Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Ebenezer Stone (1 Samuel 7:12)

I have written and re-written this piece; trying to walk that line between "over-sharing" and being open and honest, as well as having such a desire to shout from the rooftops what my God has done for me! 

This past year hasn't been exactly easy for me. The death of my brother shook my faith to it's very foundations. A seed of doubt was placed in my heart and in my anger, frustration, and sadness, I allowed it to grow and take root. I questioned the validity of the Bible. I doubted how I could ever have believed that Jesus died for my sins. I doubted that Christ was who he said he was. 

Once that doubt took root, fear was quick to follow. I feared that a life after death was a false hope. That once you were dead, that was it. Existence ceased. I had nightmares about death and dying that left me rattled to my core. I can't put into words the terror that held me in it's grip. I was afraid of when the next fear would overtake me. Describing it as paralyzing, complete, and overwhelming, only scratches the surface. 

In God's mercy, I continued to believe that He existed and that I was created by Him. I prayed that He would give me back my faith and stop the dreams. I knew I couldn't do either of those things on my own. The silence of God was deafening. For weeks I prayed, wondering if I would ever again know the faith I'd had when I was in my twenties. I read my Bible, hoping that God would speak to me through the words on the pages. And I prayed. I prayed that God would do something, anything. I just wanted it to end. 

About two weeks ago I read these verses:  "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 

In that moment something changed. I can't explain it other than to say something shifted. Like when you have a crick in your neck, and you stretch and it pops and there is this sense of relief. A verse that I had memorized years before came to mind: "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 

I started searching. I searched for verses that I could grab onto and recite whenever those feelings of fear or thoughts of doubts would wash over me. (The list I made is here) I found I could grit my teeth and recite those verses over and over again, until I felt the fear subside. Sometimes it took minutes, other times it took much longer. 

On Friday, in my Bible study time, I became aware that I had sinned by allowing the fear and doubt to grow. I had sinned by doubting God and His word. I had sinned by turning away from God rather than to Him, when I first started down this path. I spent some time confessing and asking forgiveness, and then thanking God that He loved me so much that He would reveal it to me. 

And then Friday night Sam and I took a trip to Maine to deliver some goats, look at some goats, and just spend some time away together. On the ride up the verse 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 came up in a song on the radio:

"So don't lose heart
Though your body's wasting away
Your soul is not
It's being remade
Day by day by day

Well, you have never met a single soul
Who didn't feel the curse's toll
Who didn't wish that death would die
Maybe that's the reason why

It hurts so bad
But it's so good to be young
And I don't want to go back
I just want to go on and on and on"

I pulled out my Bible and read it aloud. 
"Fix your eyes on what is unseen. What is unseen is eternal." 

I can't explain it. I can't describe it. But in that moment I knew! I knew that Jesus was God's son. That only God could overcome death. Only God could fix the sins of this world. Jesus suffered death so I wouldn't have to. Instead of crashing waves of fear washing over me, I had gentle waves of reassurance. I wish I had better words to describe it. 

I now have an assurance of my salvation that is deeper and stronger than I have ever known before. It is nothing that I did. It is something God did for me. And now I can sing with a new joy:

"Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
  1. Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
  2. My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
  3. It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul."

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