The D’s of Depression – Depend on God, Part 4

God cannot give us a  happiness and peace  apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing    C.S. LewisIf you have followed my blog for any length of time, you have seen my references to the fact that we each have a divine purpose and that our learning to exercise faith is meant to be a part of our personal growth.

Faith is an interesting commodity. We can believe but we won’t develop faith – at least the kind of faith I am talking about – unless we make a leap. That leap will require action and stepping beyond our comfort zone. Life will require us to make many leaps of faith; one is never sufficient with God.

In the path to overcoming depression, faith in God becomes a central theme. Just like Alcoholics anonymous, there really isn’t a true chance of overcoming our “demons” until we acknowledge we are powerless to do so without God’s assistance.

Learning to listen to God and recognize his voice and instruction will yield incredible help and assistance. As I continue to share the multi-part article written by Rev. Mark D. Roberts, I hope you will find lots of wonderful “lesson material” that will help you recognize and utilize God’s voice in your life. I know that He is personally aware of you and lovingly awaits your request for His assistance!:

Confirming the Spirit’s Guidance, Part 1

Sometimes we won’t know for sure if we have correctly discerned the Spirit’s voice until we step out in faith. This is surely the scariest part of spiritual guidance because it requires both trust in God and a willingness to be embarrassed. But if you ask people who have risked their pride in order to confirm what they believed to be God’s direction, they’ll tell you that the rewards greatly outweigh the risks.

Most of the time, what I’m describing here isn’t all that spectacular. For example, when I was pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church, each year we sponsored a number of “mission trips” to other parts of the world. These trips might have been to Mexico, or South Africa, or China. They often involved lots of hard work on the part of those who attended, and in some cases people were expected to raise quite a bit of money to pay for their trip. Some had the means to pay their own way, while others asked friends and family for financial support. All of this, especially the financial part, could feel daunting to someone who might have been interested in a certain trip.

Nevertheless, each year I’d have people say to me something like, “I think God is calling me to go on the South Africa trip.” Then they’d explain some deep sense of calling, rather along the lines of the whispering Spirit. Often folks tried to convince God that they shouldn’t go on the trip, but had felt his strong direction. “What should I do next?” they’d ask. My answer was that we needed to confirm what they were sensing in their hearts. Had they checked with their small group? Had they talked with a mature Christian who knew them well? These were important elements of the confirmation process. But then came the scariest part. Would they step out in faith? Would they (in many cases) talk to folks about their financial need? Would God supply the needed funds?

Time and again in my ministry, I watched people step out in faith, sometimes with very small steps. When they did, God graciously confirmed the guidance they had sensed previously. Confidants were encouraging. Supporters were generous. Sometimes funding came from completely unexpected sources. When they finally went on the trip, they knew without a doubt that this is what God wanted for them, not only because of what they were able to contribute, but also because of how they grew in faith and discipleship.

Now, of course, God doesn’t always confirm what we take to be his guidance. Sometimes the opposite happens. This disconfirmation can come as people share their sense of leading with their Christian community and run into lots of loving concern. Often, however, the disconfirmation comes after folks step out in faith. I expect that God would be perfectly happy to bail us out in advance, at least much of the time, but we’re often unwilling to follow his lead. As I’ve said before, it’s terribly easy for us to project onto God what we think ought to be there.

For example, a pastor friend of mine once received a “call” (Presbyterian language for “job offer”) to become pastor of a church a couple thousand miles away. He truly believed this is what God wanted for him, even though some of his closest advisors were uncertain. So my friend went to the new church, began his ministry there, and only then realized that he had made a terrible mistake. What this church wanted differed largely from who my friend was as a pastor. So, after six months, he resigned from this pastorate and sought a new call.

When we step out in faith, sometimes we’ll get out of line. And in some of these instances God will redeem our efforts and work things out. In other cases we’ll end up taking an altogether different course. Even some of the most spiritually mature people can, at times, misconstrue God’s will. I wish this weren’t true, or at least I think I wish it weren’t true. But the fact is that sometimes we aren’t sure of God’s guidance until we test it by our actions. And in these instances there will be times when we learn the hard way that we missed something along the way.

