March 29, 2010

A House of Prayer

Tomorrow is March 30, 2009 and I go to court again to face off with Jeff. At least this time I don't have to drive to NY to do it. I filed a petition to end his visitation with the children because of his continued bad behavior and traumatizaton of the children. As I said in a previous post I already know it's a long shot and very unlikely that my request will be granted. But I am at least hoping that the supervised visits will be extended for at least 2 years or whatever the maximum is. I'm sure as usual he will have his hired gun there, that he is paying for with the child support he's not paying. I won't have any representation because down here, the court doesn't provide attorneys for you if you can't afford one and the one legal organization that helps people pro bono, said they don't handle my kind of case.

Well what I will have is my heavenly Father, and that should be all I need. I will pray for, trust and expect God's will to be done yet again. If it's His will for Jeff to be out of our lives completely, then He will make that happen. If for some reason He wants me to continue to have to deal with this man as I deal with other forms of adversity as part of the bigger picture for me, then so be it.

I will just have to accept it and still hold on to my peace.

Which leads me to the message I heard yesterday in church. It was one of those words in season that you know when you hear it, God is talking to you and something you are dealing with. For a little while now, I've felt myself slipping. Slipping in my thoughts, actions and behaviors. In a way, I was kicking God to the curb. I told Him, "That's it. I'm done doing the right thing. I'll just do what I want to do. What difference does it make anyway? Doing the right thing and trying to live righteously and faithfully hasn't gotten me anywhere. So I can live like everyone else, have fun and still end up with bad results."

The pastor that spoke yesterday said that instead of complaining to others, we should take our complaints to God. Trust me, I do. Some people don't talk to God because they say they don't know how. Well, I learned a while ago that you can talk to God like you'd talk to any other friend you have. So I do. I let Him know when I'm pissed off, sad, hurting, can't take any more, happy, thankful and when I don't know what to do.

But for a little while now, I hadn't been talking to God that much. Basically because I've felt let down and abandoned. I know that He said He'd never leave me or forsake me, but being without a place to live for over a year with 4 children can begin to wear down the strongest patience and hope and make you question whether God is still around or even cares about what is happening to you.

I told God more than once in the past few months that I don't want the future He has for me, I just want to live a decent life. If I have to continue going through hell to get to heaven on earth one day off in the distant future, He could keep it.

I did also add that I needed Him to have mercy on me and forgive my frail humanity. I don't want to get too disrespectful with God.

The pastor directed us to several passages of scripture to illustrate the message he delivered. One of those passages was Luke 19:37-48, and he focused on verse 46 which says, "and He said, "It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves!" Jesus yelled this as He was tossing out the merchants that were in the temple selling things. The temple of God was supposed to be holy, where people went to hear the word of God taught and to pray, yet people were turning it into a mall with the money god and idol things. Kinda like today, don't cha think?

Another passage was 1 Corinthians 6:19, "Do you not know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God?..." And Philippians 4:6-7, "Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Okay, so what was the crux of the message and what is the point that I'm making now? Glad you asked.
The bible speaks to us literally, figuratively and symbolically. Before Christ died on the cross, the actual temple building that was made out of stone was the place of prayer. Only the high priest was allowed to go into the inner sanctuary where the presence of God dwelt. A thick heavy veil separated the inner sanctuary from the outer and if anyone other than the high priest crossed it, they would die on the spot.

When Christ died on the cross, He said, "It is finished."  Instantly the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom which was symbolic of one of the greatest benefits of Christ's sacrifice. The inner sanctuary was no longer "For High Priests Only." Now anyone could access God directly and intimately. And upon acceptance of Christ as Lord and High Priest of our lives, then our bodies become the temple of the spirit of God and He dwells in us. We become living sanctuaries and our bodies, our selves should be a "house of prayer."

The bible says we should "pray always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit..."(Ephesians 6:18) and to "Pray without ceasing." (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Why do we need to pray all the time? Is it because God will be angry if we don't and punish us or He'll be sad and cry? No. It's because this world is full of evil, wickedness and dark forces. We are engaged in a spiritual war and "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds." (2 Corinthians 10:4)

Prayer is for us not God. God is perfect, problem free and all powerful. He doesn't need our prayers.
It benefits us to pray. What are the benefits? There are several of them.
One benefit is a closer more intimate relationship with God. What can be cooler than being on a deeply personal level with the One that has the whole universe in His hands? I can't think of anything.

Another benefit is answer to our prayers, whether it's for ourselves or on behalf of others. Who doesn't want their prayers answered? I know that just like our own kids, we always want the answer to be yes or else we feel it wasn't answered at all. But sometimes for our own good, it has to be, no. That's why we have to pray for His will to be done, not ours. When what we want lines up with God's will, He moves on our behalf.

Finally, when we pray about anything and everything, "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Considering all the troubling times we live in and things going on in this country, in this world and in our individual lives, being able to have peace that surpasses any issue is an awesome thing and it's free!

So I realized during the message yesterday that kicking God to the curb was the wrong thing to do. No matter what I'm feeling or going through, I have to keep talking to God, keep praying my way through and out of this situation. I would prefer not to go through anything I'm going through now or anything I've gone through the past 10 years, but Jesus would've preferred not to go to the cross too. He prayed and asked God to take that cup from Him, that if it could be done any other way, please do it that way. But He also ended it with, not His will but God's will.

I've been asking God to take this cup from me.
I told Him that the cross I'm bearing is breaking me and it's becoming a deal breaker for my relationship with Him. I said that I wasn't feeling His bland plan and thought I might as well return to Egypt because at least there are leeks and garlic there. I told Him that if His plan was to crush my spirit, it was working perfectly.

Jesus chose to let go and let God have His way. Through his obedience and sacrifice, a number that no man can number, will be saved and set free from a life of bondage and death. His reward is to sit at the right hand of the Father with all power, victory and glory. God is lifted up and glorified for the genius of His plan that displayed His goodness, kindness, mercy and love toward mankind.

I'm not Jesus. Billions of people aren't going to be saved from eternal damnation because I was abused and homeless for what feels like forever. But who knows what God is doing and how He intends to get glory from it, because in the end it will point back to Him and it will all become clear.

In the meantime, what do I do? Don't worry about it. (Trust me, easier said than done.) Pray without ceasing about anything and everything and allow the peace of God to surpass anything I could think about the circumstances. I kicked God to the curb and being who He is, I know He sat patiently and lovingly on my curb waiting for me to come back and continue my journey with Him.

I'm tired of all this courtroom drama, I want the legal system out of our lives. I would like for my husband to leave us alone forever. I'm tired of moving from one temporary place to another. I'm tired of struggling.

But God knows that. He knows because I've told Him and you know, because He's God and all.

He knows my issues, my struggles, my concerns, my desires, my strengths and weaknesses. He knows what I can do and will do and He knows what He plans for me to do. This Palm Sunday God gently rebuked me, corrected me so that He can continue to teach me and train me for the work He's called me to do ~ whatever that is.

And I guess I do want the future He has for me after all. He said its better than anything I could even imagine.
"...No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him." (2 Corinthians 2:9)

So for now, while I have to wait in my Paul and Silas style prison, I'll continue to develop my relationship with God, going deeper and becoming more intimate with Him. I'll continue to pray knowing that somewhere in the spirit realm, something is happening that I can't see yet in the natural. And through that, God's peace should fill me to overflowing, if I let it.

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness..." (2 Timothy 3:16)