For the time will come when
they will not endure sound doctrine;
but wanting to have their ears tickled,
they will accumulate for themselves teachers
in accordance to their own desires,
and will turn away their ears from the truth
and will turn aside to myths.
—2 Timothy 4:3–4
Just last night, I had one of the telephone calls that would normally have left me shaken for days or even weeks. My sister basically “lost it” when I got in the way of what she was desperate to do. The conversation ended with her yelling profane and unkind words into the phone before hanging up on me.
When it was over, I was amazed to find myself perfectly calm. Since she is my older sister, I could easily remember how this used to affect me. I have the personality that I long and work toward peace; I used to find peace at any cost. But my focus has changed from seeking peace with others to seeking peace with God and not worrying about what others say or trying to please them. My life with the Lord has been an incredible journey for me that has brought about incredible rewards. My desire in this chapter is to get you prepared to also take your own incredible journey with the Lord that goes well beyond freedom and leads, again, to your Abundant Life!
What kept me in peace when those words were hurled at me (and many others that preceded my sister’s finale) was in knowing how my Lord and Husband felt about me. So that when any and all major situations arise such as this, going to Him immediately after (as I did the first time she called) or even right in the midst of the attack, I find peace. The Lord has taught me to ask Him what HE thinks of me or how HE feels about me, which I did when she hung up.
What HE said was vastly different than what I heard on the telephone. In addition to finding peace, I love how God actually has a sense of humor and His calmness, which most of us lack when we are in the midst of crisis. The Lord actually said, “Are you kidding?” when I asked Him if what she said was true. God also set up a “way of escape” by having someone call right in the midst of the first attack, which gave me time to ask my close friend to please pray (without sharing any details since this also comes with unwanted and unasked for advice). What was also part of God’s plan so that I would not focus on the problem after she hung up; I instead needed to return my previous call, which resulted in my friend praying with me to bless my sister.
It used to be that I felt I “owed” it to my problem or to my enemy, to meditate on the problem and at least suffer through it a bit before releasing it! What nonsense. Now, due to being His bride, I keep all problems as far away from my heart and emotions as I am able to do as the Lord helps me. When insults or attacks are hurled at me, I separate myself emotionally and hide behind my Beloved and His love. So if you are experiencing an emotional attack right now, stop listening (and also by you repeating it over and over in your head) to what he or she said, and instead tune into what the Lord is saying to you.
If you are not at the place where you can hear God, hear the Lord speaking to you, then go to the Bible and read what He thinks of you. Keep reading until you find that peace that surpasses all understanding. And while searching, be sure to ask Him, “Is this what you think of me?” God will speak truth, but it will be up to you who you will listen to!
Most of us are more comfortable with knowing how to live and respond in unhappy or uncomfortable situations due only because we have done it more often. So, instead of letting a situation go, and meditating on how good God is and how much the Lord loves us, we choose to recount and replay unkind words. Much of what we learned came from our childhood and the lies we believed then, and sadly, choose to believe as adults rather than choosing to believe the truth. What is the truth? God is truth, His word is truth, and anything that doesn’t line up with Him and His truth is nothing but a lie.
While on my last tour of meeting many of our church’s missionaries and even RMI members who live in other parts of the world, I met women on the east coast and Canada, and I couldn’t help but laugh by one comment that so many members expressed. Their first surprise at meeting me was how tall I am. But the second was that I was “so beautiful.” The irony of this is that ALL of my life I was told by my family that I was NOT pretty, but instead was blessed with a good or outgoing personality. This never damaged me in any way, but instead kept me focused on who I was on the inside rather than worrying about what I was told I was not on the outside.
When I married my FH, he was beside himself when he heard my family’s opinion about my looks. One day, early in our marriage, I mentioned to my mother that he actually thought I was the prettiest of my sisters, to which she responded, “How sweet . . . love is so blind.” Honestly, it must have been God all along who protected me from being scarred or damaged from these kinds of words, since I know that there are many of you who do suffer from what was said to you about your looks as a child. Though this did not do the damage as the enemy intended, what they said about my character did, probably since this is all that I thought I had. So when my sister attacked my character, it “had the potential” to really do harm.
One of our members told me (when I asked why she didn’t smile for a picture we took that day) that her father told her never to smile, since she “looked stupid when she smiled.” It was clear that she has never asked the Lord how HE felt about her beautiful smile, but instead has remained locked in a prison by believing a lie that was planted many years ago.
And reasoning or looking at the facts will never release you from what has been said to you in your past. No matter how many times my FH told me that I was pretty, coupled with the “fact” that for three years the Lord had my family (including ME) involved in a series of commercials, billboards, and brochures as (would you believe?) models, I never thought for a minute that I was pretty. It was only when my Beloved told me so that I believed that I was beautiful to HIM—since that is all that matters to me!
You may not be what our society believes is beautiful, but there is no doubt that is the way He feels about you! What society believes is pretty changes all the time, so why fixate ourselves and our feelings on something that changes— just as clothing styles change? It is not only foolish for us to get caught up in this menagerie of popular opinion, but it is also very dangerous since our daughters, and all the younger women in our lives will begin to do the same due to our example.
