BY: DAVE GARNER
MAY 9, 2008
One of the hardest things for me to accept is that I am unable to visibly see or perceive my spiritual progress, right now at this very moment. I would love to be able to see myself growing. It would be neat to be able to look into a mirror and actually see and be conscious of my inner spiritual growth. I wrestle sometimes with looking back and evaluating my future by my past experiences. It is easy to look back and see where we have been, but then it is quite another to look forward and hold a clear picture in our minds of what we are aspiring to become or where we want to be. The memories of the past always seem to be bold and clear, but the problem with this is those memories are loaded not only with our successes, but with our failures, and it is unfortunate but it is the failures which tend to draw our attention more often than do our successes. Instead of my thoughts remaining in the realm of limitless possibilities, believing the words of Jesus when He said all things are possible, it is too easy to turn and look behind and limit what could be by what has been.
I know that as long I keep God limited and confined only to the perimeters I have established for myself through my own personal understanding and beliefs of Him, which is based upon my past perception of Him through events, reflections and experiences, God can at times become pretty small, especially if I am being confronted with big personal problems. That same confinement can also cause me to lose sight of my hope of a better outcome for myself. The minute I take my eyes away from my hope or my expectation of a better tomorrow; that inner determination to achieve begins to wane and frustration and hopelessness begins to push their way into my being. I have learned that when that inner energy power plant that motivates and inspires me begins to shut down, I can very quickly find myself turning my thoughts inward to become self focused, which allows room for the spirit of futility and thoughts of “what’s the use things aren’t going to change,” room to grow and settle in within and around me.
I have become acutely aware that I must see Him as being much larger within me then what I am facing outside of me; and before I can do that, I must see Him as being much larger outside of me as well. In order to be able to fully enter into this resting place in Him, my understanding of Him and who He is within me and outside of me, must grow so He can encompass every aspect of my life, both inwardly and outwardly. When there is a part of me which does not understand and has not fully accepted Him or recognized His authority, it allows room for doubt and unbelief to grow, which in turn becomes an obstacle which blocks my present vision of what could be and prevents me from confidently reaching for a greater expectation of resting in Him. If I am not watchful I am subject to accepting the failures of yesterday as being the limitations placed upon my today and my tomorrows. Before I can enter into that place of rest, I must see Him as being much bigger, much larger, than whatever events, circumstances, emotional turmoil or conditions and challenges that I am presently facing and will most certainly have to face in the future.
God has used our struggle to lose weight and gain control over our health as an example to teach us how to rest in Him, and showed us how this principle applies in all other areas of our life as well. We began to see the need to do something to restore our health, as both of us were physically suffering to such a degree it was negatively affecting every area of our life. We began by trying several diets and even made a few resolutions, but none were effective. As we began to seek the Lord about our health, as this was the primary reason for our desire to lose weight, the Lord opened up a flood gate of information over the internet that began to meet our needs. Sheila began to do extensive research and would read the information she received to me, and a new vision of what we could become began to take form. A determination to take the necessary steps to change began to resolve itself in our hearts. One thing became very clear to us; we had been uneducated and undisciplined in our eating habits, our unwillingness to exercise was really hurting us and a lack of understanding of how are body functions was killing us. We had unintentionally succumbed to the desires and will of the flesh.
Before we began experiencing serious health issues I saw no reason to make changes, therefore I had no inner motivation or resolve to do anything about my physical body. But, the more information she received, the more knowledge we had and the more we became aware that we ourselves were the major cause of our growing health problems. We were suffering the results of our ignorance, lack of personal discipline, our unwillingness to change, and really the biggest of all, we did not want to face and take responsibility for the truth; we had the choice to do something about it. Therefore we resolved together within our hearts to place ourselves under obedience to the remedy, the recipe that God had given to us to make the necessary changes, and as we did a picture of what we could be began to form within our minds. We settled in our hearts what we were going to do and everyday we fed that picture of what we wanted to see happen within our bodies by feeding our minds and spirits with a positive flow of information. We have made this a habit and a daily part of our activities. We did not allow ourselves to dwell on other people’s advice about what we should be doing, ours and other people’s past failures, our present limited resources nor anything else negative, but tuned our ears to listen to what the Spirit of the Lord was saying personally to us, and kept our eyes focused upon our hope for the future. She would look up recipes and we would experiment with different types of food and gradually over time we began to lose the pounds. Excitement about the possibilities of what could be began to grow and the change that began to take place within us was phenomenal.
