Monday, June 20, 2005

Deception, or "Lord Help Mine Unbelief!"

I bought a new book the other day. It is called “Lies Women Believe…and the Truth that Sets them Free”, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

A pretty compelling title, if you ask me.

I didn’t go in the book store looking for a book on deception and freedom. I actually went in looking for something…anything…by Amy Carmichael. Sadly, Barnes & Noble doesn’t feel it necessary to keep her books in stock. Neither does the local Christian bookstore.

I could get up on my soapbox here, but I won’t.

Anyway…I was disappointed and just thought I’d look to see what else they had available. As I scanned the titles and author names, this one leapt out at me. I’ve been thinking a bit about deception in my own life and the lives of those I am close with…and in God’s kindness He also reminded me of areas where His Truth has set me (and them) free. But as is the way with me…I am always going to lean more heavily on what is lacking…because bringing it out into the open is the only way to get it dealt with (and, possibly because I am a bit of a pessimist and it is easier to dwell on the “bad stuff”).

As I read the first few pages, I sensed the Lord leading me to ask myself the following two questions:

How have I been (am I being) deceived?
How has (or can) the truth set me free?

I didn’t have much time to ponder that as the girl that was meeting me for coffee walked through the door. But we did discuss that a bit in our conversation…and it was good

The next morning as I got up and spent some time with the Lord, I read…

The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
they have eyes, but do not see;
they have ears, but do not hear,
nor is there any breath in their mouths.
Those who make them become like them,
so do all who trust in them! (Psalm 135:15-18)

I was blown away. Maybe I am being overly literal or over symbolic…but essentially what this said to me is when we are deceived, we have made something else our god, and like “dumb idols” we do not speak His truth, we do not see His ways, we cannot hear His words…we become like them…like the idol that has been put before God. I know for me…I could say any number of things have been in that place and for the sake of that thing, fear, pride, self-seeking, lust, willful disobedience, rebellion…you name it…have been allowed to take over and rule me for a time.

I am humbled at how often I have fallen into this trap…how often I still do…and how much grace is there when I repent. How clearly I see things…how clearly I hear His voice…and how joyful obedience becomes.

The question for me now becomes…are there areas where I am not speaking God’s truth…not seeing His ways…not hearing His voice? Last night…another area was revealed to me. It’s really not a new area…but it is manifesting in ways (and at a time) I wouldn’t have expected.

I had dinner with a dear friend and, as is bound to happen when two single women get together, the subject of marriage came up. I shared that the Lord had been leading me to pray…but that I was still struggling with thoughts of disbelief that anyone would be interested in me…especially now. She was taken aback by that and said many sweet and encouraging things, which can be summed up this way: I don’t see myself correctly…I don’t see what “everyone else” sees.

Or at the very least…I don’t see what this dear friend sees in me.

I am aware that the Lord has done a major work in me. All along the way, the internal/spiritual/emotional changes He has worked over the past year or two has been far more dramatic to me than the 80+ pounds I have lost. There have been times when I have been overcome by the reality of the difference in me…in my thoughts…in my habits…in my responses to circumstances. But where I get tripped up, I think, is when I look in the mirror. I see the same thing I have always seen. I no longer look in the mirror in disgust…in fact most days I FEEL like a size 8. I don't see myself as a size 8...I am just comfortable in my skin and mostly feel content with what the Lord is doing and how He is doing it and so on. But, He has given me this promise…the promise of marriage…and called me to pray in faith and I am still having a hard time detaching the possibility of marriage from the (actual or imagined) size of my butt.

Yet He is kind, and encouraging, no doubt to “help mine unbelief”.

This weekend I was reading Elisabeth Elliot’s biography of Amy Carmichael (again) and in it she related a story of her first missionary journey. There was a delay with the boat…a 6 day delay…and one of the other missionaries was complaining and worrying that they would miss what the Lord had for them. Their leader responded “God knows about the boats.” As I read that, I heard “God knows about the butt!”

It reminded me of another time, many years ago, when I was standing in my room, getting ready for something and looked at myself with disgust in the mirror. I thought, “NO one will every want to marry me as long as I look this way.” Immediately, and as audibly as I have ever heard the Lord, I heard “I am bigger than your butt.” I was stunned and sat down on the bed in tears.

Yet, years later, I am still struggling with this. And maybe it is because I have been trying too hard to see myself the way others see me or the way I think they should see me. When in reality I need to see who He is more than I need to see who I am.

So, I guess the choice I have to make is…is God God or is my butt?

The answer is easy to say…a challenge to live out.

What I have to keep reminding myself is that my ability to conceive of the reality of His promises is not what should motivate or control my prayer time. It is a matter of faith…and faith that is seen is not faith. Yet I can hold to what I know…that He is God…a faithful God…who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and serve Him (Deut 7:9)…who does exceedingly, abundantly…beyond all we could ask for think or hope for (Ephesians 3:20)…who will complete what He has begun (Phil 1:6) and work even this faith struggle for my good and His glory (Rom 8:28).

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