How Would You Change If You Knew What Your Future Held?

If you knew you were going to die in 4 years 5 months 3 days and 2 hours and 1 minute, how would you change your life? What would you do differently than you presently do? What if you could see your future 20 years from now – what you would be doing, what you would look like – what would you change in your life now?

I had an epiphany that slowly crept up on me this week. I was unexplicably happy, despite my weight gain. I was dancing a little, smiling and joking. I felt freer and more at peace.  I didn’t realize it was because I had given up all hope – on being “thin and pretty”, my previous life goal.

That meant I could enjoy food and not feel like I was ruining my life.  It meant I didn’t have to kill myself with anxiety over what size clothes I wear and whether the scale went up or down.  I could stop agonizing over what other people may say about me. Why?  Because I had given up all hope on achieving my very carnal dream, and it was like setting a prisoner free from a cage.

It’s hard to give up on a dream, although we have all had to do that throughout our lives. Some of our dreams change, some remain the same, but some dreams simply have to be released, especially if they are not healthy for us. If those dreams keep us in anxiety and emotional stress, they are not God’s dream for us.  They are our own dream for us, or maybe a family member’s dream for us that we have accepted as our own.

Most of our dreams are attached to needs to be loved, accepted and approved of by others. It is an elusive desire for many of us, since the ones who raised us didn’t receive it from their parents so couldn’t give it to us, and neither could the broken partners we chose for ourselves.   But if our dream includes earning others’ love and acceptance by our actions or our appearance, there is a very good chance God will NOT help you achieve that dream.  Unhealthy dreams lead us to chase ghosts that don’t exist instead of seeking the Lord.

Furthermore, if these dreams do not make us more like Jesus, but more like the world, we are doing ourselves a disservice.  We are setting ourselves up for more disappointment and hurt, because the world will never meet our needs. We will be like dogs chasing our tails.

But when we accept God’s will and God’s plan for us where we are, and even for the future, there is peace and joy unending.  God can sovereignly bring us love, joy and peace apart from our dream, so we don’t have to cling to dreams that will never come true. Then, we can cling to him instead.

So what unhealthy dream are you holding on to that is not of God? What desire of your heart makes you chase after the world, the people and the things in it instead of the things of the Lord? Ask God to reveal them to you and ask Him to help you see why it is your dream, and what God wants you to do instead of chasing that dream. He will give you the desires of your heart (love, joy, peace and righteousness) if you will let Him do it His way and not yours.

Actively Seeking His Peace

Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to Yahweh for it; for in the peace of it shall you have peace. (Jer 29:7)

I know that this passage of scripture is speaking to the Israelites who have been taken captive in a foreign city, but God spoke to me about this in regard to times in our lives when we are captives of situations and emotions we cannot escape. It is possible to seek God’s peace in whatever situation you find yourself.

It might be a work situation that is causing you stress or that is unfulfilling. It might be a relationship that is hard or does not meet your expectations, or simply the delayed realization of your hopes and dreams. It could be the result of physical or emotional trauma in your life, the consequences of which you still struggle with every day.

Peace means being at one with someone or something. Being at one with the situation means accepting what has happened to you instead of fighting it, and deciding you are going to move on in spite of what happened. People get stuck obsessing over the past so they never move toward a better future. Yes, bad things happened to you, but what are you going to do NEXT?

Being at one with God means abiding in Him and not struggling against His allowed will. It means accepting His plan and purpose, trusting His will and His ways, resting in His goodness and mercy, and moving forward in His power and wisdom. It means building up your faith so you CAN trust and rest in Him and access His peace.

His is the peace that passes all understanding, it is the peace that is completely unlike the peace that the world gives. His peace is inexplicable, powerful, and is not affected by circumstances. The world’s peace is fickle and faltering, and can change as soon as the situation changes. But it will not just fall upon you – you must make an effort to seek His peace.