On one occasion I inadvertently allowed my focus to be averted. I began to check my weight every morning and each time I would step on the scales, it would cause me to measure my progress from what I was the day before, and it would remind me of what I had been, not what I could be. Slowly I began to be drawn back into a wrestling match with my weight by feeding that overweight picture of myself with negative thoughts. My weight was actually a physical manifestation of an inner bigger problem, and instead of focusing upon the remedy I began to focus on the problem. Each time I stepped on the scales I was unconsciously validating my suspicions, I was still overweight. Again, I had to forcibly turn away from the scales and refocus my attention upon the positive aspirations of the goal I was striving for, and it once again formed within me inspiration, motivation, determination and a will to take the next step forward. Every time I would look back, it produced within me the picture of what I had been and past failures, not only in my health, but in other areas of my life as well. It sort of had the snow ball effect as it rolled down hill it kept getting bigger and bigger.
I have discovered that if all I have to measure God’s effectiveness and power with, is my limited understanding of Him and what I perceive Him as within me at this present moment, in contrast to the feelings, emotions, events or circumstances that I am confronted with on a day to day basis both positive and negative, I will quickly find myself searching to find meaning or purpose for being. For, if I hold God’s measurements limited to and constrained only to that essence or presence of Him that is contained within my perception or understanding of Him, then I must settle for and accept whatever condition, circumstance or situation I am in as being the limit of God’s design for me. This is when I develop a victim mentality; God does not love me and is not for me. God is only as much and as big as I perceive Him to be within me in comparison too whatever obstacle or hardship I am confronted with. I can only perceive Him as being or acting on my behalf only to the limit of my faith or trust in Him. All aspirations of personal expansion and growth are swallowed up in the limitations I have placed upon Him within myself.
God is so much bigger than my understanding of Him, much more than I could even begin to comprehend, but the measure of His essence, His being that impacts my life and my relationship to Him, is only as big as I allow Him to be within me. For it is clear that I tend to measure the power and impact of God upon my life, according to the picture I have developed of Him through all of the events, information received, and personal experiences of the past, or my learned response. On a personal interactive level, He is only able to meet my needs proportionate to my faith in Him and how much I believe He accepts and loves me. If I feel that I have not lived up to even my own expectations, when I do approach God I will do so in the spirit of unworthiness, feeling that He might not accept me. The truth is I sometimes catch myself trusting Him only as much as I do the fellow looking at me in the mirror.
I know that it is possible to comprehend and feel God’s presence every moment at every breath, and I yearn to do so, yet outside distractions are still able to pull my thoughts away. I would love to just be able to recognize His presence within me twenty-four seven, anywhere and in any situation or condition to such a degree that nothing outside of me; no event, no condition, no opposing spirit, no wayward emotion or physical condition or situation, no negative contact I have with anyone, is able to turn my thoughts away from my aspirations, assurance and confidence in Him. At this present moment, I am very aware that I have not yet attained to this dwelling place of inner peace, this confidence, this assurance, this realm of resting in Him that I desire to attain, but I do have this hope set before me. It is my hope for a better me, a more enlightened me, that gives me the momentum to keep going forward, to take action and take the next step and reach for tomorrow in expectation, aspiring to become. It is the strength of the faith developed within me, derived not from dwelling on my failures, but facing them and making the necessary corrections to adjust my course, then refocusing back upon the goal with the new course corrections; that provides me with the energy and momentum to take the next step forward and succeed. It is by successfully overcoming obstacles in my path that builds up and establishes a history within me of being victorious, which adds to my faith the knowledge that I by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, am able to do all things through the Anointed Word of Truth that I accept and learn from, believe in and live by within my being.
ASPIRATIONS [Dave Garner] 5-9-08 1