But here’s the great news: God can and will work in and through all of these situations. If you get off course, God isn’t up in heaven wringing his hands, wondering what to do next. Rather, he’s already at work redeeming and, if necessary, redirecting. I know Christians who get stuck in indecision because they’re afraid of messing up. The bad news is that we will mess up. The good news is that God cleans up.

As a seasoned “messer-upper,” one of my favorite verses of Scripture is Romans 8:28: “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” The “all things” that God works out for God include our mistakes and miscues. That’s not to say that we don’t pay a price for our errors. Often we do. But God is still at work in and through us, transforming us to be more like Him and using us for His kingdom purposes.

Confirming the Spirit’s Guidance, Part 2

A couple of days ago, I suggested that we can confirm (or disconfirm) the Spirit’s guidance in a variety of ways, but principally through stepping out in faith. I also acknowledged that this can be scary, since it may require us to do something that is potentially awkward, difficult, or embarrassing. The following story illustrates this possibility.

A woman I’ll call Eva was a grandmother, a gentle woman, and one of the most mature Christians I had ever known. For many years she had served within her church by calling recent visitors on the telephone. Usually she’d say how much their visit was appreciated and offer to answer any questions they might have. Most phone calls were short, pleasant, and appropriately superficial.But every now and then Eva would “hear from the Lord,” as she described it. One time, she called a visitor and began her usual friendly spiel. In the middle of her script, however, she sensed the Holy Spirit “whispering” in her heart. For no apparent reason, she felt that this woman was in a great deal of pain over a difficult marriage. She heard no audible voice and had no reason to know whether this was true or not. Yet she sensed that God had revealed something to her so she could care for the woman on the phone.

Now Eva faced a challenge: to go with what she thought God was saying to her and risk offending the woman on the phone, or to avoid embarrassment by not bringing up the issue of her marriage but thereby missing the opportunity to help her. Eva chose to risk the embarrassment of following what she believed to be the Spirit’s guidance.

“Can I share something a little odd with you?” she asked the woman on the phone.

“I guess so,” was the answer.

“Well, as we have been speaking, I keep having this feeling that you’re going through a tough time in your marriage. You probably think I’m crazy, but I felt like I had to say something.”

The woman on the other end of the line was silent for several seconds. Finally she choked out, “How, how did you know? That’s really why I went to your church.”

“I think the Lord told me,” Eva answered, “so I can pray for you and help you.”

Thus, a friendly phone call turned into the beginning of a healing encounter. Eva’s sensitivity to the Spirit, her boldness combined with gentle love, opened up an opportunity for ministry that might not have otherwise presented itself.

I have just related one of the more spectacular of Eva’s stories. Things didn’t always flow so smoothly and with obvious supernatural blessing. But even when she appeared to strike out, Eva kept on trying to listen for the Spirit and to obey what she heard. When nothing unusual impressed her heart, she didn’t make it up. She simply did her job graciously, welcoming visitors and sharing a bit of Christ’s love with them. When she believed that the Spirit had given her special guidance to care for a visitor, she stepped out in faith, knowing that God would confirm that which is truly his guidance.

As I finish telling Eva’s story, I can imagine the responses of some of my friends who are skittish about supernatural guidance of the sort I just described. “This opens the door to all sorts of nonsense,” they’d complain, “even heresy. How are we going to know if somebody’s claim to divine inspiration is true?”

This is a fine question. Actually, it’s one that Jesus himself anticipated and answered. In the Gospel of Matthew He said:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15-20)

Those who are truly inspired by God, who truly hear the whispering of the Spirit, who are truly in touch with genuine divine guidance, will bear good fruit. That fruit will be evident in their personal lives. And it will also be evident in the lives of those who have been touched by them. What sort of fruit am I talking about? We could start with the fruit of the Spirit, which is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22). To this list we could add such things as: people drawn to the Lord, works of justice and mercy, the building up of the body of Christ, and so on. One who claims to be guided by God will, if the claim is true, live a life that reflects the character and ministry of Christ.