1. In what areas of your life are you lacking peace and need to consciously SEEK peace?
2. What specifically do you need to do in order to obtain His peace?

What I Learned This Week: 15 Minutes with Papa Helps You Sleep

I had been having trouble sleeping – going to sleep and staying asleep.  My mind was on overload at night, trying to figure out things which were completely out of my control, as if brainstorming would suddenly make everything out of God’s timing and His will magically appear.  And then I started listening to a Christian counselor speak on Codependency.

The bottom line was that Codependency is our futile attempt to fill our very empty love tanks by doing more to please others, believing that who we are AS WE ARE is not enough for others to love us, and that includes God.  The only cure for Codependency is to realize that others cannot and will never be able to meet our needs for love, and that only God can.  If we redirected a fraction of the time we spent chasing love and validation from others into spending time simply being in the Father’s presence and letting Him love on us, we would experience a remarkable change in our lives.

Well, never one to back down from a spiritual challenge, I decided to try it – 15 minutes just spent in the Father’s presence before I go to sleep.  One of the things I have started imagining is the Father coming to my bedside to tuck me in, to love on me, to just let me know how happy He is that I am His daughter, and how proud He is of me, just as I am.

You see, a big breakthrough I have had in His presence is finally understanding that He can’t be disappointed in who I am because He made me, knowing full well what my problems would be, and how I would end up. He STILL decided to make me just as I am.  How I turned out is no surprise or disappointment to Him – only an apparent disappointment to me and some others in my life who don’t think I’m what they think I should be.  Simply soaking up unconditional love in His presence and His loving adoration of the person He created and the child He adopted has given me such peace that I am now able to drift away to sleep easily.

Have you ever had a long distance boyfriend?  After you’ve spoken with them on the phone, or had a loving email or text from them, don’t you feel like you are on cloud nine?  They don’t even have to be there with you – just knowing someone loves you as you are makes all the world right and gives you an assurance you always dreamed of.

It’s the same way with our relationship with Papa (I love using that name now after seeing “The Shack”). Just knowing that my Papa loves me just as I am, purposely made me this way, and is on my side, allowing only what is best for me, withholding what is not best for me, I can finally relax.  His timing is best, His provision is best, His direction is best, so I can rest instead of trying to figure everything out, as if it all depended on my provision, direction and timing.

We are so quick to take the world, our future, and even other people’s futures onto our shoulders that we completely forget that we are trapped in time, and nothing God has for us is going to happen faster than God has allowed in our lives.  We are always trying to “figure things out” when what God wants is for us to so implicitly trust in His timing, provision and direction (regardless of what the world would say about that) that we can float through the day knowing our Papa, who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, will provide for whatever He knows we need whenever He knows we need it.

So I encourage you to spend just 15 minutes in His presence every day.  No lights, no sound, no worship music, no bible.  Just His presence and His rhema (spoken to you through the Spirit) words of love, His affirmations of His child and creation.   You don’t have peace because you don’t really believe He will take care of it.  You don’t trust Him to take care of it because you really don’t know how much He loves you, just as you are.

And once you KNOW you are loved just as you are by someone, everyone else’s opinion of you doesn’t matter any more.  I hated looking in the mirror before, but now He has encouraged me to say out loud to myself, “You are beautiful just as you are.  You are wonderful.”  And guess what, I’m coming to believe it, because He said it was true.  You can revolutionize every aspect of your life by just spending 15 minutes with Him alone before you go to bed.  Try it tonight.

