Wow! I rarely whine but, wow! Have you ever had a week like I had last week? I haven’t felt so beat up in many years as I did coming out of last week. Talking with my friends, I realized that I was not the only one. One friend said she felt like she had a dark cloud following her. Others had times of immense struggle and persecution too. As I was driving down the highway early in the morning on Friday, the sunrise ahead of me seemed to speak to me. In the far distance, the sun was trying to rise to brighten the sky but just above it, there was a dark wall of clouds that appeared to be pressing down on it from all sides. All you could see was the sun’s little light peering out from under all the darkness. That particular sunrise was a picture of exactly how I was feeling inside that day.
I feel as a Christian, it is my duty in life to let my light shine. I can’t cower because someone doesn’t agree with me or thinks I am false. Although, it would make life a lot easier! I have been writing for God for nearly two years now and saying things that some may or may not agree with me. However, clouds of disagreement will not keep me from doing what I have been called to do. God knows I’m not perfect but He loves me and chooses to use me anyways. He knows I will faithfully serve Him in everything He asks me to do. Clouds of judgment will not discourage me because I know He knows my inmost being and that’s good enough for me!
Tomorrow I will be sharing my struggles, pain and triumphs through life with a group of women as I share my testimony of how I came to know Christ as my personal Savior. When I’m not being transparent in my writing or speaking though, I tend to always try to stay upbeat and positive in my Facebook posts and Twitter tweets. Perhaps they paint a picture of a more perfect me than what you get in my speaking and writing—or even real life for that matter! I just choose not to spew negativity on everyone reading my posts every day, so I keep it happy. In one conversation this week a friend said, “Lori, Christians have struggles too. Life can’t be perfect all the time; it’s not a good witness to be cheerful everyday! People need to see we have down days too.” I agree to some extent that we need to be real, so that is why I share candidly through my writings and in my speaking. However, I do feel it is more edifying to God when I share what He is doing in my life versus whining everyday about what He is not. It’s when we start to rise and shine so to speak, only to look up, see the wall of clouds above that are pressing in and give up without trying that we are ineffective for the kingdom.
We are currently doing a study in our small group by John Piper called Desiring God. I like John’s statement, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” If we as Christians continue walking around with dark clouds over our heads crying woe is me, how are we glorifying God? But you say, “Lori, you don’t understand. I’ve had a rough life. I have had people hurt me; I’ve made bad choices that are irreversible, everyone’s out to get me.” I say, “How is God glorified in that? If we have a world of miserable Christians walking this earth, day after day after day, who would want to join us?” I wouldn’t! I would also say, “Haven’t we all suffered? What makes your suffering any worse than mine? However, I will tell you that what you may not see is on the other side of all of those dark clouds is a blue sky! Knowing that, do you really want to stay where you’re at and never get beyond the darkness?” What do you need to do to push past the uglies and darkness that have been prevailing in your life up to now?
I have learned that when my focus is on the blue skies above all of this mess of ugly clouds we call trials and persecution, I don’t seem to even notice their threat after a while. They no longer are a hindrance or hold power to squelch my daily walk of being satisfied in the Lord and joyful in heart. I do admit that sometimes the clouds can get dark and scary when there are many crowding together instead of just one here and there. I even become weary and downright exhausted at times from their intensity as I did last week. But I have learned the hard way to trust there is not a cloud in the sky or wall of clouds for that matter that God can’t move. I don’t need to worry and fret.
So please, if you’re going to insist on carrying your dark clouds around over your head year after year, please don’t ask me to join you in that. I promise to pray for you, help you through the tough times, and do whatever it takes to get you out of that mess. But don’t ask me to agree with you or insist I choose to hang out under your clouds too. I have learned that not only is He most glorified when I am satisfied in Him; but, I am also most satisfied when I am glorifying Him! I can’t see that it is glorifying to have a black cloud accompanying me everywhere I go. Will there be cloudy days ahead? Sure! Will I struggle through them? Of course! But for today I don’t apologize for this smile on my face or the freedom that I feel in Christ. I praise Him that He has set me free from the bondage of worry, strife and all of the other clouds that have tried to get in my way. It’s all because I choose not to focus on the clouds, but rather on the One Who created them. Won’t you make that choice with me today too?
Proverbs 3: 5-6 (NKJV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.