Advice from one missionary to another

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Recently I read some wise words from a veteran missionary to those out on the itineration trail raising their funds.  I won’t use the author’s name because he’s serving in what we call a “sensitive region” or a country that doesn’t want missionaries… go ahead and read between those lines.  So I will only say that these are not my words, but I totally agree with them and wanted to share them here.  I hope this wise advice finds fertile soil in some missionary’s heart.

A Warning to the Itinerant:

Missionaries are given the immense privilege of representing God’s heart to both the nations and the church. When we return from our fields of obedience we are invited into pulpits – grand and humble – to speak on behalf of both the lost and the Lord. We are feted and lauded – which can lead to pride. We observe shallowness and performance – which can lead to a critical spirit. The more we travel and speak, the more we must beware our own hearts. I sat down this weekend and wrote out some warnings to myself:

– I do not deserve the pulpit, I have not ‘earned’ it.
– I am not better than the ones I preach to.
– I cannot presume God’s favor or anointing
– I cannot live in sin and call others to holiness
– My life has to match my exhortations
– I can’t rely on old sermons. I am responsible to give God’s flock fresh bread. If a sermon is to be re-used, it must be fresh to my soul.
– I cannot allow any whisper of entitlement into my heart. I am not owed praise, respect, attention, or any financial offering.
– I cannot think my looks, height, posture, style, or natural ability is important, nor that natural gifts can in any way impart divine life to the hearer.
– I cannot waste God’s time or money with half-hearted preparation, reflection, passion, or effort.
– The flock must see and feel that I love them, and more importantly that I love Jesus.
– My spirit must be gentle even if my words are hard.
– I must have true humility and lowliness. Nothing is as proud or as rank as false humility, whether to the individual or before the congregation.
– I must care more about what God thinks than man, and must obey His promptings and speak as His oracle.
– If I do not ascend to the pulpit clothed and endued with the Holy Spirit, I am immediately exposed as naked and foolish before God, and it will not be long until I am exposed as a fraud before all men.
– I must have a holy terror of speaking in my own strength or from my own wisdom. I must have a heavenly horror of speaking what is false, exaggerated, or misleading. I must be terrified of speaking one word without the covering and impetus of the Spirit.

I noted with sadness this weekend that even if all is said in the right spirit and under God’s authority, some ears remain deaf, and others hear selectively. We cannot control our hearers, nor are we responsible for how they hear. We are responsible for what and how we speak. It is incumbent on us to speak the words of God in the way and spirit He requires. This is a fearful and awesome privilege. God help us. God watch over our hearts and lips.

 

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Soul Care

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I have not blogged for a couple of weeks now.  I’m just breathing in and out every day, doing my job, taking care of responsibilities.  I’ve been focusing on Soul Care issues with any spare strength I find.  Boundaries- I’m pushing back those boundary lines that have crept too close to the center, giving myself space to breathe.  One of those boundaries is pulling away from social media for who knows how long- until I feel more like myself and less like a conglomeration of acquaintances who share a page in cyberspace.  I had already been toying with the idea of not blogging so much because it was starting to feel like homework.  I need to go back to the place where writing brought me joy and for me, that means less structure and more spontaneity.

Another boundary I’ve decided to resurrect is to read more real books.  Reading articles and news headlines on line has not been renewing my mind enough to be refreshing.  I have been spending my weekends curled up in a comfy chair with a good book, ignoring the world as much as I can.  I still have to do ministry things on the weekends and take my kids to birthday parties and go to church, but I’ve decided not to feel guilty about guarding my weekends and doing what I enjoy for once.

And finally, I have been making space in my schedule to have those coffee dates with friends that I have neglected the last few months.  Even though I don’t have much to give them, just being with them, hearing their life updates, and enjoying their friendship has brought me joy.  I need to do that more often.  A friend of mine came into town as she traveled from Thailand to Dallas to Costa Rica and home to Argentina.  I dropped everything and told my husband, “Find your own dinner and take care of the kids.  Don’t call my cell phone asking when I’m going to come home.  I’m going to be with my friend for as long as I possibly can.”  And it was a magical 5 hours of talking and laughing long after the coffee and dessert was gone.  (Waiters here never bring the bill until you ask for it, they just expect that you’ll sit as long as you want after you’ve eaten.  It’s all about relationships in Latin America.)  I needed that time with her.

