Sunday, April 20, 2014

Recognizing the Hand of the Lord

I am currently reading "Release of the Spirit" by Watchman Nee

Discipline is plentiful in many lives, but recognizing the hand of the Lord during those years of discipline is rare indeed.  ~Watchman Nee, Release of the Spirit

A little over 4 years ago the Lord put two very precious ladies in my life, one of which pressed in with me personally to address matters of my heart, essentially disciplining me.  I began to learn things that resonated with my spirit and that began to change my view of the Lord, which in turn changed my relationship with Him for the better forever.  Through our discussions I came to realize something that was new to me then, even though I had gone to church most all of my life… I came to realize that the Holy Spirit corrects and instructs us in things big and small… if we will listen, if we will let Him.  I remember that moment of all of a sudden recognizing the Holy Spirit’s voice in my past for the first time.  Several memories flooded through, revealing that He had been there with me all the days of my life, but I did not recognize Him, I did not "know" His voice.

Two main memories stood out… 

The first memory was during a pivotal time in my life.  As a young adult I had been living fully in my own power, living life for all the fun I could find for myself and I was hitting bottom fast and feeling very miserable in my soul.  I remember the evening very well, it was a moment where I was contemplating ending the misery and loneliness and I had the means to do so in the palm of my hand.  Something made me stop and put things away.  It was not long after that, that my life began to take another direction as I found I was tired of and no longer satisfied with the life of the self-indulging entertainment filled life I had been living.  When that memory and then the realization flooded into my mind that what stopped me was the Lord… He literally saved my life that night.  The gratitude flooded my heart.  My heart was ever so touched by His love for me.

The second memory that stood out strong to me was an afternoon with my 2nd born who was about 3 or 4 years old at the time.  She was in the middle of a screaming crying meltdown, and I was at my wits end as none of my efforts to appease her or control her had worked to this point… and this was a frequent occurrence.  I remember feeling flustered and just didn’t know what to do, I don’t specifically remember praying, but I remember that a very strong thought overcame me, a thought that didn’t make sense and actually contradicted all the “human” wisdom within me.  I didn’t want to do it, but I did it anyway… I scooped up my screaming crying little girl and hugged her.  Her screaming and crying softened to a wimper and she melted right into me and we hugged for the longest time.  I didn’t know it at the time, but that strong thought that overcame me was the Lord teaching me how to love my daughter, causing me to meet her need in the moment.  It would take me so many more years of muddling through these fits, first trying to control her out of it until I would finally give in and scoop her up.  I never once considered that the Lord was helping me or wanted to help me more with my parenting through all of that.

My dear daughter was 13 when I met with my dear new friend for the second time.  Somehow our conversation got on the topic of my daughter’s anger and I was explaining how proud I was that she was learning to manage her fits better.  This dear friend asked me a simple, yet profound question… she asked me, “Do you want your daughter to control her sin or be free of it?”  DOH!  Who wouldn't want freedom from sin?  Is that really possible?  The idea of becoming “free” of sin resonated deep within my heart and I wanted that more than ever for my dear sweet daughter. 

I remember previously reading scripture relating that we ought to be free of sin, and because it wasn’t something I saw around me I remember being confused and therefore brushing these scriptures aside.  All of a sudden, scripture began to open up to me in a new way.  I began this new journey of learning what it means to love like Christ loves and to listen to the Holy Spirit, to hear Him speak to my conscience correct me and instruct me.  I began to seek Him, asking Him to help me see how I sin against my children, asking Him to show me what to stop doing and what I need to begin doing.  I began to see that “offense” was HUGE in my life, and that I needed to give it up. 

I had been going to church nearly all my life and I have heard many sermons on forgiveness and yet, for the first time, Christ-like forgiveness began to take on a whole new meaning and bring "life" into my life and that of my family.  I saw that I had passed the spirit of “offense” and “anger” to my daughter.  The Lord showed me that “I” needed to begin to repent to my family for my sins against them.  I made many mistakes, with pride being strong within me I held back (in the flesh) at times…  it was hard and painful, and the internal battle was strong… my flesh was in the fight of it’s life…  thankfully, there was just enough desire for the Lord in my heart to give Him something to work with and within a few months the Lord did a miracle.  I call it the first miracle the Lord did for our family.  I noticed my daughter was no longer having screaming fits, no longer stomping down the hall and slamming the door, no longer tearing her bedroom apart.  My husband also noticed something new was going on.  We asked her about it.  Her response was, “I just don’t feel angry anymore.”  Now, this doesn't mean she doesn't ever get angry any more, but she doesn't feel that “out of control” anger she once did on a fairly regular basis.  When she gets angry now, she is able to talk about what is going on inside of her and we work out together what she can do in each specific situation to relate in love the next time and she is willing to repent when it's necessary.  Our conversations about her anger are calm and include lots and lots of hugs and squeezes.  She is now 17 and I am so delighted in her and am so grateful to the Lord for rescuing my daughter and rescuing a relationship that was leading toward death and destruction.

There is SO MUCH that has happened in the past few years since this new beginning.  It’s been a process of increased recognition of the Lord’s voice and His discipline in my daily life.  I know there is so much more growth needed and there are things I do not recognize yet that He will help me to recognize when He knows I am ready.  My heart is so filled with gratitude that the Lord just doesn’t let us go, that He didn’t let me go when I didn’t know His voice and that His patience with me is tireless and endless. I am ever so grateful to be able to recognize the Lord's voice and say “Lord, thank you for loving me so much.  Yes, Lord, YES I am willing to obey!”  I am so grateful to be able to recognize the discipline of the Lord and boy am I aware of the work He is doing each and every day within my heart.  He is quite busy.

I would like to note that the Lord used the Lifestyle of Learning™ ministry as a large part of my growth in parenting and growth in gaining my daughter's heart along with my other children.  I like to give credit to this ministry every chance I get for leading me to know the Lord in a newer and deeper way that changed the course of our family.  
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