The ladies' Bible study and I are in a 6 session study by Lysa Terkeurst called, "Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl." This last week, week 3 of the study, has probably been the most personally challenging to me thus far. There are several reason for this. Let me share some of her thoughts first, though.
Key phrase #1 of this session: We must operate IN God's love, WITH God's love, in order that we may REFLECT God's love.
Lysa sets forth the premise that if we allow let God's love cover our own insecurities we would then better use those insecurities to serve others. To overcome our insecurities we must CHOOSE to operate under the Word of Truth-- i.e. memorize those verses of Scripture that speak directly to our own areas of insecurity and choose to believe the TRUTH when it comes to that area. (Thus, operating in God's love.) "Operating in God's love means understanding how His love can redefine my natural thought processes. Using God's Word, I can fill my thoughts with His truths to combat the lies tangles around my feelings." (p. 90)
She then goes on to say, having accepted God's love as truth for ourselves, we can then operate with God's love and allow his truth to be the catalyst by which we serve others. When we can get past our own thoughts about what others may think of us, we can then serve them more fully. (I.E. We can choose to open our home to a neighbor or fellow church member and not be afraid of what she might think of our broken couch or squeaky table -- or is that just me that has those two items? I can open my home being secure in the fact that it's not possessions that make others feel welcomed or make me "look good", it's my willingness to minister to others that is pleasing to God and that's all that matters.)
By operating in God's love and with God's love, you can see then how natural it would be that we then would reflect His love. It's an outflowing of the inner flowing peace and beauty He is creating in us by allowing Him to fill up all those insecurities instead of looking to other "people, possessions, or positions" (phrase used in session 1 by Lysa) to do that for us.
Now, that all SOUNDS good, but really. That's just TOO easy, right? Here's the catch: the comparison trap! We wake up in the morning and we feel good and we read some Bible, have some coffee, sing some songs, go about our day (doing good so far) and then, as it is for me, go to some one's house that night and see their beautiful leather (leather is good for children because when illness comes knocking, then you don't have to try to Resolve your way out of that vomit stain! So if I could, I'd want leather right now =) couch...brown, just the way I'd like, and suddenly I don't feel so "God is great" any more. I begin to doubt His provision is enough-- and I end up dwelling in the land of discontentment, while all the while I have so. many. stinking. wonderful. blessings. sitting. right. in. front. of. me! Would a couch really fix my discontentment anyway?!
Oh, there are so many other "more important" comparisons -- jobs, relationships, health,etc. -- the list goes on for miles and it's so hard to combat those thoughts of wanting things we don't have. But continuing to do so is a sin (remember that "do not covet" phrase?) that has consequences (discontentment and leads to resentment that leads to bitterness= a really ugly person and miserable testimony for Christ) which is why God tells us NOT to covet in the first place! (He's so wise!)
Then Lysa reminds us of a great truth. She says, "Too many of us live with an uncontrolled thought life. It is possible to learn to identify destructive thoughts and make wiser choices. Instead of letting these thoughts rumble freely about in my mind, I make the choice to harness them and direct them toward truth." (p101,102) And, what we haven't stopped to consider, is that for every person that has...a beautiful brown leather couch, let's just say... that person also has their own burdens (and that couch may just be the best part of their life.) We ASSUME other people's lives are one way, and in reality we just never know what burdens and hardships they have to deal with.
Lysa says something that is meant to help us when we're in the thick of mental battle with comparing our situation to anothers'. I think will stick with me for the rest of my earthly life and I hope you will find worth the time it took for you to read this lengthy blog :
Key phrase #2: "I am not equipped to handle what they have -- both good and bad." (p. 99)