Today’s article that I have shared was written by Rev. Mark D. Roberts and is shared from the following website: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markdroberts/series/how-does-god-guide-us/

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The D’s of Depression – Depend on God, Part 3

You attract the right  things when you have  a sense of who you are   Amy PoehlerWe have been addressing overcoming depression for the last couple of weeks. There is nothing, in my opinion, more essential in overcoming depression than knowing who you truly are.

I know that overcoming depression is not an easy task. For me, utilizing the strength that God was willing to lend me and relying on His guidance were key in my recovery.

Listening to God’s voice does not always come naturally. It often has to be worked at. So often, we are in the mire of depression because we have allowed ourselves to become overwhelmed physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally.

There is no better way to get back on track that to use God’s power to heal and instruct. He knows what we need and He can both strengthen us and guide us to the resources we need.

For some, realizing that God can and does speak to His children may be a foreign concept. I assure you that He does and can talk to us. I have been the beneficiary of His guidance many times. It was through His guidance that my husband became a chiropractor and I found and received the help I needed to overcome both my depression and my 24/7 migraines.

I cannot promise miraculous healing but I promise that as you seek and learn to listen to God’s messages to you, you will find strength, comfort and answers!

Today, I continue with the series written by Rev. Mark Roberts and listening to the spirit and the divine guidance of God. I hope you will enjoy his thoughts and I hope as you come to know yourself better, that you will find God, find yourself and find healing! My prayers are with you!:

Divine Guidance and Spiritual Direction

In my opinion, spiritual direction can be a valuable means through which God can guide us. Allow me to explain what I mean and why I think this way.

For most Protestant and/or evangelical Christians, the phrase “spiritual direction” is an unfamiliar one. The title of “spiritual director” conveys very little and can in fact be misleading. Those who lack understanding of what a spiritual director does might be apt to misunderstand the role because of what the term “director” conveys. We might picture a spiritual director as somebody who “directs” our spiritual lives, giving orders, telling us what to do, and so on. We might even envision the kind of authoritarian discipleship that was popular while I was in college, but has been rejected by most Christians as unbiblical and unhealthy. This is not what spiritual direction is all about.

Folks in the Catholic and higher-church Anglican traditions, as well as a growing number of Protestants, would be much more familiar with the notion of spiritual direction, whether or not they have personally experienced it. I first became familiar with the whole idea of spiritual direction through the novels of Susan Howatch. In her Church of England Series, sometimes called the Starbridge Series, her characters, who are Anglican Christians in some sort of crisis, are “in spiritual direction,” that is, they are regularly seeing a spiritual director. The chief task of the director is to help them discern God’s presence and guidance, both of which they need quite desperately. (Who doesn’t?)

Howatch’s portrayal of spiritual direction is sometimes more animated than reality, but she basically hits the nail on the head. The spiritual director’s job is not to give directions so much as to help someone pay attention to God’s directions. Thus, spiritual direction is a process that helps people to discern and follow the direction of the Holy Spirit.

In general, spiritual directors are wise, experienced, spiritually-sensitive Christians. They may or may not be ordained ministers, though most spiritual directors have been specifically trained and credentialed. Their training may include reading lots of spiritual classics, taking extended time for personal spiritual growth, seeing a spiritual director, being in a group with fellow trainees, and doing spiritual direction as a supervised intern.

In the last thirty years or so, Christians outside of the Catholic (or Anglo-Catholic) tradition have become more familiar with spiritual directions. This may be a result of the lowering of the wall between the Protestant and Catholic traditions. It may also be the result, in particular, of the popularity of the writings of Henri Nouwen (a Roman Catholic priest) and Susan Howatch (an Anglican novelist). For basic information on Catholic spiritual direction, visit Catholic Spiritual Direction. For a Protestant/Reformed perspective, see this informative discussion by the Rev. Kenton Smith.

I began seeing a spiritual director in 2006. I did so because it seemed like a good way for me to grow in my relationship with God. My expectations were more than realized, as I had the privilege of a wise companion in my spiritual pilgrimage. It was good to have a place to sort out my joys and frustrations as a Christian, and to have help in discovering God’s presence in my life. Though I did not begin spiritual direction with the thought that I’d be changing jobs, my spiritual director was invaluable when I was trying to figure out if God was guiding me to leave Irvine Presbyterian Church and join the team at Laity Lodge in Texas.

