Friday, July 20, 2012

Beware the Ever Bleeding Soul

Will Thou Be Made Whole?

"The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?" Proverbs 18:14

You can have a sickness or weakness in your body, yet still be emboldened by your spirit to endure and even prosper.  However, who can carry around or lift up a wounded spirit? The implication is that no one can...but there is one who will.

"He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." Psalm 147:3

My children and I used to watch a series that they loved growing up called The Donut Man.  The premise of The Donut Man was that every person is born with something missing in their lives which can only be filled by God.  If I reflect on it, I can still hear my children singing, "Life without Jesus is like a donut, cause there's a hole in the middle of your heart."  LOL

It is true that we are each born with that type of "hole" because what we need and innately seek is to be made whole through reconciliation with the Creator who made us.  I have found it interesting that even adopted children- having been placed in loving homes - often still want to know who their birth parents are.  Even in the natural, there is a yearning to know more about and connect with where we come from.

Whether we know it or not, attempting to fill this "hole" is what drives everything we do in life outside of coming to Christ.  People spend their entire lives trying to, but to no avail.  And it doesn't have to be something illicit they turn to like fornication, alcohol, drugs, stealing, etc.  It can be something as seemingly benign as good works, relationships with others, or religious ritual.

In describing the vanity of this type of effort, Augustine wrote in his book Confessions:
“I carried about me a cut and bleeding soul, that could not bear to be carried by me, and where I could put it, I could not discover. Not in pleasant groves, not in games and singing, nor in the fragrant corners of a garden. Not in the company of a dinner table, not in the delights of the bed: not even in my books and poetry. It floundered in a void and fell back on me. I remained a haunted spot, which gave me no rest, from which I could not escape. For where could my heart flee from my heart?  Where could I escape myself? Where would I not dog my own footsteps?”
There is only one conclusion he could make:
“Dear Lord, You have made us for Yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.
Anything to which we turn in an effort to fill that hole (other than Christ) will never satisfy.  It will make us restless in life until we put our hope in Christ (Psalm Chapter 42).  I mention this and a number of people will gloss over it thinking, "Yes, that is true.  Only Jesus fills the hole in our lives."  Even so, many will try to find something else to fill the void.  They walk around as professing believers, but still with gaping wounds within, always seeking something or someone to fill it.  Yet this should not be.  If Jesus alone fills the hole, and we claim to have Christ, then why are we still carrying these wounds or expecting others to fill them (and being let down when they don't)?

There is a song by Steven Curtis Chapman called "Long Way Home" where the lyrics state in part:

And there's a bag of regrets 
Should of beens and not yets
I keep on dragging around 
And I can hardly wait till the day 
I get to lay them all down

Isn't the day we get to "lay all of these burdens down" the day when we come to Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30)?  We don't have to wait for some day "when we all get to Heaven" to be freed and healed from that which spiritually plagues us.  It is a wrong impression that we must keep nursing these hurts, burdens, and abuses after we have entered into salvation.  If we do not understand that Jesus is the burden-lifter, wound-binder, a heart-healer, and soul-restorer, then we haven't come to know Him as we should. 

I have spoken before about the movie "Pilgrim's Progress: Journey to Heaven". In the movie, a man named Christian is saddled with a huge burden that seems impossible to carry.  In fact, he gets no rest from it.  It is with him everywhere he goes, even in his sleeping hours.

Seeking refuge and help for the destruction that he senses is coming - not only for himself, but for his family - he starts on a road to find an answer.  At one point he comes to Mount Salvation and as he kneels down before the cross, his burdens miraculously unravel and fall down on the ground.  He is then free for the first time in his life as he cries out in thanksgiving to God saying, "You have given me rest by your sorrow, and life by your death."

That was by far not the end of Christian's journey, but in that one scene we see what so many Christians do not seem to understand. We may come to Jesus with a bleeding soul, but we don't have to stay that way.  He is waiting to heal us if we would just trust Him and lay those burdens down at His feet...even right now.

Why go on one moment longer carrying what you were not designed to shoulder and what God tells you that you cannot bear on your own (Proverbs 18:14)?  Aren't you tired of circling in the same wilderness of rejection and bitterness which continue to haunt you, in spite of the smiling face you wear in public?  It is not just words when Jesus says that He will indeed make you free (John 8:36).

