This morning’s sermon was on storms. How appropriate! I just came out of what felt like the “perfect” storm. It was actually 2 storms in one. And it hurt. A combination of a misunderstanding run amok on one hand and being taken advantage of on the other. I knew God was with me. I knew the attacks were not because of anything I had done. In fact, I had knew I had done everything I could to minimize the situations but instead of calming down, they grew greater. I sought understanding, I believed He would provide, deliver and bring peace to the situation. Instead, the storms grew greater. Knowing I had done all I could, and that I truly had not brought these storms on myself through sin or disobedience, I then did what came natural…I panicked.
Nothing made sense. The more I “trusted” the worse things got! Had I misunderstood God? No. Then what was my next step? I could not find the answer to that question. It seemed to be there, but just out of reach. Finally, I chose a direction with one of the storms and went with it…and it was the wrong direction. I was mad. Not at God but at people. “How could they treat me like this? What had I done to deserve this? Absolutely nothing! Maybe they need to just be confronted. Yes, that’s what they need; some healthy, Biblical confrontation.” Wrong.
I heard God’s correction and had to humble myself before the very people I felt had wrongly attacked me. It was not easy. However, I still did not have peace. The other storm grew until I was so physically spent I could not go on. I was sick every other weekend and losing weight. How could this be? I had trusted God! Now what?!
Finally, I heard that still, small voice. “You cannot ask for my protection and then try to protect yourself.” So, that was it. My old enemy, self-protection, was back again and my loving God had engineered the “perfect” storm to demonstrate that I was still susceptible to his tricks. How could I have fallen for this again?! I was despondent. But the gentle correction of God is that He simply explained that love and self-protection cannot go together. Self protection is unbelief. If I say I believe God is my fortress, my defender, and my help and then defend myself, how is that belief? And if I don’t really believe Him, then I don’t really love Him. Ouch.
So, I had to give it up. It was not easy. At first I really struggled with giving up the “right” to protect myself. Having been victimized as a child, self protection runs deep – as deep as the core of my very being. How does one allow others to use, abuse and hurt them and not raise any defense or protective measures? How do you keep your heart open knowing others will hurt you? How do you love in the face of an attack? How?
I still don’t have all the answers. But what I do know is that I could not face Jesus Christ, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross. The One Who was misunderstood, mocked, wrongly accused, beaten and abused, tortured and died a hideous death…for me, I could not face HIM and say, “I’m sorry but I can’t go there. I can’t let others treat me like this.” The comparison was beyond ridiculous. I could not face the Father Who watched His only beloved Son go through all that and had to allow it so I could find peace with Him and eternal life and say, “I don’t think you will protect me so I reserve the right to defend myself.” (That doesn’t even make sense! Why would He provide for my eternal life and not protect me to get me to it?) So, I laid down my “right.” I surrendered self-protection and chose Jesus.
I will be honest, I really don’t fully know how this works. I don’t know how to keep my heart open and take the blows without retaliation or resentment. I don’t know how I will not turn to self-defense when I am wrongly accused and become the subject of gossip. I don’t know how I will show love to those who misuse me and refuse to acknowledge so. How do you genuinely still love the very people who sometimes intentionally hurt you? I don’t know…yet. But what I do know is this: my God has promised in Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” NASB The very One who endured so much hurt and abuse will teach me how to live the way of love…the way of belief.
And no doubt He will give me another opportunity to surrender again.