So here I am, just living each day one by one.  I wake up every morning and ask the Lord for the strength to get through today, for the wisdom that I will need to do my job, for the Lord to bless the work of my hands.  Having boundaries and knowing what my soul needs to be energized are part of my Soul Care plan.  You’ll see me around the blogger-sphere more sporadically for a while.  Thank you for all your loyal readership over the last 2 years.  Let’s bump into each other again soon.

P.S.  I do have a blog going up tomorrow too.  So come back then.

Depression is a hand on the throat

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Depression is a hand on the throat, around the throat, squeezing the air out of your body.   It’s a heavy, wet blanket wrapped around your head, air molecules dodging water droplets.  Breathing comes in jagged waves- gasping for air, for life, for a life saving hand as your head goes down under again.  Depression is that 20 second pause after a fall when you look up at the clear blue sky, perfectly blue, achingly blue and you wonder how you got down here.  You wonder why your ribs are crushing your lungs.  It’s the split second before you gasp and choke and suck in air like shards of glass.  It’s getting the wind knocked out of you, over and over and over again, eyes to the sky and the blue pressing down on my chest.

There are moments where it takes all my energy just to keep breathing.  I close my eyes against the dazzling blue and try to remember why I like breathing.

If there was a reason, I could find it.  If there was a problem, I could fix it.  If there was something out of place, I could readjust.  But that’s the intangible, untouchable nature of boxing with shadows.  Nothing is lost.  Nothing is wrong.  Nothing is unjust or wicked or fraudulent or negligent.  All is right in my little world, just not inside of me.  If depression is a vapor, a fog; then anger is a liquid.  Hot tears.

“See Honey, I’m just slicing an onion.  It’s just a strong onion that’s making mommy cry.”  My hand with the knife moves automatically.  Really, I wouldn’t mind just eating cereal for the third meal of the day.

My eyes don’t need to look around me, for I can sense the shame collecting in piles of clutter.  And I have forgotten which mounds of laundry are clean and which are dirty.  And the crumbs under the dinning room table sigh at me and feel overwhelming tonight.  And the dog has taken up a forbidden position on the couch pillows, yet I just can’t muster the energy to scold him, or to pet him for that matter.

Days slip through my fingers faster than my dry eyes can make fresh tears.  I coil and uncoil myself around a pillow, back to bed now up again, night and day, dusk and dawn.  The most significant moment of the day is when I close my eyes and feel the globe spinning, sucking the air out of my lungs again, and I sleep.

The Godfathers

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If you ever get invited to a wedding in another culture, you should go.   Without hesitation- just go.  It will be so worth it!  We were honored to be invited to the church wedding of two of the young people that we have been working with the past 3 years.  (The civil ceremony which makes the wedding legal happened a few days before.)  The first thing we attempted to do was to discover the protocol for gift giving.  What kind of gift is appropriate to give?  How much money are guests expected to spend?  Are gifts brought to the ceremony or sent to the house ahead of time?  Is there any such thing as a gift registry?  Those are the questions we asked.

The answers were not so easy to come by.  After asking many people, both gringos and Ticos we learned that there were some upscale stores that do a gift registry.  Our couple had listed a store on their invitations… though often times there is no formal paper invitation to be had since there is no mail service delivered directly to the houses here… because there are no addresses, obviously.  Duh.  However, we were given a hand delivered invitation with the name of a store on it.  My husband proceeded to ask around for the location of the store.  He eventually found a website with no wedding registry information on it, but he did find the phone number.  After many calls to the store which was in a different city, my husband placed an order for a gift and asked for it to be delivered to the couple… after we got directions to the house where they were going to live.

So we thought that we all set.  We were familiar with the city where the wedding would be held and Josh had actually been to the church before, so we were good.  The last time we tried to go to a wedding in another town we spent 6 hours wandering lost in the mountains before we decided that we probably missed the wedding and we should just head home.  Turns out weddings don’t start on time either.  We probably could have made it still.

On our way to the wedding, the store called and asked when Josh wanted to come pick up the gift.  He was shocked!  He told them, “You were supposed to deliver the gift yesterday!  If you deliver it today, no one will be at the house.  They are all at the church!”  So after some bickering back and forth, they agreed to have someone deliver the gift the following day.  Strike one for the wedding guests.

