What woke me up in the middle of the night: Finding freedom in the path of life

 

I awoke in the middle of the night, completely alert. Lying there, an overwhelming sense of jealousy flooded over me as I thought of a friend who had just entered into a relationship. Oddly, the feeling was external and not from within my heart. Next, I saw a picture in my mind’s eye. The Lord showed me two paths. I thought of the poem “The Road not Taken” by Robert Frost.  At that moment, He began to speak to my heart.

“These two roads look the same.  Let me tell you about the first.  This is the path of bitterness. When someone goes through a door you have been desiring to walk through, you will have the opportunity for bitterness to make it’s home in you. You can attempt to hide the fact that you are carrying offense. People may look at you and even tell you how humble you are to trust God and how proud they are of you for how you celebrate others’ joy. But don’t think you can nurse this and it won’t have results.  It will eat you like a cancer. Killing your heart, your dreams, joy, and even your ability to receive good things from me.

Watch out that no bitter root of unbelief rises up among you, for wherever it springs up, many are corrupted by its poison. (Hebrews 12:15b)

Liz, here’s the second path. This is a much more vulnerable path. Many avoid it because it costs something. This is the path of life. I cannot guarantee that it won’t hurt when you watch another enter into the promise you wait for. Everytime you feel that ache, don’t deny it. But give it to me. You will learn on this path how to celebrate the goodness of God in others’ lives. Therefore, increasing your own ability to receive every gift I offer you.”

I dared not move, because it was a sobering moment. Strangely, I felt like this warning was wrapped in kindness. God was loving me and revealed the trap that the enemy had laid out. This is a good Father who gives a “heads up” before the fact.

Few speak of bitterness, but many of us battle it more than we admit or even realize. A few indicators of bitterness festering inside (fun stuff here ;):

  1. a certain person or event evokes feelings of cynicism or offense
  2. an area of life is captive to unbelief
  3. when someone has good news, you want to roll your eyes or even avoid hearing about it
  4. loss of childlike wonder in any area, replaced by “let’s just get real”
  5. Where is my joy? Why is hope not vibrant in me?

We know the “big” sins but rarely think about infectious ones that kill our hearts.

Where does bitterness spring from?

Brokenness.

Here’s the reality. We will never be able to avoid pain. Just like a broken hand hurts. So do broken promises. Broken trust. Broken dreams. Broken hearts. In a world of broken things, there’s no avoiding this pain. Sorry.

You’ve entered into a broken situation. The heart starts hurting. Bitterness now tries to seize the day. How easy to take hold of it and enter into the lies that God is withholding something good or that He caused this pain.

Take heart! He always provides the alternative to bitterness. COMFORT!  I have experienced comfort many times. The Father has many ways of comforting our hearts. Just as there is a “promise” (more like a warning) attached to bitterness, so there is with comfort.  Look what the Lord can do with a comforted heart:

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. (2 Cor. 1:4)

How I’d love to never struggle with the temptation to be bitter. But I do! Some days it’s especially intense. This is why I wanted to bring this to the light. Let’s help each other in this battle. Fight for each other’s hearts. Refuse it’s poison masquerading as turkish delight.

Spit it out, don’t swallow it!

If this is something you’ve battled with (basically, if you’re human), let’s pray! We really can win this battle!

Father, I thank you that you do not withhold any good thing in my life. I trust your timing. I believe that I will see your goodness in the land of the living. As I wait on you, I do this with hope. I renounce (repent) of any agreement with bitterness that I’ve made.  By your Spirit, would you show me now any areas where I’ve been bound by bitterness (events, thought life, relationships,etc).  As I bring those to you, would you take them from me? Would you break the chains that have weighed my heart down? I surrender. I chose trust. I need you. I open my heart to receive from you right now. Pour your love into these broken places. Thank you for making everything beautiful in your time. I choose another way. Amen.

 

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