me. I can be sitting there with my coffee, all peaceful and reading the Bible or some devotional writing and all of a sudden, there… he… is… All up in my face about me not being like this or that, should be better at whatever, blah blah blah. He is the OPPOSITE of an encourager!
When we read or hear scriptures, from our own reading or a message at church or even a conversation with a friend, it is supposed to speak to us (that's what makes is alive). It’s from hearing it that we actually grow. The Spirit guides us in all truth (John 16:13); it’s His job.
So sometimes, I will sit there and ponder what I have just read or heard. I’ll mull it around in my brain and let it sink into my heart. Sometimes it’s like this refreshing coolness on a hot day, sometimes it’s this sense of peace that fills my body, sometimes it’s confirmation on something which makes me happy… and other times it’s conviction that something needs to change.
While in the book of Acts, in chapter 3, I was reading about Peter and John going up to the temple and coming across the beggar, crippled from birth. Peter declared him healed in the name of Jesus, pulled him up on his feet and the man began to walk. But not only was he able to walk... He was leaping and praising God too!!!
I'm stopping there… that’s the point where my pondering started…
I’ve had a relationship with Jesus for many, many years… but how much do I leap and praise, I wondered??? It’s been a very up and down process, spending a LOT of time learning the hard way, not actively seeking a relationship with God but more what He could give me – you know – emergency, bargaining type prayers kind of thing… It’s been a slow growth, which I take full responsibility for and I’ve wasted a lot of time… And it's not like I can go back and undo it all… but I sit here even now, even as a committed Christian today with this burning desire to get closer to and know Jesus better, and wonder how much leaping and praising do I REALLY do?
And so the first bit and the last bit… the leaping and praising… that was conviction… I need to do more of that and certainly God deserves a WHOLE lot more of that from me!!
But the rest???
It’s that ‘that voice’ in my head… And it sounds like 'you've wasted so much of your life! God can't use you now!' Or 'If only you were a better Christian' or 'if you were closer to God then (fill in the blank)'. I can hear it loud and clear! It's negative; it reminds me of all I'm not; it wants to drag me down... It's not nice and it's NOT God!!
It took years for me to actually understand that usually our biggest battles are right before our biggest breakthroughs. And for too many years I fought that voice and I lost to that voice.
I fought without weapons or wisdom. I fought a losing battle because I was unarmed, unprepared, and unaware. Worse still, I had already experienced so much pain that giving up was often easier than fighting. It was me against him, and many times as soon as I gave up he left me alone. But he always came back… just about the time when I was about to grow in some aspect of my life... he was back… same old messages… you’re no good, you can’t do this, who do you think you are… always!
But today, knowing better, and literally seeing growth in myself thanks to that voice, I can say to ‘that voice’… You know what? You're right. My life isn't as leaping and praising as it should be. Thank you Jesus for the conviction! Thank you Lord that you are awesome! Forgive me for my lack of praise and leaping! I'm going to do something about that!
And in THAT instant, as soon as I take those thoughts captive (2 Cor 10:5), I have disarmed the enemy! His power over my lack of leaping and praising is gone. And it's turned it around to an increase in leaping and praising Jesus!
KNOW that God NEVER condemns you!! You are never a waste of space and you have never wasted too much time. He will always lift you out of wherever you are and work with you as you are. USE the name of Jesus and seek God’s word on everything. You are not alone in the battle.