There are two times a year, I am faithful to post here. In January, to help kickstart the new year. Then again, towards the end of August, which is the anniversary of launching this blog on my 50th birthday, 7 years ago. (2016 has been a crazy year, so January was my last post. However, in the craziness that is my life, it has been my desire and goal to write my annual blog-anniversary/birthday post. So, here it is!)
I'm usually excited about the topics I share. However, when I prayed about what to write, God put on my heart to share a lesson He is teaching me now. In fact, if i'm honest with you (insert long sigh), it's a lesson the Lord has been working on in my life for over 35 years.
It all started in the wee hours of January 1,1980. I was 19, and had just attended a midnight, New Year's Eve church service, where I finally, totally, surrendered all of my messy, mixed-up life to Jesus!
That night, as I quietly slipped into the brisk, dark shadows of a new year, even though everything around me looked the same, everything inside of me was different! I walked to my car filled with an inexplicable peace. And, for the first time, I sensed true conviction of sin. Not shame. Not guilt. Just a knowing that certain things in my life were very wrong and needed to change.
Believe me, I had tried to change a million times before, struggling with all my effort to be a "good girl." But, what I came to understand over time was, because I had given Jesus permission to be Lord of my life that night, I had God's power and supernatural strength not to simply change me, but to radically transform my old life into a new one. Praise God, a few of those changes were immediate and miraculous! But, most of the changes and transformation have taken time, hard work, plus the prayers, wise counsel, support and love of others.
That night, as if blinders were removed from my eyes, one of the sins I saw clearly was that I was a masterful liar. At the same time, I was keenly aware that Jesus wanted me to learn to tell the truth, all the time, about everything. This was a great relief, and a tremendous burden. For instance, I had a job I loved. But, occasionally, I was asked to lie. Because, I didn't have the courage or know how to tell my boss about my new faith or my new convictions, I quit the job. (Not recommending this to anyone, but that's what I did).
Learning to tell the truth, I quickly discovered, was the easy part. The hard part came, over the years, as God revealed other areas of my old sin nature that were related to telling lies. Like peeling back the layers of an onion, He exposed areas of trying to be in control, being manipulative, being deceitful and more.
Every time, I was confident I had finally gained the victory, and was certain there were no more layers to peel off, the Lord would lovingly, but firmly, reveal another. UGH!!! New seasons of life, challenges, changes, and simply the fact that I lived in a body of flesh, continued to expose more and deeper layers within me that God, who loves me enough not to leave me in my mess, invited me to allow Him to transform.
This year, with all it's tangled twists and turns, God has laid bare a new and raw layer in me. This one is not driven by old patterns of malice or deception or telling lies. The source of this layer is at the very core of my being, my character, my heart.
You see, this layer is well-intentioned, trying to fix problems that are not mine to fix. This layer is from the people-pleaser part of me, not wanting to ruffle feathers or hurt or disappoint. And this layer, flows from my deep love for people, a love that finds me saying "yes," when I really need to say, "no." And less often, saying "no," when I should have said, "yes."
This layer is the most painful, yet! But in it, I hear the Lord, the Great Physician, as He does surgery on my heart, with the precision of a sharp scalpel, whisper to me, "Cathy, let your 'yes' be yes, and your 'no' no."
When I went to find these familiar words in my Bible, to my great surprise, they weren't in the red letter part of the gospels. No, this powerful message is in the last chapter of the book of James. James, likely the half-brother of Jesus, wrote this long letter (5 whole chapters) all about our words, our attitudes, our tongue! I spent the last two days reading and studying his letter, before I wrote this post. And basically, although I am not a Biblical scholar, I'd say James sums up his letter with this power passage: "But above all...do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation." James 5:12
So dear reader, as I finish my annual blog-anniversary/birthday post, this is where I'm at. I have a long way to go, but I'm so thankful for the Lord's patient, transforming work in my life. And, my desire in sharing, here and now, is that you might be encouraged in the areas where God is at work (even after years and years) in areas of your heart and life. Praise God, He loves us too much to let us stay unchanged! Lord, do your work. Lord, have Your way!