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

When we arrived at the church, we were sure the ceremony would not be starting on time.  The groom was standing out front waiting for us.  Josh whispered to me, “Oh I hope they don’t ask me to say anything spur of the moment!”  Well he lucked out, all the groom wanted to know was if we would be the “Padrinos” or Godparents of the newly weds.  My husband said we would be honored, but what do the Padrinos do?  The groom laughed like we were making a joke and said, “Oh, you just pay for the wedding.”  (Costa Ricans love teasing and sarcasm.)  And we all laughed… nervously.  We still had no clue what was expected of us.

As we walked into the sanctuary, I grabbed the sister of the groom and whispered, “Where do we sit and what do the Godparents do?”

She shrugged and pointed to the back of the center aisle.  “Just wait here for instructions.”  She said it didn’t matter which side we sat on.  We chose seats in the middle of one of the sections since we didn’t want to presume that the Padrinos would walk down the aisle or be seated at the front.  We were wrong in our humble assumptions.  Strike two for the gringos.

I was actually surprised that we started within an hour of when the invitation said the wedding would start.  I had heard that often times the time on the invitation is when the wedding preparations start for the bride.  So if the wedding starts at 10:00 am, that means the bride will be getting in the shower at 10:00.  The family might sit down to lunch while she gets ready and by 3:00 pm, everyone will be making their way to the church.  No one really knows when the service will actually start.  And no one is bothered by this except the Americans.

In Costa Rica, there is an M.C. that directs the ceremony calling each person down in their proper order like fashion models walking down the cat walk.  “And now we have the grandmother of the bride being escorted by her grand-nephew.  And now we have the Padrinos, please walk to the front Josh and April.”  We hastily jumped up from our seats, ran up the side aisle and walked back down the center aisle together.  At the head of the aisle I looked to the announcer for directions about which side to sit on or if we were supposed to come up on the stage or stay standing along the front like groomsmen.  He was already on to the next fashion models and we were left awkwardly standing at the front.  We slid discretely down into the front pew.  Strike three for the totally lost Padrinos.

Both sets of parents sat across the aisle from us in the front pew and the sister of the groom sat next to me.  It was all totally disorganized and no one seemed to care.  When we realized that we were the only ones who were bothered by this, we let the blush cool on our cheeks and relaxed our tense shoulders.  “Pura Vida” we whispered to each other.  That is the Costa Rican motto which really means “No worries mon!”  Just go with the flow.

After the ceremony we were uncertain what would happen next.  The announcer did something totally surprising.  He said, “If anyone wants their picture with the bride and groom, just come up on the stage.”  So for an hour the guests pushed and cajoled for a spot in line to have their picture taken with the new couple.  It was like a mad receiving line with iPhone cameras flashing everywhere.  Totally disorganized, and again, no one cared.

We didn’t know if there was a reception somewhere.  We didn’t see any gifts on a table anywhere.  (For the record, I did see some relatives whisk some packages into a car earlier on.)  We loitered around the back of the sanctuary talking with guests and family, waiting for some kind of sign.  When the groom finally said he had to get going, we figured that was the end of it.  We headed home to San Jose… hungry.

I had heard of weddings where there was indeed a beautiful cake on a table, but it turned out that the cake was cardboard and only one little disk at the top was real for cutting for the photo.  It seems that Hollywood has influenced Costa Rican culture in a way where young couples thought they wanted a cake since that’s what they do in the movies, but no one knew what to do with it.  And since cakes can be insanely expensive here (Most people don’t bake or even know how to use their ovens.  They store their Tupperware in their ovens.) they opt for a fake cake that looks good in the pictures.  So I was bracing for no cake.  I was quite shocked at no reception at all.  Strike four for the hungry Godparents.

The lessons we learned at the wedding made us feel honored that our friends had opened this cultural portal for us.  We left feeling proud to have navigated another pot-hole filled mile of culture and for having not embarrassed ourselves too badly by not knowing what was going on.  We were able to “roll with the punches” and we survived.  Plus we learned that not much flusters a Costa Rican, so we should just relax and enjoy the Pura Vida too.

Hurry! Black Friday has started!

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The idea of Black Friday just hasn’t quiet caught on here in Costa Rica.  I would guess it’s partially because we don’t have a holiday like Thanksgiving to anchor the shopping day to.  So the idea of a big sale day just kind of hangs like a vague nebulous on the calendar sometime around this end of the year.

