Soar is the word God gave me for 2019. The previous year was wrought with so many heartaches and trials, and I was excited to leave it all behind; so, I began looking at this one word as a beacon of hope - a ray of sunshine piercing the darkness that had enveloped me. Soaring sounded uplifting and I grasped onto thoughts of how easy the coming year might be.
I’m not sure why I thought everything would be hunky-dory perfect at the onset of 2019, as if a switch would flip at the stroke of midnight and my life would magically be easier or better. It sounds even more foolish as I write it. But, yet, this is where my head and heart settled.
Soaring is the act of rising above, which implies you can’t soar without having something to rise above. This year I have experienced so many mental and emotional struggles that it seems I can barely even flap my little wings, let alone soar high in the sky above all the chaos. Have I already failed this year? Will my word - SOAR - mock me for the remainder of the year as I muddle through icky emotions and years of baggage and messy buildup?
No and no.
You see, struggling is not bad. It does not mean we have failed. Struggling means there is something warring within - the flesh and the Spirit. How we choose to deal with our struggles determines whether or not we come out on the other side looking more like Jesus.
"Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God." (Romans 8:5-8)
The verse God gave me to go with my word - SOAR - was the well-known and widely-quoted Isaiah 40:31: "but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." So often, the meaning of such beloved verses lose their potency. Their meanings grow obscure and we recite them mindlessly rather than meditatively. Hope has always been an elusive word to me. So intangible. What does it actually mean to hope in someone or something? Hope is trust. It is dependability. Qavah is the Hebrew word for hope in this context. It means "to lie in wait for, to bind together, to twist." It is being so intertwined with the Spirit that we live in a state of dependability on God.
My mind inevitably returns to my prayer. The one I prayed months ago for God to teach me how to depend on Him - to live and operate out of His strength, not my own. I didn't know at the time that I was praying to soar. Not to soar above my problems and struggles, but above my flesh.
Battling the lies of the enemy is one of the biggest struggles I face on a daily basis. Rejection and abandonment being at the top of that list. Satan orchestrates situation after situation that reinforces the belief that I am unwanted, undervalued, forgotten, overlooked and unloved. Although he may orchestrate these pitfalls for my flesh to dwell in, God is the Master-Orchestrater, weaving all things together to bring Him glory, allowing these struggles in my life to draw me to His side, bringing me into a deep trust in and dependability on Him. Thank God that He redeems! The lies the enemy throws at me that say I am forgotten, He turns on its head and tells me He has called me by name (Isaiah 43:1-7). When Satan says I am unworthy, God says I am His beloved child (Luke 15:19-24). When I feel I am not good enough, God says Christ in me is more than enough (Galatians 2:20). When I believe I am unloved, God says He loves me immensely (John 3:16, Romans 8:37-39, 1 John 3:1, Ephesians 3:16-20).
The Holy Spirit is teaching me that soaring is turning to Him and His Word when I am assaulted by Satan's lies, not entertaining the thoughts he places in my mind upon which my flesh feeds. What I'm finding is that little by little, the lies that have entangled me for so long are losing their power.
Instead of dwelling in the pit, I am learning to climb out and dwell in the presence of God.
Are you ready to climb out of the pit of destruction with me? Here are some practical ways of getting out of the pit and into the presence.
1. Recognize the Pattern. Satan will use the same lies over and over again. They take on different forms, but they all boil down to identity. Where does your identity rest? Are you defining yourself based on what you think, what others say or what Satan throws at you? Or are you defining yourself based on who God says you are - a beloved child? The lies that Satan throws at me usually boil down to the following:
- You are unloved.
- You are forgotten.
- You are unworthy.
Each one can branch off into many different issues (see below). Prayerfully identity the issues with which you struggle and the root cause of each. (Download your free Mind Map Worksheet here).
2. Stop the Cycle.
You have a choice. Do you hear me? You have a choice to stop believing Satan's lies. Once you've identified the lies of the enemy, don't give into them. Choose to disengage the lie and turn to the truth of God's Word. A few weeks ago I went clothes shopping. I had a 50/50 chance of it going really well or very badly. Well, as you probably guessed, it went badly. Nothing seemed to fit right so I walked out of the store empty-handed, believing I was ugly and frumpy. I knew these were lies - tactics of the enemy to get me to focus inward instead of on Jesus and who I am through Him. So, I chose to stop the cycle. I chose to not give this lie the power it sought and craved. I turned my mind to the Truth - I am fearfully and wonderfully made by God. I channeled my energy into praising and worshipping God through song instead of empowering the lie. Maybe I do need to lose a little weight, but doing so from the mindset of "I'm fat and, therefore, ugly" is not the frame of mind from which to healthily and successfully accomplish this goal. Doing so from the mental framework that I am created beautifully and am a temple of the Most Holy God propels me forward with the right mindset - taking care of myself because I am God's creation.
3. Grace and Time
I spent about 30 minutes in the pit of despair after my shopping fiasco. It used to take me hours, days and even weeks to get out from underneath the weight of these lies. I didn't use to fight them but would wallow in them until my mind gradually shifted to something else. I took a passive stance. It's only been recently that I've been able to actively take a fighting stance against them. It's been years of praying that God helps me - helps me to see the lies and overcome them.
If you're in a similar place, I would encourage you to continue pressing into God. He is the only One who has the power to help you push past the lies. He is the only One who can give you a revelation of His great love for you and teach you to utilize the truth of scripture to render the enemy powerless. It takes time. It takes grace for yourself in the working and waiting. This time it took me a mere 30 minutes to crawl out of the pit. And, yes, 30 minutes is better than days and weeks, but it's still 30 minutes in the pit. I am not there yet. None of us are or ever will be this side of heaven. And that's okay. We're not supposed to be there because when we are weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-11). God's grace covers us. Only He can remove the scales from our eyes so we can see the web the enemy has woven, and only He can heal the wounds it has caused (Ephesians 1:17-23, Luke 4:14-21). All in His timing. He uses the waiting to teach us and to mold us into His image, to draw us closer to Him so we can live in victory. He is teaching us to rise above our flesh; He is teaching us to soar with Him.
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