My experience confirms the fact that spiritual direction is not the same as counseling or therapy, even if both counselor and counselee are Christians. Though some of the methods are the same, honest sharing and sensitive listening, a counselor focuses on the individual and his or her needs, experiences, hurts, etc. In most counseling, there is quite a bit of emphasis on discovering historical and psychological causes for current feelings and behaviors. So, if I’m feeling lots of anger towards a colleague at work, for example, a counselor might help me see that this colleague reminds me of my father, and therefore my anger may be more about my relationship with my father than my relationship with my colleague. A good counselor would take me a step further, helping me to see my colleague more clearly and relate to him more fairly. A spiritual director might also be interested in the roots of my anger. But his or her focus wouldn’t be in the past, or even in my feelings and behaviors. Rather, a spiritual director would help me to discover God’s presence in my current experience. This might include finding God’s power to be less angry, or to communicate my anger more appropriately. But a spiritual director would want me to consider what God might be saying to me in my anger, and how I might experience God’s peace in a way that helps me deal with my anger in a healthy, even a godly way.

Given what I have experienced in spiritual direction, and given what I’m seeing in the Protestant/evangelical/Reformed world in which I spend most of my time as a Christian, I expect that the popularity of spiritual direction will greatly increase among folks in my tradition. There is a longing in people for spiritual growth and spiritual guidance. Spiritual direction can help satisfy this longing, and it is surely one way in which God can direct us through the Spirit. Moreover, though you can’t find the title of “spiritual director” in Scripture, the notion of discerning God’s guidance in relationship with other Christians is central to the New Testament understanding of the Christian life. The best spiritual directors both reflect this biblical understand and use Scripture in the direction process.

Today’s article was written by Mark. D. Roberts and is shared from the following website: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markdroberts/series/how-does-god-guide-us/

 

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The D’s of Depression – Delve Into the Depths of Your Soul Part 2

Knowing Yourself is the Beginning of all Wisdom Aristotle

As I mentioned yesterday, this week we are going to address the incredibly important first step in overcoming depression: Knowing Yourself.  You may think you know yourself. After all, you spend every second of every day with yourself!

However, I believe that most people in general and virtually all individuals who are going through depression don’t know themselves well at all.

If I could, I would take each precious soul that is suffering with depression and spend some quality time with them and help them understand how amazing and wonderful this world is, how perfect and incredible the love that God has for them is, and the gift that they are to this world that we share.

In this first step to overcoming depression, it is vital that we do some serious self-evaluation and self-knowledge work. I found a wonderful to share with you today!

Whether you are going through depression or not, I hope you will take some time and get to know yourself better! Knowing who we are…knowing who we truly are is the foundation step to both endeavors: creating a depression-free life and creating a meaningful life.

I hope you will give yourself the gift of you by getting to know yourself better! You are worth the time and effort!

Get To Know Yourself: 29 Questions to Discover the Real You

At the core of our desires is living a life of purpose and meaning.

At the core of a life of purpose and meaning is being of service to others.

At the core of being of service to others is finding peace and happiness.

At the core of finding peace and happiness, we discover who we are.

And to do that, we must get over a little irony, that most of us hardly know – much less, know well – the single person we have spent every second of our existence with, our own selves.

Think you’re the exception? Let me ask you then: how well do you know yourself?

We are not talking about taking a personality test or learning about your family history. Neither are we talking about your favorite colors, your best childhood friend or your high school prom experience (thank goodness about the last one ;)).

We are talking about something much greater and of higher consequence. We are talking about who you are at your core, what most matters to you, what makes you come alive, what feeds your soul and what drains your spirit, and how to know the difference so you choose well as you move forward in life.

If you don’t know yourself all that well, you may still live a life in alignment with who you are but only by accident or some sheer stroke of luck.

And that, my darling, is too big a risk to take, so shall we eliminate the risk altogether?

Make it a certainty that you live in alignment with who you are not by accident or luck, but rather on purpose, by intention, by design.