Even the concept of a “sale” doesn’t ring true here.  The the English words “sale” and “outlet” are used here, but they really just mean “come here and look”.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that prices are any different that before.  So between these two missing links in the culture- lack of a holiday and false cognates in the language- Black Friday just hasn’t clicked here.

Yesterday I saw a true example of this awkward adoption of American culture.  We passed a sign advertising a Black Friday sale from October 18 – November 3.  I wish I could have gotten my iPod out fast enough to snap a picture of the sign.  But in reality, I was laughing too hard to actually hold the camera still enough for a shot.

It’s these kinds of misunderstandings that just tickle my funny bone.  That’s probably why I get such a kick out of the website engrish.com where people post photos of misused, misspelled, or mispronounced English words found on signs and packages and t-shirts around the world.  But be forewarned, I am in no way responsible if you pee your pants while laughing at this website.  Laugh at your own risk… and You’re Welcome.

The Anti Nesting Instinct

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We still have 8 month left of this term.  Itineration is still too far away to begin disengaging from responsibilities and friendships.  But I can tell that I’ve already begun to lean into the change.  How can I tell, you may ask?  I have noticed a purging impulse has been activated in me.  I call it “The Anti Nesting Instinct”.

When a mother is waiting for a baby to be born, she starts frantically putting the house in order in preparation for her new arrival.  The Honey-Do list starts to fill up with all those little household repairs that have been ignored for so many months or years.  Mom-to-be starts filling up the house with new purchases and organizing drawers full of teeny tiny clothing.  That’s The Nesting Instinct.

Photo credit: jamelah / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: jamelah / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

So, logically, The Anti Nesting Instinct involves purging, cleaning out, throwing out, and giving away things.  It is recognized in the peacefulness of gazing contently into a nearly empty closet.  Its joy is magnified with each new pile of possessions successfully delivered to its new owners.  My recycling bin runneth over.

Last Saturday I tackled my daughters’ bed room.  It was a hoarder’s paradise.  The amount of cardboard and paper that I hauled out of their room was horrifying.  The scraps of old craft projects, plastic bottles rescued from the recycling bin, and half colored pieces of paper were pretty much the only things holding up my middle child’s bed.  I removed 4 full garbage bags of pure trash from their room, a mountain of toys and books that they had grown out of, and another bag full of clothes to give away.  This morning my daughter told me that she’s been opening and closing her closet door just for fun.  I understand this since more than once this week I’ve stood gazing with satisfaction into their super clean and nearly empty closet.  I love an organized closet.

Yes, the urge to purge has even manifested itself in my work at school.  I am tackling disorganization, clutter, and an absurd amount of pure junk that has been stored here since Jesus was a small child.  I am busting through cobwebs and pawing through moldy boxes in search of anything useful for my teachers before I dump the contents of a whole cabinet in the recycling bin.  Clean is a beautiful moment.

So even though it’s really too early to start thinking about leaving on itineration, my emotions are releasing their connection to the things I live with.  I have a mental To-Do list with dates attached to each task.  I will tackle these projects one by one and whittle away the last few months before we must face the overwhelming task of packing up the house for storage.  The Anti Nesting Instinct has kicked in.

Rain

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October is the rainiest month of the Rainy Season here in Costa Rica.  I actually love it.  We don’t get fall.  We don’t get first snows.  We don’t get more than a 20 degree change in temperature between “seasons”.  We get rain… and lots of it.  A few weeks ago the news was reporting that in one 6 hour period we got as much as 15 days worth of rain!  I don’t know how to tell you exactly how that compares to 15 days worth of rain in YOUR part of the world, but for us, it was like standing under a water fall for 6 hours straight!

Photo credit: Cia de Foto / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: Cia de Foto / Foter / CC BY

I have no problem believing in the story of Noah and a world wide flood after having lived in Costa Rica.  In our first year here, back in 2010, it actually DID rain for 40 days straight.  (I bought a light box after that to fight the seasonal depression of sunless days.)  You should have seen the mud slides and washed away roads around here.  A whole community was wiped out when the side of the mountain slipped out from under a community of shanty houses built on stilts.  It was sad.   Sometimes it rains so hard here that the man hole covers float away!  Water will be gushing UP out of the storm sewers and will pop off the heavy metal covers and sweep them away.  You never want to drive into a deep puddle or you run the risk of landing your front tire in a man hole.