This does not mean that we are not to do anything to help us feel pretty. When we feel we look pretty, we act differently. That is why we need to go to God, again, and ask Him what He thinks of us. When we embrace the fact that God created us perfectly, then we will have the confidence to begin to dress and pamper ourselves accordingly. Yes, it can get way out of balance, especially if our looks are all we care about and concentrate on. But to neglect them is to try to fool ourselves into thinking we should never care about our outward appearance. If how we looked didn’t matter, then God would not have told us how beautiful Sarah was (attracting a Pharaoh at her age still blows me away!) or Queen Esther, and how handsome David and Joseph were.
Some women are secure about their how they look, but are instead plagued with other issues like being told they were stupid or uncoordinated or will always be fat because they are like their mother or grandmother who was overweight. None of this needs to keep you from the abundant life Jesus died to give you. You can free yourself from the prison that has you bound when you stop listening to the lies from your past (or present situation) and then begin, instead, to ask the Lord for HIS opinion. It is the truth that will set us free! So when our Husband tells us that we are beautiful or intelligent (because we have the mind of Christ) then we must stop speaking the old lies and begin walking in faith with our newly found truth.
When we choose to believe a myth, which is defined as a falsehood, we keep ourselves from our abundant life. Our family, friends, or husband may have planted the lie, but when we continue to believe it, we are the one doing the watering that keeps the lie alive.
There are also other dangers in listening to voices other than God’s voice. We know from scripture that Saul lost his crown by listening to the voices of the people when they encouraged him to disobey God (read 1 Samuel 15:24). The young prophet lost even more by losing his life when he listened to the voice of the old prophet who invited him to dine with him instead of doing what God had told him (read 1 Kings 13:11-32).
Where would Jerusalem be if Nehemiah had succumbed to the mocking and had listened to the voices of the church leaders who wanted him to stop the rebuilding efforts of the walls and to come down to talk to them about it? (read Nehemiah 6:1-9)
All of us need to learn to listen to and obey God’s voice above anyone else’s, including our own. This begins with our day-to-day living and not just for the important decisions we make. And what will continue complicating our ability to hear and obey God’s voice are all the opinions that we are hearing from everyone around us, all because WE foolishly tell them what we are doing or about to do!
Let me confess that this has been the hardest lesson that I have yet to learn in my life! It seems almost daily that I foolishly share something in my life that I should have remained quiet about. We women love to share our lives with others, but I am not sure I am willing to suffer because of it any longer.
Recently, I have been hit with a major trial in my life dealing with my oldest sister who is about 14-years-old mentally but only about 4-years-old emotionally, who is turning 65 this year. One of my other sisters had been her caregiver and called right before I left for a two-week tour insisting that I had to “take her.” This is what instigated the hurled words I spoke of at the beginning of the chapter. However, I knew I couldn’t have her here when I was traveling because I never told her that my husband had left again. It was in my ignorance and foolishness that I then shared the situation with some of my other siblings after I heard from God what I was to do. Are you surprised that what my siblings told me to do did not match up with what God told me to do?
This, then, created a current I had to swim against that made following God’s plan much more difficult! Some of the difficulty stemmed from them questioning what I was planning to do next since all of the “suggestions” (that are normally, in my family, stated as orders) began to mingle with God’s direction for what He wanted me to do.
The realization that I did not have to share my present situation of my recent divorce (and all the details that others expect for you to explain) came from the testimonies of RMI members who wisely remained quiet about their situations in their marriages (separation, their husband’s adultery, and even their divorce). And due to them not sharing details of their lives, they were able to hear God more clearly and also to follow His lead without the confusion or opposition when family or well-meaning friends would have become involved. It also gave them time to deal with their own loss (of a husband or their marriage) and all the emotions that go along with it. Then later, when their family did “find out” they were able to deal with their family member’s anger much more easily since they were stable (on the Rock).
Though I had followed this wisdom with my divorce this time, I continue to fail in other crises and just some of the day-to-day decisions that I face. It is clear that there is much more to a “gentle and quiet spirit” that I have yet to learn. When we “ponder things in our hearts” like Mary (the mother of Jesus) did, then our thoughts are all ours to seek God about and to be able to follow or deal with—with His help. We do not need to add to it other people’s opinions or emotions that get in the way and often leave us confused, defeated, or simply tired.
It is my heart’s desire to seek God more for this freedom as He gives me an even greater ability to remain silent and share things only with Him. This goes for giving more information than is necessary when speaking to people. In other words, I know that I need more discretion in my life. All of my recent problems, I know now, stem from my mouth and what I say. Very often, the area that we are the most anointed in, which in my life is my ability to speak, is also our greatest downfall; therefore, I personally need to turn it over totally to the leading of the Lord and the Holy Spirit.
Dear friend, whatever you are struggling with (your lack of discretion, your mouth, your emotions, or any other areas that you are dealing with), your Bridegroom wants to help you with it. He never wants you to struggle by carrying burdens that you have picked up or encumbrances someone has dumped on you. Instead, pass them to Him to carry for you. This will leave your arms open wide to embrace Him with the appreciation and love He deserves and is longing to receive from you!