About two weeks ago I had the fight of my life. I was on the battleground of doubt and it was getting bloody. I have been a believer for a really long time, and I have not really encountered such doubt. But this time it was different. I don’t know what it was, but most likely it was the lies that were being shouted in my head, and the fact that I was believing them and NOT God and the Truth of His Word. I believed that:
I am worthless
I am not a good wife
I am not a good mother
What I do does not matter for the kingdom
My affliction does not count in God’s economy
I am not loved
Not a very pretty list when one looks at in black and white. But these were the lies that I was allowing to be louder in my head than the Truth which is for me in God’s Word.
What was frustrating was that I was doing everything (I thought) that I knew to combat these lies.
Replace them with the Truth found in God’s Word.
Worship Jesus for who He is.
Spend time in His Word and study it.
Pray. Pray. Pray.
And yet, my doubts lingered. It was horrible.
In the middle of this time my family and I, along with some dear friends, went to Disneyland for a week. We were in the park for 5 days straight! And to top it off, we got to spend some time with my sister and her family. It really was a dream. We were celebrating 20 years of homeschooling as my youngest had graduated last June and we began planning this trip in July. It was sooooooo much fun. To give you an illustraton to the time I was in, think of the Guardians of the Galaxy in California Adventure. It is what used to be called Tower of Terror. I don’t know why I went on this again, because my first time was horrific, but it was even worse this second time. I scrunched my eyes closed the entire time, I had no control of keeping my body anywhere it should have stayed, and my insides were screaming. It was horrible. And I went on it willingly. Shoot me, next time. That awful feeling for about 4 minutes – it was probably less, even though it felt like 4 hours!, was actually the way I had been feeling for about a month. My guts were inside out. I was frustrated, quick to complain, not happy, and not where I knew I should be as a believer, and yet, it seemed that I was stuck.
All along I had been studying and preparing to teach on Acts 20. My heart was drawn to verse 24.
I absolutely love this verse and I am thrilled to my fingertips whenever I read it. I was meditating on it day and night. I was analyzing the words in the original language, Greek. I was reading commentaries. In this research I was led to a verse that stopped me in my tracks because I believe Paul really got it.
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” Mark 8:34
Jesus said these words. And they are for us. So, I asked the Lord about a month before my crisis what these words meant. I mean - really meant. How did they apply to me, Kerry Sue Stewart Teravskis, in 2018? I think I got my answer, and it came at a
cost. There was a body count. There was bloodshed. The battle was fierce.
In my research on Paul, I came across many references to his time in the desert of Arabia, that he refers to in Galatians 1:17, as well as his time in Tarsus. God used the time in the desert to teach Paul. He was taken away from everything he knew and was taught in a dry, dusty land that Jesus is Lord of all. Paul learned from the Master Himself. And then, he was put on the shelf, so to speak, for a while in Tarsus. All told, Paul was in obscurity for about 8-9 years!!!!! Here was a man who was very popular with the Jewish bigwigs, and he was infamous for his murderous plots against the new believers in the early church. According to the world’s standards, Paul had it all. But that changed when he was called by Jesus; called to preach and to be a light to the Gentiles. He went from being a lion to a lamb. And it was during this time of obscurity that God taught Paul something – humility. That is the lesson of Mark 8:34.
When one carries a cross, it means there has already been a death sentence. The verdict has been given. The payment is death. Carrying the cross was humbling. Through the streets and everyone was watching. One was weak from the beatings before the trial, and now, the long walk to “Golgatha”. Does this remind you of Someone? Jesus. He carried His cross – until Simon of Cyrene was forced to carry it, because Jesus was stumbling under the weight of it with His body physically spent. Jesus knew what it meant to carry the cross. He knew what it meant to be humbled, to have the verdict read and it was GUILTY.
So, in my life I was needing a big dose of
I was thinking far too much about myself and not enough about Jesus.
“God is not a heavenly bellboy, delivering only pleasurable and comforting thing to our door. He doesn’t exist to make us happy. We exist to bring Him glory.” (Chuck Swindoll, Paul, A Man of Grace and Grit)
Did you catch that? WE EXIST TO BRING HIM GLORY. That is the key that unlocked the door of doubt for me. It is NOTabout me, nor my comfort, nor my pain. It is about me bringing glory to my Saviour. He will do whatever it takes to my eyes off me and onto Him. He is more interested in my character that in my comfort. He is molding and shaping me into the image of His Son.
See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. Isaiah 48:10
This is what God is doing with me in my life. I am not the same person I was 4 years ago. I am weak. I live in pain. I am not able to do the things I did before. He has me in the furnace of affliction, and it’s for my good.
My problem? I was doubtful. I was double-minded. I said one thing, but did not believe it completely in my head and my heart. I bucked, I rebelled, I threw down my cross and walked away.
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. And when he asks, he must not doubt because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord, he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does (James 1:5-8).
I began to ask for wisdom. I needed God’s wisdom to believe the truth that He had written in the Bible. I could not rely on my
human wisdom. I needed His thoughts as my thoughts. I needed His ways to govern mine. I needed Him. And in that needing, I needed to give Him glory. He is Sovereign. He is good. And He loves me. These are the truths that are found all over the pages of Scripture. I need to let them penetrate deep within my heart and to believe them wholewheartedly. I had allowed my eyes to wander, and I was getting lost in the sea of doubt and despair. It was not a very good place to be. However, in that time, I can now see that God was silent with me because He was listening to my cries. He had not gone anywhere, and He really wasn’t silent, more He was allowing His Word to comfort me. God was letting me get up after I stumbled – just like a toddler learning to walk, I had stumbled and Jesus was right there helping me regain my footing. In the process I was learning humility. Dependence on God. This season in my life is to teach me to be more like Him. And to die to myself.
“Now, I don’t like to confess this before the Lord and all His angels, but I do better in suffering. It shows me those places where I haven’t been what I ought to be. It shows me what I’m really like inside. But it’s also a way of bringing out something of Jesus in my life, and it puts a desire in my heart to be more like Him.” (Kay Smith, Pleasing God)
Amen and amen.