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  • Writer's pictureSue Bowles

Retracing My Steps

What do I believe? Ever asked yourself that? Even deeper…ever ANSWERED that question? Not with the church answers. Not with the superficial ‘God loves me’ answers. I mean…what do I BELIEVE?! What do my actions say I believe vs. what I ‘say’ I believe? How do they line up? Is there a chasm there? How big? What needs to happen to repair it?

I am learning that question – 4 simple words – forge the foundation upon which my entire life of faith is based. It is the bedrock. It is root level. And if there is ANY stray material there the foundation will crack.

I started on my quest to answer this question last week. I thought about the ‘who I am in Christ’ verses, the Psalms…so many verses. And I settled in to read the “here’s where it all started’ psalm – Psalm 139. More specifically, these verses:

Psalm 139: 13-16 (NASB)

13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; 16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them

I was immediately drawn to a few pillars upon which to build and I want to focus on a key one.

Pillar # 1 – verse 14…”I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.”

Does my soul know it ‘very well’? Does my soul know it at all?! This is GOD speaking….about ME….about MY life. The same life that I might think is a waste at times (don’t we all) or is too screwed up for God to redeem (a typical ragamuffin thought) God says is WONDERFUL! I am FEARFULLY and WONDERFULLY MADE! I did not evolve ‘from the goo to the zoo to you’ as I’ve heard said in the past. I WAS MADE BY THE CREATOR OF THE STARS AND HE SAYS IT IS WONDERFUL!

But why do I not ‘feel’ wonderful? I know…feelings lie…but we are emotional beings and follow the feeling more than anything else. Where did things get off track? And more importantly, how do they get back ON track?

I was looking through my journal this morning and saw a marvelous theme. I looked at things from the last couple months…..from the ‘applying the hard lessons of the retreat to real life’ struggles. And it was cool. Really cool.

What I saw as I thought about where I am right now with things is simply this: there is great value in retracing your steps. We are ‘live in the moment’ beings. We see 2 feet in front of us and don’t concern ourselves with the bigger picture much of the time. We want immediate gratification. We live ‘in the now’ – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, text messaging. It all keeps us in the moment and robs us of the bigger vision. Unknowingly our way of thinking changes. There is something very powerful to be said about being ‘old school’ with some of this stuff. The tools themselves are neutral and not wrong…what we allow them to become in our lives determines the degree of their effect on us…and that can be good or bad.

For me, right now, I am still struggling to a certain degree with telling my whole ragamuffin story….you know…the nitty gritty where the rubber meets the road. It’s easier to tell the stuff that is more common in most folks’ lives but when there are things that the large majority of folks probably don’t experience, extra thought (and fear) goes into considering what to share. Now there is some wisdom in that. No one is saying every detail of life MUST be shared, but there is something bigger going on behind the scenes. It’s that ‘bigger picture’ thing. It’s not so much in the sharing or not sharing…the issue is in the willingness to share. It’s an attitude. It’s a heart issue. And THAT is worth the struggle and the fight to work through. Ultimately it’s a Lordship issue. And that is vital. Paramount. It MUST be worked through for true freedom to be found…experienced…..lived! And that is where I live right now.

A friend shared a book with me and there’s a quote in the book Embraced By The Light by Betty J. Eadie and it reads: “Why didn’t I know this before?…..and the answer was ingrained in me. It sank into the deepest part of my soul, changing my outlook on trials and opposition forever: ‘You needed the negative as well as the positive experiences on earth. Before you can feel joy, you must know sorrow.’” (p. 114)

I can’t begin to tell you how those lines have penetrated my heart. It sent me on a quest….to retrace my steps. So as I read my journal from the last couple of months I see a theme pulsating…and it’s really God’s heartbeat for me. It’s simply this: I want to use your story but you need to embrace all of it first before I can.

It’s a matter of my attitude…..my heart….getting past any lingering shame or embarrassment or fear…and just letting God do His thing His way. Lordship.

A couple days ago I was enjoying some devotional time and God ambushed my pen and journal page and wrote a letter to me instead. I want to share it in hopes it challenges you as it has challenged me. Retrace your steps. See where you got off course. Deal with any attitude issues. And let Him use you. Don’t get in His way.

Be God’s –

Sue

PS – as I typed this just now I realized something…..even sharing this much is sharing my story up to this point. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to have to have this huge thing at the ready….just share the latest chapter of the story as it’s constantly being written. And I just realized that nugget as I typed. He never ceases to surprise me.

–———————————————–

From my journal – 2/13/15

“I want you to tell your story Sue, because your story is really My story, and My story needs to be told. Someone out there needs to hear what you have to say. I’ve designed it that way. It’s how this person will hear best, and I want them to hear. I love them as much as I love you, and they need to experience it – Me – My love – just as you have and do. But you still fight Me. Why do you want to reject the story – My story – that I’ve written for you? Do you not like what I wrote? But I am the author – as Pilate said, ‘what I have written I have written.’ You are still stuck on the why – not as much as before – but it lingers. And it trips you up. Let go. Once and for all, let go. Surrender. No one else can do it for you. Let Me love you. MORE than what you experienced at retreat. Are you afraid your heart can’t handle it? I will give you the capacity. As soon as you let go….for when you let go I have room to work. I love you. I need you. You have an important role to play in my plan. Let me use you. You ARE fearfully and wonderfully made….and I want the world to see it.

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