Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
I'm not sure if you're familiar with the book by Gary Chapman titled, "The 5 Love Languages". I myself have not read it but I have skimmed it and even taken the free online test; a couple of times. The love languages are words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. My results are always the same with my highest desire being 'words of affirmation'. Looking back I can see this desire even as a child. I thrived on praise. I was driven because I wanted the praise and approval of someone. I grew into an extremely prideful and judgmental person. And I never even knew it. I didn't see it at all. My faults and failures were so small compared to the faults and failures of others. I was so prideful that when I would read the Bible, thoughts like these would always pop into my head, "Denise really should read that!", "Wow! That really describes James to a tee!" Never would I see myself and my faults. So as I've written about before, God opened my eyes. It was a long process and including this present time of shaping, it has been 3 years. Like the potter and the clay written in Jeremiah 18:4, I was marred. So with the word of HOPE he began to shape me. I was broken and desperately needed hope just to survive it. Then with the word HUMILITY He continued to shape me. In the words of Max Luccado "having long since stopped demanding justice; I began pleading for mercy". I never realized how hungry, poor and imprisoned I was. Humility set me free. Admitting the truth to myself. Seeing who I truly was set me free. I was blind, and just now Matthew 9:29 has a deeper meaning. "Then He touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith will it be done to you." I will tell you my faith has been small. I ask and immediately make excuses for God so that he doesn't have to answer my prayer. As if he needed a way out. God is at work and He is building my faith, quickly, I might add. I come to my closet each morning (not every morning) and things just "come together". Sometimes its AMAZING. Breathtaking. Sometimes its small. And just this morning I felt His Spirit say to me, "If you want affirmation, seek it from Me. In these "coincidences" I am gently letting you know, there is nothing to fear, you're on the right path." Nothing to fear.... that word, FEAR - fear and I go way back.
Well this morning I come to my closet like every morning (read MOST mornings) and I begin by writing down my thanks in a gratitude journal I keep. I've been nursing a deep hole this holiday season; a hole I've nursed for years. This cavern that says I don't fit in. I'm a misfit in my family. At times I feel I was a mistake. Without diving in too deep in a public place, I'll just leave it at that. Last night the tears began to fall and my husband wrapped his arms around me and said he'd been praying for me to find a place where I felt I belonged and that He thought these prayers had been answered because of all the times I emerge from my closet and have something to share, something learned... I belong with God... I fit in this room - my closet.... with God. (Today 1.13.13, I read in Psalm 68:6 "God places the solitary in families and gives the desolate a home in which to dwell....") I was thankful this morning for a praying husband and that He helped me to see one more way God shows His love to me. I then began to pray the Lord's prayer as He has guided me. With his guidance I have been dissecting this prayer and finding Scripture to back up each little phrase. I rushed through it a little this morning and when I got to "deliver us from evil" this bit of scripture entered my thinking..."he who does the will of my father"... over and over again. I didn't know for sure where this verse was or if it was an entire verse or just a snippet. So I open my computer and google it. And I turn back to the Lord's prayer where it says, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." I look at the links on the computer and Mark 3:35 shows up. I turn to my notebook where I had dissected this bit of the prayer and I skim the verses below it, and sure enough come to Mark 3:35 "Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother". But then I look back to my screen and seeMatthew 7:21 and Matthew 12:50. I acknowledge these two verses and jot down the reference in the margin of my notebook and proceed on with my time. I pray over the part that says "Give us this day, our daily bread." I ask that He would nourish me with His Scripture and speak to me what He feels I would need this day and I finish up my prayer. I then open up my devotion and there it is for today, Thursday, December 27, 2012, the Scripture reading, Matthew 7:13-29. Right smack dab in the middle of this reading is Matthew 7:21 and the phrase that popped into my head earlier "he who does the will of my father." And surrounding this verse are the verses that have plagued me most of my Christian life.... the parable of the good tree and bad tree and the dreaded words "I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" And the tears fall as I hear His Spirit say, I affirm you each day so that you know, KNOW, that I know you. I know your pains. I know the holes and caverns in your heart. And I will affirm you each day until you can stand BOLDLY. I will help you build this foundation on rock (verses 24-27). And I stare at the verses written on my chalkboard paint wall; "...Perfect love drives out fear...", "God is my salvation. I will trust and NOT be afraid."...The LORD will perfect that which concerns me.","...He who began a good work in you, will carry it on to completion....", "Believe: cleave to, trust, and rely on and have faith in My Messenger."... and that name, YAHWEH - M'KADDESH meaning The LORD who Sanctifies and in these things there is this reoccurring concept. HE will, The LORD will. When I make Him the Lord of my heart, meaning I surrender to Him, obey Him, trust Him, ....he does the hard part. Why? Because He loves me. He loves me enough and knows me enough to love me through affirmation.