Your sister in Christ,




Peace, Peace, Wonderful (Elusive) Peace

When all is said and done, what we want is peace. No more struggle, no more striving, no more feeling broken, no more hurting, no more doubting, no more anything – we have everything we need and can finally rest.  We want to relax and let go and not worry or fear. Peace is everything.
Luckily for Christians, Jesus can actually give us peace that is not dependent upon circumstances or our current status. He doesn’t give as the world does, which is transitory peace. He gives lasting peace in the midst of troubles and despite fear.
John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Jesus knew that in this world there will always be trouble, disturbances of the peace, unfulfilled longings and desires, and sometimes unmet needs. But He put His Spirit in Christians, and peace is a fruit of the Spirit. It is always available for us to tap into, as long as we are abiding in the vine and connected to His life. So why don’t we access and live in this peace?
John 16:33
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
1 John 5:4
for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
Jesus’s peace can be accessed only by faith.  Our simple faith that God is still in control, that God is good, and that His will still will be done in our lives gives us access into that peace.  It isn’t an intelligence or a mind thing, like you talk yourself down out of panic mode. No, faith gives us access to ALL the fruit of the Spirit, including peace.
Luke 7:50
Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Luke 8:48
Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
When we are robbed of our peace, and we seem lost in the world and cannot find our way, when the future seems dark and scary, and we are grasping all around to find something to hold on to that will anchor us, or at least make us feel less afraid for a while, all it takes to break that moment is one true, small statement of faith.
“You are good, God.”
“I believe in You, God.”
“I trust You, God.”
“I know You love me, God.”
It is not magic, and it is not mind control.  It is the supernatural effect of faith on a war-torn, embattled soul.  When we wander away in doubt, or simply forget to trust in Him, we cut ourselves off from the life-giving flow of God’s Spirit that enables the fruit of the Spirit to blossom in our life.
You don’t have to have all the answers, or find all the solutions to the endless array of problems in your life. You simply need to meet each episode with a small statement of faith, and CLING to it with all your might. Say it over and over again, until you believe it, and use the sword of God’s Word as an offensive as well as a defensive weapon against the enemy’s attack on your faith.
Peace can be had, but it cannot be stored – like manna, that went bad if you didn’t eat it that day (or on the Sabbath).  You only get peace in the present, not enough for the future. But His peace is enough for the moment to carry you through.

Where Does Peace Come From?

Jn 14:27
27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.

We may each think we want or need something different – more money, better job, friends, better health, better marriage, but I suggest we all really want the same thing – to be at peace. I believe that we all think that once we attain or obtain what we think is missing in our lives, we will finally be at peace, and happy. Why?

Because then we won’t be struggling and always wanting something we don’t have. We will not entertain thoughts that are divided – split between our yearning for God and waiting upon His will and our yearning to obtain for ourselves what we don’t have. Our lives will not be the slave of our fears and troubles, because we will trust God to handle what is out of our control. The peace that Jesus gives is rest, absence of struggling, and being set at one again – no divided mind wanting what it doesn’t have.

So how does the Bible say we get peace? Let’s look at different scriptures and see what we can learn by combining the truth from all of them, because the truth never contradicts itself.

Rom 8:6
6 For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace.

Rom 15:13
13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Isa 26:3
3 You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You.

To be spiritually-minded means to have thoughts and purposes that are related to what the Spirit wants. To be carnally-minded means to have thoughts and purposes focused on what the flesh wants. So when we are focused on earthly things that we don’t have but want, it divides our attention from God, and we become double-minded.

It leads us to always be struggling and striving in our own power to obtain what we perceive to be missing from our life, instead of just trusting God for everything. We are neither at rest nor at one with ourselves – we are torn. When we focus on what the spirit wants, we single-mindedly strive to hear and obey God, and the result is peace.

Peace comes from believing in and relying on God, and results in hope in God for the future. As long as we are relying on ourselves to “get” for ourselves, instead of trusting and receiving from God, we will not experience peace. This can only be done by relying daily on God’s empowering grace in our lives.

Penny Haynes

How Is Your Peace?

I was researching the word peace in Jer. 29:11, and found it to be “shalom”. I read up on it and found that in Israel today, they have a greeting that consists of saying, “How is your peace?” That really hit home with me. How is MY peace?