Not only is it good for us to be made whole, but we cannot be effective ministers for Christ if we have a bleeding soul within us.  In spite of possible good intentions and no matter how much we may witness to others, we will wind up gathering people up unto ourselves instead of to Christ.  We will use people (their presence, their encouragements, their accolades, their love, their gifts, their prayers, etc.) - even unintentionally - as a crutch to help us fill our void.  Because nothing will ever be enough, this leads to a cycle of continual disappointments, depression, and failed relationships. We become the walking wounded, always feeling that others are responsible for bringing healing to us, thus making even our view of salvation self-centered.  As my pastor used to say (and I paraphrase), "When are you going to stop always being the one in need of prayer and actually become an answer to prayer for someone else?

We also need to be able to recognize when this is in operation in others for it will be a significant physical, emotional, and spiritual drain. This has been referred to as spiritual vampirism, for it sucks the life right out of you (Proverbs 17:22).  This is often present in those who have a spirit of rejection/abandonment as they are constantly in need of reassurance, comforting, and nurturing.  No matter how much you give, it is never enough; it's like trying to fill a black hole.  While some individuals do this in ignorance and just need to be directed to the Lord to be made whole, it is also a tactic of the enemy to distract you and stymy your spiritual growth.  We must understand that some people just don't want to be made whole.  Instead, they would rather have you make them the center of your world, which is idolatry.  They might even try to make you feel like you are not being a Christian if you do not prioritize their needs in your life.  Do not let Satan deceive you by using your zealousness for good works as a snare to bind you to others in inordinate ways. 

"Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? And your labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David." Isaiah 55:1-3

Those in Christ do not have to walk around with bleeding souls.  Those who do need to learn Christ anew (Matthew 11:29).  We must know that the Lord is our Shepherd and He desires to restore our souls (Psalm 23:3).  He knows our wounds and He alone has the balm for them.  There is healing in Jesus and in Him we find rest...when we trust Him.

8 comments:

  1. Dear LDM,

    This article describes where I currently am in my life. I am saddened to say that despite being raised a Christian and choosing to follow him on my own that my soul is still bleeding. A couple years ago, I rededicated my life to Christ and could feel a fire and thirst for Christ restored in my heart and mind. As I tried to pull closer to God, it seemed he only pushed me away. I guess I would best describe this time in my life as a "wilderness" season. Despite what you would call it, I eventually got discouraged and pushed God away. My prayer life has dwindled, along with my desire to learn more of his Word. I find myself trying to please the people around me and constantly feel rejected, bitter and depressed. I see now that I have been trying to fill a void where Christ should be and have not allowed him to make me whole. How do I allow God to restore my soul when my heart as been hardened?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Anonymous,

      You have already taken the first step, which is deciding to stop pretending that things are okay and realizing that you truly do need Jesus. Why go one more step without the presence of His great love realized in your life? He desires to do just that.

      Also, please know that God doesn't push us away. Perhaps you let the lies of the enemy discourage you? The devil is good at that. It is God's desire for all to be reconciled unto Him...and this includes you (I Tim. 2:3-4). He has done everything necessary so that YOU specifically can come to Him; only believe. The only thing in the way of our giving ourselves completely to God is us. Even Satan cannot stop us if we keep our eyes on God and have faith in Him. So be encouraged; God has already made the way, we must simply follow Him.

      "Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." Matthew 13:18-23

      The good vs. stony ground referred to above is the condition of man's heart. All of us start out with hearts of stone, but God is able to give us new hearts which has been circumcised from the flesh and are sensitive to His words (Ezekiel 11:19, 18:31, 36:26; Romans 2:29).

      First, make sure you have repented from sin. This is not just about telling God you are sorry for your sins, it is deciding to adopt an attitude towards sin that lines up with God's. It is acknowledging what sin is and determining to no longer pursue it. It means to turn around and set your affections on God where they may have previously been on the world or even yourself. This doesn't mean you will no longer sin, but if you do, acknowledge it, confess it to the Lord, ask Him to cleanse you and keep on going. Don't get swallowed up your journey, but keep your eyes on the prize (I Cor. 9:24).

