader sounding out words on his own - that is huge!He also decided on his own to "silently" in his head sound our words. Wow!

Lord, my suppressed anxiety - when turned towards You - produces flavorful fruit that was shared with my whole family - Thank You. Lord - it is in my weakness  that Your mercy is made evident. May I walk in weakness and draw on You alone for strength.

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