How? By getting to know yourself really really well. One way to do that is to learn your values, passions and goals. Another is to ask the right questions.

How to Get to Know Yourself: 29 Questions to Self-Discovery

Here are just 29 questions that open the door to having a real conversation with yourself. I want to ask you to answer these questions honestly for yourself.

When you are ready to do this, copy these questions into a text document, quiet all outside distractions, take a few deep relaxing breaths, make a great cuppa tea, clear your mind of noise and clutter and dive in.

Know that there are no right or wrong answers. There is only you uncovering the process of building a closer relationship with the person within.

  1. What activity in your life lights you up with joy?
  2. What is something you always love doing, even when you are tired or rushed? Why?
  3. If a relationship or job makes you unhappy, do you choose to stay or leave?
  4. What do you fear about leaving a bad job or a bad relationship?
  5. What do you believe is possible for you?
  6. What have you done in your life that you are most proud of?
  7. What is the thing that you are second most proud of?
  8. What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
  9. How does your being here in the universe change humanity for the better?
  10. If you could have one single wish granted, what would it be?
  11. How comfortable are you with your own mortality?
  12. What is your highest core value?
  13. To your best knowledge, how do other people perceive you?
  14. How would you like others to perceive you?
  15. How confident are you in your abilities to make decisions for yourself?
  16. What is your biggest self-limiting belief?
  17. Who is the most important person in your life?
  18. Who is your greatest role model?
  19. Who is a person that you don’t like yet you spend time with?
  20. What is something that is true for you no matter what?
  21. What is your moral compass in making difficult decisions?
  22. What is one failure that you have turned into your greatest lesson?
  23. What role does gratitude play in your life?
  24. How do you feel about your parents?
  25. How is your relationship with money?
  26. How do you feel about growing old someday?
  27. What role has formal education played in your life and how do you feel about it?
  28. Do you believe your destiny is pre-determined or in your hands to shape however you wish?
  29. What do you believe is the meaning of your life?

What If You Don’t Like the Questions Above?

I know. These questions are not meant to be easy or comfortable, but they are important to ask and to know. As you ask yourself questions, the process of self-inquiry begins, and at first, it is uncomfortable and unfamiliar – especially if you have never done it – yet in time, it becomes easier. Even fun.

Because here’s what you may not know. Or be afraid to believe.

You are a unique child of this world. You are brilliant, smart and wise. You are deep and fascinating. You are gifted and talented. You are beyond capable to do what you dream. You are loved, loving and lovable.

You are not too old or too fat or too poor. You are not too slow or too boring. You are simply none of the terrible things you tell yourself. You’re quite the opposite.

You are more than enough.

So while it’s up to you to decide if this self-discovery process is worthwhile, I would say trust me on this. Getting to know yourself IS worthwhile. Just do it!

Written by Farnoosh Brock and shared from the following website: http://www.prolificliving.com/get-to-know-yourself/

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Finding Happiness by Losing Our Self and Finding Our True Identity

No wonder we are instructed to lose ourselves (Luke 9:24) He is only asking us to lose the old self in order to find the new self. It is not a question of one’s losing identity but finding his True Identity Neal A. Maxwell

I have to make a confession. I have struggled with the concept of losing myself to find myself. Even after my near-death experience, I struggled. I have to give all credit to my ego in this struggle. For reasons I don’t even understand, I had a fear of losing the me that I knew and was (at least for the moment) happy with.

I am grateful that the Lord is always willing to work with us layer by layer. That has been the process with me. Layer by layer the Lord and removed the part of me that has held me back. It is still an ongoing process.

What I have learned in the process is that the Lord does not want to camouflage us or eliminate our importance. We are all important to Him. What he does want is to take the parts of us that interfere with our happiness and ability to receive of abundance. He wants to take the parts of “me” that I too determinedly hang onto and replace them with better parts. Think rusted parts found in a salvage yard (that I am mysteriously attached to) replaced with celestial parts created and manufactured in heaven.

As I have allowed the Lord to do His work with me, I have been the true beneficiary. I have discovered talents and joys that I otherwise would have forfeited. I have found a deeper and more satisfying inner peace. I have been enabled to understand concepts and nuggets of truth that previously evaded me. I have been endowed with greater joy and happiness and life has been made easier.

