Surrounded

[[Picture yourself for a moment standing in the middle of a wide open field. Not a beautiful field with flowers, trees and butterflies, but an empty field with brown grass, dirt and some low hanging gloomy clouds above.

This is the field I felt I was standing in.

As I was standing in this field, I felt alone, as enemies began to march toward me. These enemies being fear, doubt, anxiety, sadness. All marching my way.

It’s taken me some time to pick up my pen again, or keyboard in this case. I love, love, love words, and therefore I love writing. But when you’re in a place like this, you feel as though you can’t set down your shield long enough to pick up your pen, so you don’t.]]

I’ve had a draft of this blog post sitting on my page since August 26th, 2018. The beginning of it typed out, but every time I went to finish it, I would stop. Either due to fear or tiredness or lack of words. But today, the Lord said to finish it because someone needs to hear it.

So instead of trying to choose all the right words and make the post flowy and beautiful, I’ve decided to just tell you the story of my wilderness battle.

About a year ago, I started questioning the goodness of God. And very quickly I went from, “God’s not good” to “is God even real.” The enemy has tried to tie shame to that statement, because working in ministry, I shouldn’t question the validity of God. And because of that shame, I kept these questions and thoughts silent. My independent and prideful character, decided I didn’t need help in this battle. That I could manage on my own and so I locked them within myself and wouldn’t let anyone see in.

Eventually, I found myself in that field. Alone, scared, sad, defeated. I couldn’t find God anywhere. I tried reading scripture, I tried praying, I would listen to worship music on repeat. I got very good at going through the motions on the outside, but on the inside, I felt stranded in the middle of a desolate field. It would take hours to fall asleep at night because my heart and mind were racing in anxious darkness. I found myself traveling down to the deepest, darkest parts of my soul, not knowing how to climb my way back out.

One night in particular, I was in my room reading Psalm after Psalm (because where else do you go when your soul is so downcast?). Again, I felt my mind traveling downward, believing lie after lie, full of panic. In that moment, I decided I had, had enough. I needed to fight back with full force, which meant I needed help.

I went to my roommates and through the tears, as best as I could, I told them about the deserted field. They declared that we will fight, so they called more friends. And that night I sat in my living room surrounded by 5 of my dearest friends and we prayed. We prayed and prayed and prayed. It was the sweetest, most vulnerable moment. I remember one friend asking while we were praying, “where do you see Jesus in this?” to that I replied, I didn’t.

Although discouraged, it was her response that began to instill hope again. She sweetly responded “well that’s why you’ve got us, we can see Jesus for you until you see Him again.” I went to bed that night with peace.

As the days and weeks continued, I still continued to walk in that field. I was still scared and sad. I was still confused because I thought things would change. I brought my doubts and lies to the light, why did I still feel stuck in this desolate field?

But I continued to pray and worship. Because truthfully, that’s all I knew to do. I decided I had to choose to default to God is real. God is good. God is faithful. About two months had passed and I continued to seek counsel and prayer. I continued to worship and cry and praise and press on, even when I felt nothing.

And then it happened. I saw Jesus again. One Sunday morning, I was standing in church in the middle of worship, still, with my eyes closed. I got that image again of me standing in the middle of a wide open field, nothing to be found. But then, the image zoomed out and I saw Jesus and His angel army surrounding me in a circle. And I heard the sweet whisper, “my child, I’ve been here the whole time, fighting your battle, you just need to be still.” You see, He’s already declared victory, I just needed to be still and hand over my battle to the Lord.

My God is bigger than my fears, than my sadness, than my doubts. They don’t scared Him. He invites me to bring them to Him and hand them over. I clung to verses such as Exodus 14:14, Deuteronomy 3:22, 1 Samuel 17:47, 2 Chronicles 20:15 and listened on repeat to Surrounded and Defender. I had to constantly remind myself that God is fighting for me and the battle is already won.

This does not mean though that I do nothing. Although the war is raging, I still fight, I still worship, I still praise, I still pray and trust. I still declare victory, because victory is mine, and yours through Jesus.

I am more than six months on the other side of this wilderness story and the Lord is still faithful. I have experienced deep joy and abundant life in Him. I have experienced His presence in new and refreshing ways. I walked through pain and suffering so I could experience the depths of His goodness.

God taught me a lot during this time, but here are three things I want you to hear.

  • The battle is not yours. Therefore, don’t try to fight it alone. God gives you people to see Him, in the times you can’t.
  • There is no shame in doubt, but default to belief.
  • The empty tomb, is the promised way in the wilderness. Jesus’ resurrection is the promised streams in wastelands. In the midst of desolation and suffering, we can declare the life and victory promised to us. Hang on to that promised truth.

We all will experience suffering, you just have to choose how you will walk through it and with whom.

Although this post is vulnerable and transparent, I share it because I refuse to let the fear of shame keep me from sharing the goodness and faithfulness of my Jesus. As always, I only share to encourage. If you are in the midst of a wilderness battle, you are not alone. There is hope. There is life. There is victory.

If you’ve read my previous post, you can see the fruit and result of walking through this battle. You can see the clear shift that God had made within my heart. Because He not only is real, but He also is who He says He is, which means He is good. So, so good.

A sweet friend of mine shared this song with me and I thought it was the perfect example to express this part of my story I walked through. The video is intense, but listen to the lyrics.

Peace & Blessings,

MT.

 

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