We also have sink holes here.  The soil is very silty and volcanic.  Plus the road construction technique here is basically to just roll out a slab of black top right on the top soil.  There is no substructure under most roads.  So when the heavy rains come, it often washes the dirt away from UNDER the road.  I remember once when we were in language school someone snapped a photo of a car tipped nose down into a newly opened sink hole.  They said when they walked to school the car was fine, but when they came home, the car was totally sunk into the hole!  People were putting a ladder down into the hole to get the driver out since apparently he was just starting up his car when it dropped 8 feet or so.  Right now our main highway is under major construction since a sink hole opened up under a newly erected Bailey Bridge which immediately fell just two days after it’s “grand opening”.  We are familiar with sink holes.

Photo credit: Jonathan Kos-Read / Foter / CC BY-ND

Photo credit: Jonathan Kos-Read / Foter / CC BY-ND

But inspite of all the havoc that the rain wreaks on the country, I find it cozy and comforting.  I don’t mind carrying umbrellas.  I have cute rain boots.  And I always say, “I won’t melt in the rain.  I’m not made of sugar.”  So getting a little damp isn’t a big deal.  I just put on dry socks at home and crank up the dehumidifier in my closet to keep my clothes from getting overly damp and clammy.  (Nothing worse than putting on clammy pajamas and climbing into a bed with damp sheets.)  That dehumidifier was a worthy purchase.

On rainy days I would love to be able to curl up in bed with my Kindle and a cup of Earl Grey tea and just listen to the white noise of the rainy world outside.  I don’t mind the rainy season.  I guess I’m in the right place.

Life is not fair

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“The coach stacked the team.”

“What do you mean?”  I asked my son.  He was sitting next to me on the bottom step of the bleachers, panting and sipping water from a squeeze bottle.

“The coach picked all his favorite players and put them on the other team.”

“So, you’re saying the teams aren’t fair?”  I was stalling as I contemplated what to say or do next.  I don’t believe that parents should always rush in and fix their kids’ problems for them.  I don’t like it when parents control the outcomes in favor of their kids.

“Yeah, basically.” My son responded with disgust and discouragement.

“So what do we do when life is unfair?”  I asked him.

“Suck it up and work harder,”  He responded immediately.  I smiled at his interpretation of our family values.

“Exactly.  When the teams are unfair, you’ll have to work harder to beat the other guys.  That’s all there is to it.”  And I sent him back to his team.  I wasn’t sure what he would do with that.  But I was proud to see that for the next half of the soccer game, he really stepped it up and gave it his all.  So much so, that he took a direct hit at close range and his ankle swelled up like a golf ball.  (Hopefully it will look better in the morning after ice, elevation and ibuprofen.)

Way to go Boy!  Not only did you give the other team a run for their money that night, but you demonstrated to me that you have absorbed the family values of no whining and no complaining, work hard and make the most of what life gives you.  You’re team didn’t win, but you have a strong character and solid values.  You’re a good sport in both games and in life.  I’m proud of you, Son.

Rescued from Drowning

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When I was in elementary school, my dad was hired as our church youth pastor.  I thought it was the best thing that could ever happen to a 4th grader because my sister and I got to go to all the youth group events:  hay rack rides, roller skating nights, camp outs, and bon fires.  On one of these summer events, we went tubing down the Apple River, splashing each other and flipping each other’s tubes as we floated down the lazy river.

The top end of the river had been dammed to make a small lake with an island in the center.  It was a small dam because at its headwaters, the river is not much more than a creek.  The small dam was sloped in a way that we could ride our inner tubes down it like a big water slide and at the end of the slide we were rolled and tumbled in the curl of water where the dam met the river.  It was great fun!

While we were waiting our turns on the dam slide (haha, I just made myself giggle) we paddled around the little lake and explored the island.   Some of us invented a sort of game where four of us would all sit on the sides of the same tube and on the count of three we’d all fall backwards into the lake.  Over and over again we’d scramble back up the sides of the tube, laughing and splashing the whole time.  It was great fun to be included in games with the teenagers!

I was having a blast until the very last moment.  No one gave a single thought to the fact that this last load of kids on the inner tube was very mismatched in weight.  We all counted to three and arched our backs to flop into the lake, but since I was the lightest in the group, the inner tube flipped over on top of me.  Before I could get out from under it, the other kids were scrambling back on top of the tube, their feet kicking me as I was trapped under the now fully loaded tube.