Several other meanings for shalom include in tranquillity, at ease and unconcerned. Hmmmmmm, I spend my days and nights being concerned about everything and trying to figure out how to handle it all. All that thinking makes me NOT at ease, or tranquil. What did Jesus say about not being concerned about what we will eat or drink or wear? No, this worry robs me of peace.

It also signifies a state in which someone can feel at ease, comfortable with another person. How many of us are no longer comfortable with ourselves, much less at ease with others? The isolation which depression brings cuts us off from others, leaving us feeling like there is something wrong with us, so we feel uncomfortable being with others. Plus, the stigma of depression in the church makes us feel even more uncomfortable in our own skin, affecting our ability to feel peace.

Shalom also refers to harmonius relationships. It is hard to experience harmonious relationships when you are scared to death of being around people. Plus, when we have relational problems at work or at home, that steals our peace as well.

Shalom can also refer to our welfare. How many of us deal with medical-related issues that make us feel less than whole? Constant pain as a companion can make us feel emotionally and mentally crippled as well, and without a break in the pain, it is hard to relax and be at ease.

Shalem is the Hebrew verb for peace, meaning to be complete, be sound. How many of us feel broken and incomplete, like people and circumstances have left us with holes in our souls and spirit? How can we feel whole when we can’t seem to pull ourselves together to get out of bed, or leave the house, or spend time with others?

Yet the covenant God has made with believers is a covenant of peace, prophesied all the way back to Isaiah. Our Messiah is a Prince of Peace. He has promised us peace, but not as the world gives. His peace that He gives passes all understanding, because it comes from trusting in Him.

That is how we can be unconcerned for the things we think we must scramble to obtain in order to survive, because we rest in the fact that He says He will provide them for us because of our faith in Him (not just because of our need for them). Our peace can come from our harmonious relationship with Him, instead of from relationships with others (although we need to establish and work on human relationships). We can have peace also through the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual healing God can bring for our welfare.

Finally, our completeness can come from being IN Him and He being in us. Everything we are not, He is – through His Spirit in us. We are more than just the sum of our broken parts – we are vessels of the Holy Spirit who fills us and fills those holes in our souls.

I want to experience peace, a lack of strife and struggling, harmonious relationships, unconcerned for things I have no control over and for which Jesus has promised to provide. I want to feel whole and unbroken, without emotional, mental and physical pain, and I will need to receive that by faith directly from Him. Peace will only come when I am in a completely trusting relationship with Him.

So, how is YOUR peace?

Penny Haynes

There Is Rest In God’s Presence

Exo 33:14
14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.

I hate driving in downtown Atlanta. It has a lot of one way streets. Take a wrong turn, and you could be wandering through the maze of streets for what seems like forever.

I used to get sick at the thought of going there, panicked because I didn’t know where I was going. But THEN God said “Let there be GPS”, and it was good! All of a sudden, I had someone with me who knew exactly where to go and when to turn, and this machine gave me true rest. Why? Because I was no longer alone and trying to figure it all out by myself.

So much of our stress in life is caused by being in situations where we have no control and no idea how things will turn out. The unknown freaks us out more than we consciously acknowledge. Imagine knowing that someone else who knows the future and also knows where you are to go and what you are to do accompanies you everywhere. They may sit in the driver’s seat silently while you whine and cry, but they still get you where you need to be, and later you realize you made a fuss unnecessarily.

How much of our life do we spend as if God is our Co-pilot, when in reality, He should be the one flying the plane? If I ride in the car with my husband and I don’t know how to get where we’re going, that doesn’t freak me out. I trust that he is capable of getting me where I am going. Why don’t I do that with God?

One day, I hope I evolve to the point where I am not worrying about my clothes or food or bills, but enjoy the here and now with which He has blessed me. I want to be able to rest in His presence right now, where I am. I want to be able to let go of my tight grip on my demands for the future, which essentially leaves my hands too full to receive the blessings of today. However, I can only do this if I remember He is always with me.

