Welcome to the Patchwork Blog! I hope you enjoy reading my random thoughts about life, Jesus and the freedom he offers.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Emotionally blackmailing God?

© Natelle - Fotolia.com

If God is waiting to catch me 

why can I not jump into His arms?
This post was originally going to be called 'training in trust' after a friend replied to one of my Facebook status updates "It seems the Lord is training you to the enth degree in trust!". I agreed with her through gritted teeth at the time. She is right of course. So many of our difficult situations are opportunities to trust God more. So often I fail. My last year has been really tough and I have spent a lot of time being anxious. I have become gradually aware over the last 12 months that God is trying to get me to learn trust. He would like me to trust Him for all my needs and not to worry. I read passages like the one below, Matthew 6: 25ff.

25 ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?
28 ‘And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
When I read Scripture like this I realise now I often read it in a condemnatory tone to myself. I heard the 'do not worry' of this passage and the 'do not fear'  of other passages as a reprimand spoken in a sharp voice. I heard these words spoken to me through a filter of my fear of God's displeasure. But the truth is so different. A loving parent doesn't usually shout 'don't be scared' at their child. They know that to calm the child one must speak in a soothing voice, a gentle voice that aims to ease away fear with love. 1 John 4:18-19 says,
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us.
As I look back over my year I see that God's loving response to my fear is to show me love, to speak gently and soothingly to me.  And still I am filled with anxiety at times. My question is why? Why am I still anxious and not able to trust as I would like to? I have spent a while thinking about this and praying about it too. What is stopping me from giving up worry?

I think one reason, if I honest, is that I hope to achieve something through my worry and anxiety. In the above passage from Matthew, in v27 Jesus says, "Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" . He knew that we try to achieve something by worrying. That is what I am doing. I want to keep control of my situation. I don't want to let go to God, or anyone else. My response to the lack of control is to worry - i hope to change the situation by worrying. How do I think worry will change the situation? It is because through worry I try to emotionally blackmail God into doing what I want Him to do and to do it quickly. "Look what is happening, Lord. I am anxious. I can't sleep. You must do something so I don't feel like this. Don't you care?" This morning in  my prayer time I realised this is what I was trying to do.

Tregonings Ope
www.colinsart.org.uk  ©Colin B
Then I remembered something God said to me while I was at the Church Army Gathering in April. I was preparing for a workshop led by Church Army Evangelist Colin Brown who is based in Cornwall. He was talking to us about Faith and Art, and how God uses art to speak to us. Some of Colin's artwork was on the wall. One picture(the one to the right) spoke deeply to me. It is called "Tregonings Ope". See more of Colin's work by going to www.colinsart.org.uk. There are three bins in an enclosed passageway (called an Ope in Cornwall) that is leading out to the harbour in Falmouth. I knew God was saying to me I had to put something in  each of the three bins as I passed them before I could get out into the open. After praying I knew God wanted me to lay down pride, expectations and independence.

Today I realised that those three things are each a hindrance to trust. I have pride that my way is best, not God's way. I have expectations that my life should go a certain way and I have expectations about God too - false expectations. And I am independent, wanting to maintain full control over my own life. To learn trust I have to lay down these things before God and yield totally to Him. Trying to keep hold of all these things causes worry because things are not happening as I want. Yielding to God is the answer! Therein lies true freedom. Therein lies trust! 

I'll let you know how I get on with letting go of these things! 

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