∼The Middle of the Garden∼

My experiences from walking and talking with Jesus in the middle of life's garden…a blog by Janet Williams

You know how we use the term’s ‘Girlfriend’ and ‘Boyfriend’? Well, I think I have been trying to be other people’s ‘God-Friend’. What I mean is that I’ve tried to be God in other people’s lives and in my own life. I’ve tried to make things happen because God wasn’t making them happen.

I get stressed and burned out when I try to play God in my own life and/or in the lives. I slowly lose the humble and respectful attitude towards God. I stop acknowledging He is God and not me. I try to buck it up and do what I perceive has to be done that God isn’t doing for me/others as I really think He should. That leads me to assuming that God wants me to do it myself. So, I go out on my own power unaware that God is not with me. 

That’s when I missed the last step leading to the basement and fell. Even though the X-Ray in the ER didn’t say so, I still think I chipped a bone in my ankle. That was the day that I decided to act as I used to in getting things done in my home and in my life. I was going to just get on with it. I was going to muster up all the same zest and zeal for plowing through all the mental lists inside my head that would move my life forward. At least, in the direction that I thought forward was. The only forward motion I achieved was a tumble down the stairs.

As I lay at the bottom landing below 14 steps, I had no cell phone and had no clue as to how to get up the stairs. I wasn’t sure how badly I was hurt or how much of what I was feeling was just the jitters. I had tried to go about my life as I had before. I used to do this every day to manage to get to work and keep the necessary things of living afloat. I realized, at the bottom of the stairs, four things.

1st, always take the cell phone with you to the basement. 2nd, quit assuming that what you think will move your life forward will actually be what God knows will move your life forward. 3rd, quit trying to willpower your way through life. 4th, turn it over to God and wait on Him to see if He thinks it’s a good plan. In other words, quit trying to be your own Savior, Counselor, Holy Spirit in your own life (and while you’re at it, in the lives of others). That’s what Samson tried to do after Delilah cut his hair.

So, like Samson (Judges 16:20), I landed in a situation that was far bigger than what my own willpower could handle.

I have a feeling that this is a far more common occurrence in everyone’s life than it just being in mine. And it becomes a bigger mess than we’d ever dreamt it could be. We become even more stressed and angry. We rage until we have no strength left to rage and then become depressed and confused. 

God didn’t ask us to do great things for Him. He asked us to humble ourselves before Him and recognize and acknowledge Him as God. It is His work. We try to play God-Friend, Savior, Holy Spirit and Counselor to ourselves and to others. This obstructs and hinders God from doing all of these things. We try so hard to become the friend to the needy that we overpower Jesus and the friend that He is trying to become to them. We are to offer a cup of cold water, not BE the cup of cold water.

We feel a great sense of power and comfort in helping others that it is so easy to cross over the line of being a help into being their Savior. We, mistakenly, try to become their God-Friend. We try to use friendship as a way of fixing what only God, Himself, wants to fix. And He wants to do that work by Himself to show the person in need that turning to me when they have a crisis is not His perpetual fix for their lives. He wants them to learn how to turn to Him.

We feel a great sense of power when we work to take control of our own life too. But, what starts out as a feeling of power becomes a trap too. That exhausting exercise routine is suddenly something you are tied to and can’t quit or you will lose all of the fitness that you have attained. You bragged and boasted so much about losing weight and getting new clothes that you’ve failed to see that now you are trapped in this demanding and taxing workout and eating regimen.

This is when our diet and exercise routine become a stumbling block for us. We trip over it again and again as it gets in our way. What we took up as a way to change our life has now become our Warden. And when we finally let go of it all (or we are forced to let go) we become sick or depressed. We lose all sense of who we are. We didn’t realize that we were taking our sense of self-worth and self-esteem from the way we now looked and how healthy we’d become. 

This is when all of our willpower comes crashing down around us. We barely have the willpower of a 2 day old kitten. We can barely make it out of bed and if we do we can’t force ourselves to make the bed because we may just want to crawl back into it in an hour. The weekend becomes too short of a time to recoup. Important things that need to be done are left undone. We say to ourselves, “What’s wrong with me?”

We begin to look for vitamins and over-the-counter medicines. We focus on our little aches and pains. We begin to dredge up old emotional hurts and wounds and this is all when the downward cycle is just gearing up. 

We go to a counselor and ask, “What’s wrong with me?” and start a year’s worth of therapy. And, instead of our trying to play God we try to get the counselor to play God. 

I am not discounting the value of therapy, please don’t misunderstand me. I am also not putting down anyone who is depressed. I know from first hand experience that this cycle is mind blowingly difficult to navigate. It feels like your whole world has been flipped upside down and you’re the only one who can see it. The sadness, bitterness, resentment and anger can be so volumous that it is overwhelming. 

I am saying, however, that when I have been able to trace back all of this huge tree-like blooming in my life, I end up finding that I’ve tried to play God somewhere or somehow and failed at being still and allowing Him to be God.

So, if you’ve tried to work your way into becoming a somebody for Christ or if you’ve worked at trying to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps or if you try to be someone else’s Holy Spirit and find yourself burned out, try humbling yourself before God. And do it again and again and again. Wash, rinse, repeat.

After I retired, I took up trying to do everything I’d always imagined I’d do in retirement. My list was long. But, as I began to pray about all the things I wanted to be and do, I began to get discouraged. These things weren’t happening. The trip would get cancelled because of an illness or the weather didn’t cooperate. Time after time there was some roadblock in the way. I prayed harder and I bought into claiming huge chunks of scriptures. But, all that became just another job. Until one day I quieted myself down and decided that all I wanted was to have one scripture as my focus in retirement. Just one that guided me into what kind of person I wanted to be in the future. So, I prayed about it. I told God that I was hoping for a kind of star in the sky of my future that I could aim towards. That’s when a scripture came to my mind over and over again. It was Romans 14:17. It says, “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” That’s what I really wanted. I wanted peace mingled with bouts of joy and knowing that I was in right standing with God all the time.

I began to speak out that scripture every time I got the notion of trying to do or become anything. I began to work at surrendering to God and He began the work of calming my life down. What I mean by that is that He began to calm down the sudden and intense desires of actions that would ease the pain of my not accomplishing the kind of success in the world that I thought I would have.

All I can do is give with open hands. I have to hold all things lightly and that includes all my plans, all desires and dreams. The more tightly I try to hold onto anything, the more I try to control it. I am trying to shape it according to my will as a potter does with a piece of clay. It’s just that it will never turn out to be what I’d hoped or imagined it would be. Surrender is the second hardest part of life. The willingness to continually accept my lot in life is the first.

So, here are some of the scriptures that I’ve alluded to in the above blog. May they help you find your way.

…..BLIS.BLOG…..by Janet Williams…..A BLOG TO SEE!…..

James 4:10 (AMP) Humble yourselves [with an attitude of repentance and insignificance] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up, He will give you purpose].

Mark 9:41 (AMP) For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, I assure you and most solemnly say to you, he will not lose his reward.

Jeremiah 17:13 (AMP) O Lord, the hope of Israel, All who abandon You will be shamed. Those who turn away on earth will be written down, Because they have abandoned the Lord, the fountain of living waters.

Judges 16:20 (AMP) She said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as I have time after time and shake myself free.” For Samson did not know that the Lord had departed from him.

Luke 9:23 (NLT) Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.

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