I was running out of breath, but I decided that to get out from under their feet I needed to swim deeper and then to the right.  Unfortunately when I sank deeper, my feet became tangled in the weeds at the bottom of the lake.  That’s when I got scared.  I could see the circle of sunlight in the center of the inner tube above me, legs dangling through the hole.  I reached up my hand, but I couldn’t touch anyone.

My lungs were burning.  I was scared.  “This is it,” I thought sadly.  “I’m going to drown within inches of the surface of the water.”  I stretched my arm a little higher, praying that someone would see me.

Suddenly, one of the teenage boys plunged his hand into the water and grabbed my hand with a strong grip.  He pulled me up hard.  As I broke through the surface that had seemed so far out of my reach, I gasped for air.  The boy didn’t say a word, but he draped my arms over the edge of the tube and began paddling towards the shore.  Everyone else on the tube was giggling and splashing, completely unaware of the fact that I had just nearly drowned.  The boy and I did not say a word to each other.  When we got to the shore of the lake, he held me by the shoulders to steer me as I weakly staggered to a sitting position on the narrow strip of sand at the edge of the water.  I sat there trembling.  Then he ran back to join the others for more fun.  I think he knew he had just saved my life, but it was too heavy of a thought to press into words.

I think about that incident when I read the Psalms.  David often speaks of times of sorrow or trouble when the waters are over his head.  He sings of how God lifted him up and put his feet on solid ground.  That’s what God does when we call out to him.  He reaches down and pulls us up.

“Save me O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.  I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold.  I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.  I am worn out calling for help.”  (Psalm 69:1-3)

“I love the Lord, for he heard my voice, he heard my cry for mercy.  Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.  The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me.  I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.  Then I called on the name of the Lord, ‘O Lord, save me!’  The Lord is gracious and righteous, our God is full of compassion.  The Lord protects the simple-hearted.  When I was in great need, he saved me.  Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” (Psalm 116:1-6)

Under Heavy Attack

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I walked to the refrigerator to begin making dinner.  My hand felt heavy and weak as I gripped the handle of the fridge.  I didn’t open the door.  I just laid my forehead against the back of my hand still gripping the handle and sighed.  This depression was so heavy that I physically felt tired and drained.  I whispered a silent prayer, “Lord, call off the attack.  I can’t fight this anymore.  I’m too weak and tired.”  A few tears fell from my eyes and splashed on the tile at my feet.  I know He heard my prayer.

From that moment on, I felt a turning of the tide.  I admitted my weakness and asked for help- two things I don’t do very often.  Though I don’t like it, I have begun to acknowledge and respect my own limitations because I no longer feel the imagined condemnation beating me over the head for not being stronger.  That was not from God.  That was the attack of the Enemy- and I finally recognized it.  When I asked for help, God rang the bell and called the match “over”.  HE had won on my behalf.

If you are fighting discouragement, read these words from Brother David Wilkerson and relax.  You can let God do the fighting for you.  You’re not alone.

When you are under attack from the enemy’s spirit of discouragement, you will
not feel like praying. But you still must go to the secret place and be in
Jesus’ presence. Do not worry about trying to pray your way out of despair.
This is the time for God’s Spirit to go to work in you to lift you out of the
pit.

When you go to the Lord, be honest with Him about how weak and helpless you
feel. Let Him know, “Jesus, I’m dry. I have no strength left. If I’m ever going
to get out of this depression, You are going to have to make it happen.”

In such low times, the Lord is very patient with us. He does not expect us to
exert some intense, fervent effort in prayer. He knows our condition, and He
sympathizes with us. Just sit in His presence and trust His Spirit to do in you
what He was sent to do. It doesn’t matter how cast down you are, He will never
forsake you!

We have the notion that every time we fail the Lord, the Holy Spirit flits away
like a bird because He is grieved. But how could God’s Spirit abandon me when I
need Him most? If He leaves me whenever I fail and fall deep into
discouragement, how can He be my Comforter?

Jesus promised us, “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another
Comforter, that he may abide with you forever . . . I will not leave you
comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:16, 18).

When the devil’s heavy spirit of discouragement settles over your life, you may
be so distraught you cannot even whisper a prayer. But even so, you can talk to
Jesus in your spirit. Just tell Him softly, “Lord, help me. This attack is too
much for me. I can’t do anything but sit here in faith. I am trusting your
Spirit to drive it out of me.”