      Second, if there is anything in your life that God has put His finger on, take heed. Give up what He leads you to, say what He leads you to, do what He leads you to. In short, obey Him. Anything you hesitate on in terms of obedience to God will be showing you areas of idolatry in yourself that He will want to address. Don't get caught up in excessive self-examination. Just do what He tells you to.

      Feed the New Man and starve the old man. If you want the new life that God gives to grow vs. being strangled off, then feed on that which nourishes your spirit (prayer, studying God's word, spiritual songs, fellowship with the saints...). By that same token, stay away from that which feeds your flesh (wrong relationships, bad conversations, worldly music/tv/media...).

      Remember, you didn't get where you are overnight, so don't get distressed by the journey. It may take time, there may be pitfalls, the devil may intensify his attacks to discourage you, but God has already paved the way for your victory in Him. Ask Jesus to give you a new heart and the strength to continue in Him. Ask Him to give you His Holy Spirit to encourage you and give you the power to walk in victory. He will do all of these things because it is His pleasure to do it.

      God Bless!

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    2. Good Morning Anonymous,

      You were on my mind this morning and I wanted to share the following with you.

      "And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way." Mark 10:46-52

      Please don't pass me by

      LYRICS
      There was a blind man on the road side, and he heard a commotion yeah It was Jesus passing by with a crowd and it stirred his emotions He'd been displaced his whole life, should he even try Ohhhhh

      Don't bother Jesus (they say you have nothing) You have nothing to offer (stay in your place) Right then he knew(he had to choose) He had nothing to lose

      So he cried Jesus(Jesus), I need you, (yeah ah) please don't pass me by He cried out Jesus, I'm not ashamed(to tell you) I need you in my life (I need you in my life yeah)

      Verse 2
      I'm not much different from that man, and this is the honest truth Could this sinful one, with this messed up life, could I ever serve you (Oh oh oh oh)people and things clutter my mind, should I even try Ohhhhhh

      Don't bother Jesus (they say you have nothing) You have nothing to offer (stay in your place) I must admit (when I think about it all) I need you in my life

      So I cry Jesus(Jesus), I need you Please don't pass me by I'm crying out Jesus, I'm not ashamed to tell you I need you in my life

      Bridge
      As the deer (as the deer panted) Thirsty for the water yeah(thirsty for the water) My soul desires and longs to be(to be with you)

      Jesus, I need you, please don't pass me by I don't mean to waste your time but I can't listen to the crowd, situations in my life telling me to keep it down but I need you

      I know I'm broken, but you can heal me, Jesus, Jesus I'm calling you (I might not be worth much)might not be worth much, but I'm still willing Jesus, Jesus, I'm calling you

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    3. Dear LDM,

      I apologize for the late response. I may have replied twice vut I had to make sure you knew I was thankful! THANK YOU so much for taking time out to respond to my concerns with such care!!!

      It makes me feel better that we all start out with hearts of stone and that with due diligence will soften. I must admit these words were truly for me. I felt convicted and realize there have been some areas in my life where I have lacked faith and obedience to the Father.

      Thank you for everything including the beautiful song!

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  2. I am not the Anonoymous you posted this for but I thank you for it anyway.

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    Replies
    1. You are welcome. Be blessed in the Lord today!

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  3. Dear LDM,

    I apologize for my late response. Thank you so much for responding so quickly to my concerns! I greatly appreciate the GREAT work you allow God to do through you on this site! Again, THANK YOU for taking the time out to respond... and with such care and concern!!

    I definitely felt convicted after reading your response and feel charged to make a change. I have nourished my flesh for too long and see that I have lacked faith and obedience in certain areas of my life. My prayer is to be like the deer that panted after the water. I know that this won't be easy but my heart keeps telling me it is well worth it.

    It really touches my heart that someone I have never met could care so much!

    May God continue to bless you and this ministry!!!!!!!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Anonymous,

      You are more than welcome! Just keep in mind that there is nothing from me that could generate such care and concern for another. While you are right that I don't know you, Jesus does know you - inside and out - and He loves you beyond measure. He has only given me one inkling of that love in leading me to intercede for you. So, if this has touched your heart, consider how great a love the Father has for you and how immensely He cares for you.

      Still keeping you in prayer! :-)

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