Thursday, April 21, 2011

freedom in serving Him

I question every-thing and every-one, including God.  Yet, I've been given a keen sense of knowing what is truth.  

There is prompting in my spirit that speaks louder than the voices in my head, even though they still chatter.

Those voices in my head annoy me and sometimes I feel like I'm going crazy.  Especially when those voices and the true voices my spirit knows, come face-to-face.  It's like I'm caught in the middle of the two and I need to stand up for what I know is true, and live it.  Yet, there doesn't seem to be any tangible evidence to prove what my spirit knows is true.

But, there is evidence.  Lots of it.  It takes living by faith to see it.  

I feel like I'm flailing in the deep waters of *living*.

I think of the times when living felt good and my cadence picked up as I swam through life - almost gliding through the water.

Now, I see myself focusing very intently on what is in front of me - one breath at a time.  Until that isn't enough.  And I begin to flail about as if I'm in deep water and suddenly I gasp for air.  I tread water and it takes awhile for me to *surrender to my back* where truth tells me I will struggle less.

Eventually I do flip over and slowly flutter to the side of the pool, yet I still hold on to fear that I might hit my head on the side when I get there.  Surrendering my own self is difficult for me.

This analogy of swimming in life is very real to me.

Recently I made a decision to compete in the swim portion of a sprint triathlon as a family with my groom and my mother.  I've had the challenge on my mind as something I'd like to take do solo - Some. Day.  This year, it wasn't even in the forefront of my mind.  But, when my groom suggested just four and a half weeks out from the event that we do it together, as a family - with my mom as the runner and he as the biker - I felt an enormous amount of pressure [from myself, exclusively] to say yes.  I couldn't rationalize a reason to say no.  

But, I'm not a swimmer - At. All.  I've never done the distance.  I'd never swam more than two laps without gasping for air and calling it a day.  I'm a runner.  I can run eight miles practically any day.

Recently, I've started to conquer some fears through cycling.  I've felt God's presence with me and I've sensed it was His prompting to give it a try.  Swimming, though, didn't seem a natural next step.  At least not yet, anyway.  It didn't make the least bit of sense to me.  Swim?  Me?  Now?!  I kept wondering how is it that I got stuck doing the part in an event that I am not at all familiar with?  And the answer in my head was, just so we can do it as a family.

I made an idol out of family.  

I said yes anyway, and I committed to getting myself in the pool three times each week for four weeks.  I partnered up with a co-worker who is doing the same challenge with little experience in the water, and being with her helped ease the pain *a little bit*.

Every one I talked to said [I] could do it.  And when I expressed my fears and anxiety, those same people told me that I am too hard on [myself].

Still, I felt like I was flailing.  I didn't think it was about being too hard on myself.  That didn't make sense this time.

Honestly, I felt pressured.  I wanted to get out of the pool.  I had to push myself to keep going, and so much of me wasn't willing to be pushed.

My *life* isn't ready for this kind of challenge.  

The swim portion of the triathlon that I ultimately signed us up for, has a time limit.  That time limit puts an enormous amount of pressure on me - with only four weeks to get myself in the pool and learn how to swim 21 lengths - and I am not confident that my body is ready.  Then, I think of all the people who will be there watching...and the water splashing about with all the people in the pool...and how I'll need to share a lane with someone and make sure I don't hit her...and I think about how I might just be a mess and ask to be taken out of the pool, and how shameful I'll feel for quitting.

I've discovered that I can swim more than 21 lengths.  Physically I am strong.  Mentally I could do it, too.  And I can say so what?! to all of those obvious fears.  But, there's something that is making it especially more challenging for me, and it's spiritual.

As a good friend told me yesterday, my body is feeling what my spirit is knowing: this isn't a necessary challenge for right now.  This wasn't my choice. God didn't lead me here.

On more than a dozen occasions recently I've felt as though God is bringing me into a wilderness.  He wants me to be willing to go there with Him.  He's offering me an invitation to trust Him.  He's inviting me to say no to the external promptings, the should's, the fears of disappointing my family, and even choosing faith instead of some rational thinking.

He wants me to follow His Spirit.  Even if it doesn't seem to make sense.

So, I have this invitation.  And I need to decide what to do with it.  I know I won't be loved any less if I choose not to accept it {this time}.  I'm beginning to see that He's offered the invitation time and time and time again, and so maybe He'll offer it yet again and I can choose to accept it when it's convenient for me.  But, maybe He won't offer it again.  It's that Holy Fear that I sense now, and I am afraid to miss out on what He wants for me.

I'm not sure yet what I'll decide about the sprint triathlon - whether I'll get out of the pool and confidently say that I'm not ready {in my life} to take on this challenge, and that it isn't a challenge God has invited me to seize right now.

If I keep on and do it anyway, I know He's got my back.  And when I struggle and flail about, I can trust that He'll lead me safely.  He's got my back and He'll lead me to the side of the pool.  But, it will probably hurt more than it needs to, and if I just surrender to Him I'll feel such *freedom*.

Choose this day who you will serve.

This is a constant struggle and what life is all about.  We'll constantly have temptations and invitations from all directions.  It's intently listening, focusing on the Spirit, where we'll find *freedom* and *peace*.

I want to live in freedom and peace. 

Lord, help me to serve you, alone.

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