Life holds a different story for each of us. However, we are each meant to find happiness and joy. It is within our reach and it is ours for the choosing. I hope you have happiness and joy in your life. If not, seek the Lord in prayer and ask Him to help you find it – and then open your heart to the changes He will bring into your life.

Today’s article shares some wonderful thoughts – I hope you will enjoy!:

FINDING INNER PEACE (AND HAPPINESS)

“Lose yourself to find yourself”.  What does this phrase really mean?

The self that is being lost is the self-image your mind has made.  Any false identification with thoughts, emotions, forms, or anything you can perceive.  This is often referred to as “ego”.

The self that is being gained is the deeper awareness that can perceive the self image.  The true self beneath the illusions of the mind.  Pure consciousness, free from false identity.

Lose yourself to find yourself means to let go of what is not real about you, so only the real can remain.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE ANYBODY

We are brought up to believe that we have to “be someone”, that life will be far better and more satisfying if we have a strong personality, can influence others and “make a difference” in the world.  This is a lot of effort, and in my own experience can create unnecessary pressure to be “something” or “someone” when it is not necessary.

Whatever work you do or contributions you make to the world, you do not have to identify with.  You actually serve and act more effectively when you are no longer acting to strengthen or maintain a false self-image.  What you do then becomes selfless and takes on a far greater power.  Then if you go through a period of inactivity, you are not dependent on activity for your sense of self anymore, so you will still be at peace and happy.

INTERACTING WITH OTHERS

The same goes for interactions with other people.  When you drop or at least begin to transcend your self-image, everything becomes easier.  You are not struggling to defend your self-image or who you think you are.  Instead you are simply there, fully present, from which any useful action, if required, arises.

Of course the ego in most of us often measures who we are or how good we are by judging the reactions of other people to us.  Most of us unconsciously believe that if we are more liked by people or people give us more positive feedback about ourselves, then this must mean we are better as people, or this gives us a right to be happy or satisfied.

If people do not like us or react negatively to us, there is often something inside that does not like it, that seems to take the opinions or responses of others as direct measurements of our sense of selves.

See what happens, if even for a moment, you can completely give up trying to be anything or anyone.  What happens when you can accept being nobody?  Being “nobody” is not a bad or a weak thing.  It is liberating.  It is just giving up your false sense of self.

It would be more accurate to say to “stop being anything” rather than “accept being nobody”.

When interacting with others, have no expectations of yourself.  You do not have to prove anything or do anything to make the other person happy or more comfortable.  Experiment with this.

You may well find, that then you behave in a totally natural and useful way.  When you give up your need to be someone or act a certain way to uphold an illusory self concept, or to gain any external (or internal) approval, suddenly you are freed from all anxiety or fear.  You become completely real and authentic.

From this place your natural state of peace and relaxed joy flows into your interaction, so you benefit the situation without even trying.  A greater power begins to work through you, but can only do this once you let down all of your walls and attempts to be someone.

THE REAL BENEATH THE UNREAL

When you are comfortable with being “no one”, what is left is your true nature – awareness, from which all “good” things come.  This is what is meant by “lose yourself to find yourself”.  There is no longer any fake ego covering up who you actually are.  Then you are far less likely to be disturbed by external factors, since they do not effect your sense of self – which is now pure awareness.

Do not identify with any self-image that your mind has created.  You are the awareness of the self image, unattached.

All actions that your body takes and all thoughts your mind produces occur within your own eternal awareness, the untouched presence.

Losing your false sense of self can seem scary, but it is only scary to the ego.  You can only lose what is not real about you.  The thing that does not want to disappear is the ego itself.

If you are identified with ego, you may believe you are afraid to let go of a part of your self image, or any thoughts or emotions you previously identified with.  The fear is of the ego, not of yourself. All it does is cover the truth and temporarily prevent you from realising it.

When you stop identifying with thoughts, emotions and self-image, you remain as awareness.  Lose yourself to find yourself.