Penny Haynes

Anger vs. Peace

Isa 32:17-18
17 And the work of righteousness shall be peace;
and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
18 And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation,
and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;

Righteousness is supposed to equal peace. So where have we gone wrong? Where is our peace? Why are we so angry, or even just frustrated and annoyed?

Righteousness comes from putting our faith and trust in God. When we trust someone completely, we feel comfortable about their decisions. It is like letting someone who you know is a good driver take the wheel so you can enjoy the scenery or go to sleep. Our actions (like going to sleep in the above example) prove our trust and faith in the person, just as it says in James 2:18 (I will show you my faith from my works). So when we are not in peace, we are not trusting God for something.

Heb 13:5-6 says:
5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

We get anxious or angry when things either do not or may not go the way we want them. We start focusing or obsessing about what we cannot have or do, and our general contentment goes out the window. Our words (complaints or even jokes) can be a sure sign that we are unhappy about something, and it sours our attitude toward the rest of our life.

Notice how the fact that Jesus will never leave us or forsake us is supposed to help us deal with our discontent. He is our helper, we are not (as we erroneously think) alone in this situation. We don’t have to fear or be anxious about whatever is (or is not) going on, and what man may or may not do to me. However, we stay angry as long as we rigidly demand that things go our way.

So peace comes from being content with what we have at this moment. That doesn’t mean we don’t want the situation to change and get better. It means coming to terms with our present circumstances as they are, and trusting that God knows what is going on, is still watching over us, and still has our best interest in mind. We don’t have to pretend our situation is good – call a spade a spade – but we have to make the conscious decision that we will continue to trust in God’s existence and goodness.

Sometimes (or most of the time?) we may need to ask God to increase our faith, especially if we want to go one step further and hope that life will one day get better. But if we want peace and not anxiety, fear and anger, we must find a way to trust Him in the midst of our painful situations. Maybe you need to imagine Him driving a car with you in the passenger seat to make it real for you. In any case, we will experience disappointment and things not going our way for the rest of our lives. Don’t you think we should find a way to live in peace all the while?

Penny Haynes

What The Heck Am I Really Looking For?

I was looking through some older lessons I had saved in my file.  I used to be a fanatical bible student who created lessons from everything I studied.  This one was called “Why Do We Continue Sinning?”, but as I reviewed it, I thought it fit another question for those of us dealing with depression: “What the heck am I really looking for?”  Obviously, we are all discouraged because something is missing, but rarely can we figure out what that thing is that is causing us these feelings.

There is one section of the study that says, “So, what do we want?” This is what it says:

We think we want things and people: money, power, authority, material goods, relationships, acceptance, admiration, physical pleasure, etc.  But these objects are not the end of our goal, they are actually the MEANS to acquiring what we really want.

So what do we really want?

Isa 54:10-17 KJV: For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.  O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay they foundations with sapphires.  And I will make thy windows of agates and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.  And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.  In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee… No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.  This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

Isa 55 KJV:  Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness…For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace…Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

What we really want is satisfaction, the satisfaction that comes from peace and results in joy.  Now, saved and unsaved people want these same things to find satisfaction – peace and joy.  However, unsaved people only know the kind of shallow, temporary satisfaction, peace and joy that they can get for themselves through those things we previously mentioned. Fleshly satisfaction is the only kind of satisfaction that we knew for many, many years.  We didn’t even know there was any other source for satisfaction, peace and joy.  (The Woman at the well did not know there was any other type of water available for her.)

Does God want us to have satisfaction that comes from peace and results in joy? Yes.  God created us with a need for those things.  Imagine a place where everything is “right with the world” – no more striving, no more stress, you have everything you need when you need it.  Do you know the name of that place?  The Kingdom of Heaven.  Another name for that place is the Kingdom of God, which begins right here on earth.  The Kingdom of God is within you, according to Luke 17:21.  But what is God’s definition of the Kingdom of God?

