Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lights on! Lights off! Lights on! Lights off!

(Below are Nicole's thoughts on Chapter 6 of Just Enough Light for the Step I'm On. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore we ask, if you feel like it please share in the comments section what you got out of the reading as well. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit!)

Lights on! Lights off! Lights on! Lights off! That's how I've always felt my spiritual walk with God has been. To no one's fault but my own. Chapter 6 really helped me see this!

Brief recap...

In Chapter 6, Stormie compares our spiritual walks/relationships with God to paying your light bill. She begins by saying "When your light bill arrives, you might be able to come up with at least four reasons for not paying it: 1. "I don't have what it takes." 2. I don't want to." 3. I didn't know I had to." 4. "I forgot." Which one of these do you think the electric company will accept as a legitimate excuse for not paying? You guessed it! None of the above. Which one of these will God accept as a good excuse for not living in obedience to His ways? Right again! None of the above."

I started reading Chapter 6 about a week ago. After reading just the very beginning of this chapter, I started thinking about my own spiritual walk. What am I not doing that God requires for me to do? I could actually name quite a few things. Dare I humble myself to my faults? Sure, I can be honest with you and name a few. I don't spend as much time reading the Bible as I should. I don't call on Him first when I need help...I pick up the phone and call my friend in Greenville. I don't spend quality time praying with thanks to God for everything I do have. Then, I stop and think about my days. On my good days, I turn God's light off. It's there, it's waiting for me. I just don't go to it. I don't go to Him in prayer. I don't read as much as I should. But on my bad days, I'm desperately searching for his light. I need to turn on His light quickly.

Then I read more....Stormie says "Often we find ourselves walking in the dark simply because we are not willing to pay the price for having the light." I thought to myself...well that's simple, I can handle that. I kept reading..."We won't experience the awesomeness of God's power in our lives if we are not willing to meet His conditions for plugging into it." I can't tell you how many times I've told my husband that I just feel like we're not doing what God wants us to do. I feel like there's something on the horizon that He's getting ready to really bless us with but because we haven't "obeyed" it's just waiting for us.

Its' so easy to stray off course in obeying God. I love how Stormie compared it to getting drifted out to sea. How many times has that happened to you? You're at the beach, standing in front of where you placed your towels. You start jumping in the waves and playing. The next thing you know you don't see your towels. You've moved! This happens so often in my life. Just look at what happened this week. I decided I was going to make sure God was shining His light on me full blast. I wanted everything He had to offer me and I wanted to do it His way. I had a plan...every morning I would get up, pour myself a cup of coffee, sit down and read my Bible. Then half way through the day I would read an online devotional. At the end of the day, I would read our current study. Things went great day 1. By day 2, I started drifting. I read my Bible but it was usually in the afternoon when I was waiting in car pool line to pick up my son. By day 3, I dropped my online devotional. Day 4, I went to bed and realized I hadn't even picked up my Bible. But I was tired. (Would the light company take that excuse?) I totally saw what Stormie meant when she said "...our disobedience happens with such subtlety that we're not even aware of it." I needed to get back on track, fast. Every time I thought about not doing it, every time I had a worry creep into my head through out the day, every time I started to pick up the phone to call someone about a problem, I stopped myself, prayed and listened. It's amazing how much light He turned on for me this week. Stormie was so right when she said..."When we obey God, we are protected. When we obey God, we hear his voice. When we obey God, we see answers to our prayers. When we obey God, we can be led by Him." It's amazing how just in the past few days, it just feels right. I feel like I'm going on the path I need to be on. Two weeks ago, I never would have thought I'd say that. We had a pretty rough three weeks here in my home. Broken computers, broken toe, broken foot, my son who has autism was fighting off a virus which caused some regression and aggression, broken air conditioners...the worries just kept piling on. Nothing has changed as far as my son. He's still fighting off a virus. The computer is fixed. The toe is good. The foot is back to normal. We still have lots of "darkness" in our day. I've just been able to find the way to turn the light on and keep it on to help guide me to my path.

Any time a worry comes into my mind, which is quite often, I think about the comparison that Stormie gave about the light bill. Then I take it one step forward. What if I didn't pay the light bill and the lights went out? I may not need the lights during the day. I'd be fine not turning them on. But it's nice knowing they're ready for me. At night, in all the darkness where I couldn't see a thing, I need those lights. I desperately need those lights to guide me, help me see the right path to take and to give me that security that I need. It's at that point I wished I'd paid the light bill and I'd do anything for those lights to come back on. For me, I'm going to stop letting God's light go on and off in my life. I'm going to do all I can to walk the way He needs me to walk.

I love Stormie's Prayer Light so much that I've re-typed it below for you read once again...

"Lord, I thank You that You have given me all the light I need for this day. I want to experience everything You have for me, and I am willing to pay the price of obedience for it. So if there is any area in my life where I am not walking in full obedience to Your ways, show me. If You want me to do something that I am not doing, make me understand and enable me to accomplish it. Don't let me drift away. Pull me out of deep waters and rescue me from all that takes me from You. I lay down my will and surrender to Yours. I turn away from selfish claims to my own life in order to heed Your direction. Take any rebellion in me and expose it with Your truth. 'Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting' (Psalm 139:23-24). Lord, I choose this day to obey You because I know my life works best when I do. In the areas where obedience is hard for me, walk me through step by step. I don't want to do anything that would dim the light You have for my path." -Stormie Omaritian

I encourage you to read that prayer out loud. It's amazing how different it felt after I did that.


Jessica said...

Whew, this was a good chapter for setting me straight with this too. I have lots of things at my disposal to pay the "light bill" (Bible, devotionals, spiritual books, etc.) but don't always fit into a regular routine. Matthew's sleep is often unpredictable, at times I'm taking care of him throughout the night and even just getting to start the day at the same time consistently seems impossible.

Thanks for reminding me of how important it is to stop, and give our thoughts and anxieties to God. The more we do this, He becomes part of our every choice and we learn to look for and listen to Him better.

I had a very similar experience a few months ago. I was struggling with my son's ups and downs, illnesses and regressions-feeling like I was on a roller coaster. I asked God, why am I not more steady, and going so up-and-down with all of this, especially if I was reading scripture, praying and had faith? The next day at church the reading was from Matthew chapter 13 (the parable of the Sower):

"A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear." (verses 3-9)

I realized that I had to work on my soil, I needed to be a more fertile place for God's seeds to take root and not be snatched away. I joined a weekly prayer group and try to attend daily mass as much as possible. I also made a very conscious effort to screen out any outside influences that subtly pull me away from God. The ups and downs, worries and distractions are still there but are not as powerful when I take the time to be more firmly grounded.

Verses 18-23 explain this perfectly:
"Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."

Crystal said...

This is an amazing blog. My son has autism and it's greatly affected my life. Even though my light is now off, I still believe. I'm going to add your blog to my autism blog list. I've enjoyed reading it. :)

Nicole Collins said...

So glad to see you join us! We welcome everyone to share their experiences and what they've learned throughout this study. It's amazing how we can all lift each other up!