Today’s article was written by Adam Oakley and is shared from the following website: https://www.innerpeacenow.com/inner-peace-blog/lose-yourself-to-find-yourself

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God’s Under the Bed…Prayer is More Than We Know

Prayer is the World’s Greatest Wireless Connection from the Little Church MouseI am very grateful for prayer. I have seen its work in my life. I am blessed by prayer daily. What is your experience with prayer? Is it difficult for you to feel like you are praying to a real being with real and perfect love for you?

Since the time of my near-death experience, prayer has become especially meaningful for me. I no longer have to imagine what God is like or wonder if He is listening to me. I don’t have to wonder if He knows me or if He loves me.

I would have never asked for a near-death experience, and yet my life and understanding have been exponentially blessed by that experience. It is now my hope that I help and bless the lives of others by sharing what I have learned.

I love the story that I am sharing today. I can tell that Kevin really understands prayers, whether or not he has full comprehension of other areas of his life. I hope that as you read today’s story, your life and understanding will be blessed!

God’s Under the Bed

My brother Kevin thinks God lives under his bed. At least that’s what I heard him say one night. He was praying out loud in his dark bedroom, and I stopped outside his closed door to listen. “Are you there, God?” he said. “Where are you? Oh, I see. Under the bed.” I giggled softly and tiptoed off to my own room.

Kevin’s unique perspectives are often a source of amusement. But that night something else lingered long after the humor. I realized for the first time the very different world Kevin lives in. He was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled as a result of difficulties during labor. Apart from his size (he’s 6’2″), there are few ways in which he is an adult. He reasons and communicates with the capabilities of a 7 year old, and he always will. He will probably always believe that God lives under his bed, that Santa Claus is the one who fills the space under our tree every Christmas, and that airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them.

I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is different. Is he ever dissatisfied with his monotonous life? Up before dawn each day, off to work at a workshop for the disabled, home to walk our cocker spaniel, returning to eat his favorite macaroni-and-cheese for dinner, and later to bed. The only variation in the entire scheme are laundry days, when he hovers excitedly over the washing machine like a mother with her newborn child.

He does not seem dissatisfied. He lopes out to the bus every morning at 7:05 eager for a day of simple work. He wrings his hands excitedly while the water boils on the stove before dinner, and he stays up late twice a week to gather our dirty laundry for his next day’s laundry chores. And Saturdays — oh, the bliss of Saturdays! That’s the day my dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a soft drink, watch the planes land, and speculate loudly on the destination of each passenger inside. “That one’s goin’ to Chi-car-go!” Kevin shouts as he claps his hands. His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday nights.

I don’t think Kevin knows anything exists outside his world of daily rituals and weekend field trips. He doesn’t know what it means to be discontent. His life is simple. He will never know the entanglements of wealth or power, and he does not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of food he eats. He recognizes no differences in people, treating each person as an equal and a friend. His needs have always been met, and he never worries that one day they may not be.

His hands are diligent. Kevin is never so happy as when he is working. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his heart is completely in it. He does not shrink from a job when it is begun, and he does not leave a job until it is finished. But when his tasks are done, Kevin knows how to relax. He is not obsessed with his work or the work of others.

His heart is pure. He still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be kept, and when you are wrong, you apologize instead of argue. Free from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry. He is always transparent, always sincere.

And he trusts God. Not confined by intellectual reasoning, when he comes to Christ, he comes as a child. Kevin seems to know God — to really be friends with Him in a way that is difficult for an “educated” person to grasp. God seems like his closest companion.

In my moments of doubt and frustrations with my Christianity, I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith. It is then that I am most willing to admit that he has some divine knowledge that rises above my mortal questions. It is then I realize that perhaps he is not the one with the handicap — I am. My obligations, my fears, my pride, my circumstances — they all become disabilities when I do not submit them to Christ.

Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn? After all, he has spent his whole life in that kind of innocence, praying after dark and soaking up the goodness and love of the Lord. And one day, when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we are all amazed at how close God really is to our hearts, I’ll realize that God heard the simple prayers of a boy who believed that God lived under his bed.

Kevin won’t be surprised at all.

Today’s inspiring story shared from the following website: http://godslittleacre.net/inspirationalstories/gods_under_the_bed.html

 

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