Rom 14:17 NKJV:  for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Mat 6:31 – 34 NKJV: Therefore do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek.  For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things (peace and joy – inserted by Penny) shall be added to you. 

 We’ve pursued the wrong goals – we’ve pursued the “stuff” and the activities and busy-ness, instead of directly pursuing the peace and joy God offers through this Holy Spirit.

Achieving satisfaction does not come from feeding the fleshly desires, but comes from the peace and joy found only in the Holy Spirit.  But notice the first word in the series listed above:  righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  Notice, the Kingdom of God is not just a matter of peace and joy, it is a matter of righteousness first (remember Matthew 6). What does righteousness have to do with our satisfaction?  Jesus said, in Matthew 5:6, that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be filled, or satisfied.  And what is righteousness?  Hitting the mark of trusting God for all of our needs.

How do you achieve peace, or the absence of struggling and striving? By trusting God for every area of your life. 

Isa 26:3 NKJV:  You will keep him in perfect peace Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.

Phil 4:6 NKJV:  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and mind through Christ Jesus.

Once you have the peace of God through trust in Him, the result is joy in the Holy Spirit.

Psa 5:11-12 NKJV:  But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You.  For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield.

When we do not know the peace that passes understanding, we settle for the peace that comes from satisfying the flesh.  (That’s how we spent most of our lives – thinking fleshly satisfaction was all there was.) And we will stop at nothing to satisfy the flesh, including going back to our old habits and mindsets to obtain that temporary satisfaction. I believe that our level of sanctification is in direct proportion to our level of satisfaction.

We will get angry at the things that block our fleshly satisfaction, and dejected and depressed when we fear there is no hope we will ever attain that fleshly satisfaction.

Phil 3:18-20 NKJV:  For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame; who set their mind on earthly thingsFor our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

When our desires become the god that we serve, we set our mind on earthly things to satisfy us, and become enemies of the cross of Christ.  But when we realize that our citizenship is in the Kingdom of God, we can trust God to provide for all of our need according to His riches in glory.  Then we can stop trying to satisfy ourselves outside of God’s will and timing (which is sin), and rest in His love, faithfulness and promises (which is righteousness).

Remember, the perfect peace that comes from the Prince of Peace is in exact opposition to the pseudo peace that comes from satisfying the flesh.  The peace of God comes only from faith, or trusting in God.  The false peace can only come from sin, or trusting in ourselves to get some kind of satisfaction by our own means.

We will stop sinning when we realize that we cannot possibly satisfy ourselves through anything other than trusting in God and yielding to His Holy Spirit’s leading.  We need a transformation of our mindset, where we no longer believe the lie that our flesh can fill our hunger, but understand the truth that peace and joy are the direct result of being right with God and being in the center of His will.

Ouch!  I’m preaching to myself.  My depression is directly related to my obstinate demand that my flesh and the world (and people in the world) make me feel better, satisfy me and my needs.  I actually refuse to abstain from attempting to get my needs met from the world, and then cry to God when I am depressed, when I should be REFUSING to try and get my satisfaction from the world, and simply coming to God to satisfy me.

Oh, I don’t say this is easy.  I’m so screwed up most of the time, I don’t even really know what I want, or why I’m feeling the way I feel.  However, I know that is why He has stopped me in my tracks this month.  I can’t find work. I can’t lose weight. There are no projects for me to do to make myself feel important or valuable or proud.  And I can’t eat my way out of it either – I’m on a 30 day fast without meat, dairy or grains, and I have promised to work out for an hour 5 times a week, although I hate it.  All I have now is God. And I’d better find a way to be satisfied only in Him – quick.

I don’t have all the answers, I’m just sharing with you the lessons I am learning (or re-learning) as I come to them.  I have to make the rubber meet the road somehow.  I have to disconnect from my demands of this world and my flesh, and cling solely to God.  I can’t see myself doing that, I’m such a carnal Christian right now.  I want food to make me feel better, and a project to entertain me and make me feel valuable, or at least see myself lose weight.  Pray for me, and share what is going on with you, so I can pray for you.  We will find a way through this, to a place on God’s lap, where we can be still and satisfied.

Penny Haynes

Are You Afraid Of Scripture?

Have any of you had problems turning to scripture when you are dealing with issues?  I find I avoid it, because I just don’t think I can handle it. That is VERY bad for a person who is a teacher in Bible College, however I want to be brutally honest.

I get scared of what I might find – another verse that points out my flaws and failures, exhorting me to be more than what I am right now.  I guess that is simply a satanic diversion intended to keep me away from the Word that can feed my spirit and make me stronger. Unfortunately, it has been a very successful diversion for a while.

Scriptures actually bring me a feeling of panic sometimes.  I guess I am such a task-oriented person who is afraid of “getting it wrong” and “doing everything right” that I can’t handle the most important Person in my life giving me a task that may cause me to fail.  I wasn’t always this way – I am just now learning that it is a result of my depression and my fears.  Maybe I can use this avoidance tendency as a gauge for how badly I NEED the scriptures in my life.

Psalm 55 says:

 5 Fear and trembling come upon me, And [d]horror has overwhelmed me. 6 I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and [e]be at rest. 7 “Behold, I would wander far away, I would lodge in the wilderness.

Although I cannot say that horror has overwhelmed me, often fear and trembling come upon me, and I truly do say things that reflect my desire to simply run away.  But I’ve tried that before, and it only intensified the loneliness I felt and the underlying sadness that remained.  Why do I go through these periods where I want to avoid these feelings and thoughts instead of doing what I KNOW I should do – face them and speak to them with the Word of God?

Psalm 55 continues with:

 16 As for me, I shall call upon God, And the LORD will save me. 17 Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, And He will hear my voice. 18 He will redeem my soul in peace [n]from the battle which is against me, For they are many who strive with me. 19 God will hear and [o]answer them— Even the one who [p]sits enthroned from of old—                          Selah.

Verse 18 speaks to me.  What I want most is peace in my soul.  What is my soul? My mind, will and emotions.  I definitely don’t have peace there at this moment. I’m frightened again because I have no work and I have nothing to do, and that is like DEATH to me. And I can’t just do anything – I have to be accomplishing something practical and functional with my time and skills, or doing nothing at all. I’m such an extremist so much of the time.

Finally, Psalm 55 finishes with:

22 Cast [t]your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to [u]be shaken.
23…. But I will trust in You.

Psalm 56 has a verse that I learned as a kid’s song that I taught my children years ago, but which helped calm me as well:

3 [h]When I am afraid, [i]I will put my trust in You. 4 In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere [j]man do to me?

That song is singing in my head right now, and I guess God is showing me that I need to return to a childlike trust in Him.  But I know my mind will not rest until I understand what I am afraid of again. I don’t think it is the financial fear that is tormenting me.  It is not fear of outside men.  It is fear of doing NOTHING, something which for some reason TERRIFIES ME.  There is a line in Sense and Sensibility which says, “Give me something to do, or I will go mad.”  THAT is how I feel! (This is where I wonder if it comes from the Aspergers – I just HAVE to be doing something at ALL times, and feel like I have to be able to recount, at any time, a list of things I have accomplished and have to show for my time.)

Writing this post forced me to go into the scriptures, and if I would discipline myself to write these posts again, I would have reason to stay in the scriptures. I need accountability, and I have none from outside, and my discipline, although decent right now physically (I’m working out and eating vegan), my spiritual life is just not where I want it to be.  I’m not in blatant sin – but I’m in avoidance and fear, neither of which is very godly.

So are you afraid of scripture during seasons of your life?  Do you fear intimacy with God? I’ll talk about that next.  Please share with me your experiences with your anxiety, fear and depression and its effect upon your spiritual life.

Penny Haynes