God · religion

Psalm 139, What do I have to offer God?

I have lived my life in a great struggle against something I cannot see. It has been a burden to me since I was a little girl, a dark monster, an unforeseen force that haunted my days. I could never readily identify it, associated it mostly with some tragic experiences I had in my life. But even after I finished recovery for my sexual abuse, there were some things that simply lingered…

Becoming a Catholic became the single greatest event of my life. It was a true conversion of mind, body and soul, a true understanding of obedience and sacrifice, and a coming home party as big and as wide and as deep as heaven could offer. It was immediately apparent to me that it was the right decision, as “Christian” friends left my life and disappeared…

I’ve never been one to hold myself out as a theologian, that’s never been my purpose. God has plans and purposes for everything, and our calls and individual walks are as personal as the maker has made us. When I became a Catholic, I thought my days of darkness may be far behind me, but I did not recognize them for what they were…

As I often do, I began to scroll through my new favorite app “Flipboard” which I have found to be a great mix of so many of the topics I enjoy. If you haven’t used it, it’s like the tabernacle opening for information junkies, news aggregated in one place, and the ability to receive information based upon your specified areas of interest.

So I happen upon a story of a man whose greatest fear was death, so as he explains it, makes himself busy to distract himself from the thought of it, although this was not a conscious fear. He began to understand this fear after meeting with a “life” coach as he recounted the busyness of his lifestyle, his hyper competitiveness and his drive to “squeeze” in as much as possible in one day. After coming to the realization of this fear, he began reading numerous books related to people who lived life to its fullest on finding out they were terminally ill. This in turn led him to face his fear and realize that he needed to do something about it. Once he identified the monster, he was set free…

The story intrigued me in a unique way, I didn’t understand at the time why. He had related to Buddhist theories, hired a life coach and fear of death was not my problem. But as the story stirred in my soul, it was making its mark. What was I afraid of? What was my monster?

It was a verse in Sirach this morning that drew my attention, although I had no idea why.

Do not appear before the Lord empty handed, for all that you offer is in fulfillment of the precepts. Sirach 35:6

The question that came to mind after reading that passage was,

What do I have to offer God?

I meditated on it, researched it and could not get away from it. But it had a familiar darkness, a familiar fear. The question and the passage scared me. 

And in the midst of my ruminations and emptiness before the Lord, I asked Him that same question. And then the story of the man who was scared of death entered my mind. And that’s when I realized who and what my monster was.

I was deathly afraid I had no purpose…I had met my monster.

The thing that had haunted me, even chased me, the thing I just could not shake. The reason behind my faltering and depression. I wasn’t afraid to die, I was afraid to die without having a purpose. 

There was no human force who could have told me that, no sermon, no book. It was a cry from so deep inside my soul that I could not contain it. The hurt, the anguish of knowing that I had or maybe never would make a deep and lasting impression on this earth.

I didn’t consider the thousands of cases I handled on behalf of foster kids or indigent defendants or even my work as a police attorney. I didn’t consider the love I had for the homeless or the prostitute. It just wasn’t enough of a mark for me. And I paused to consider that although I know my purpose in Jesus, I still felt an overwhelming sense that I had not come into what God had for me, or maybe He had nothing at all…

I am sure that many of you will comment about how our purpose is in Jesus and that my wanting “more” and fearing there may be none is a sign that I don’t understand my purpose. I have read and considered all of the scriptures and have lived and continued to live a Christian life. I don’t believe this is a lack of trust in Jesus, it is a fear I have to face that I believe many of you have but have not yet identified.

I am not talking about being a missionary or call to the priesthood or some other very distinctive call. I am talking about a knowing that God has a specific place and purpose for your life that you know you have just not come into yet. I have been on the search all my life, I continue to be a pilgrim waiting for my Master…

Identifying the fear made my heart feel in a way that I never had before. Like slaughtering the beast, I understood David’s victory against Goliath. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. PRESENT darkness…

I pray that in identifying the fear, God will reassure me that He has a purpose for me. That at some stage in my life I am blessed to enter it and know that the struggle was not some figment of my imagination, but a very real one in the unseen spiritual realm. And I hope for the sake of this truth that has been exposed, that my experience and honesty can help someone overcome their fear too. That God made us for a purpose, that we are loved and that He will not let us leave this world without allowing us to leave our mark on it, for Him.

Psalm 139

 

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22 thoughts on “Psalm 139, What do I have to offer God?

  1. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, my sweet Melissa – it is an ongoing process until we meet Him face to face. Then we will truly know God. For now, we are works in progress.

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  2. Funny you should mention monsters. Right before I woke up this morning God showed me an image of a monster kinda poised out there on the periphery, then I wake up and read your post about monsters. You seem to be right we must all have monsters lurking out there, or at least I do, apparently.
    As far as what you have to offer to God; I would say, like Christ and the Virgin Mary, your person. There’s a lot of religious persecution taking place in our country right now and it’s taking place in the courts. Have you considered working for God by defending Him and, by extension; His people?

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  3. I forgot to add: think what mark that would leave for future generations. Laws that go into effect now affect generations to come. Just look at Roe v. Wade or the Constitution. How many of them were lawyers? Even if your name gets filed away on some little court document, you, with your expertise, would know how you contributed.

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  4. Sorry, Melissa, I’m really not trying to do a sales job here. These thoughts just keep flying into my head. Isn’t the fighting of principalities and powers really about fighting bad ideas? The devil tries to steal our souls by capturing our hearts and minds. Sending us in a direction away from God. Doesn’t the law play into that by helping to guide us?

    And, really, how are wars won, but by fighting many tedious little battles.

    I think I’m done, but I’m not promising anything.

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    1. Hi Rebecca, I wanted to think about what you said before responding because it had so much to offer. I completely agree, for me the fight is always mental. Sometimes I do not see that as spiritual warfare until several days in because it is so deep and profound and for me appears in the form of a deep depression rooted in the lie that I will never be anything for God, that He has no greater purpose for my life. I used to believe God did not love me, and that He would take my life when I was very young. This is something I believed all my life which ended when Christ came for me, but I think some of those thoughts still persist. What am I doing here? Why do I struggle? But then I remember that to get into the narrow gate on a pilgrim’s journey to Christ’s kingdom that we must “strive.” We struggle for something that we cannot see, that we do not know yet we do. We wrestle for unknown blessing and want for God. We fight to acquire a place that we know exists but do not know where it is or how we will get there. I never noticed the word strive until today…

      I believe God gives us very specific opportunities, will you trust me or are you satisfied to stay here? People have questioned why I have moved so much, when I tell them its at the Lord’s leading they do not understand, even Christians. Had it not been for the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I would have never moved to where I am now and become a Catholic, I would never have had the blessing of this house which God is now using to bless me again.

      I wish my problem was simply impatience, but it is not. My struggle against the devil’s whispers of “there is nothing else for you” is what my fight is all about. These “other things” are not material in nature, they are unknown blessings, unknown places. For it is scary to pack up and leave on a moment’s notice when God calls….

      Thank you for providing the words that truly opened my mind, I believe they were a catalyst to combat Satan’s lies and push me forward in the right direction. God bless you my sister!

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      1. I’ve been making a lot of discoveries this past week or so. Our relationship with God is not a master/slave relationship. It’s a marriage. If He takes our lives away, it is only to take us to Himself, so we can have life more abundantly in partnership with Him. And if what I’m discovering is true, and I believe it is, it will be anything beyond our wildest imaginations.

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  5. Melissa, you do have a God given purpose, Jeremiah 29:11. Look at the life of Joseph for inspiration. He had to go through a pit and a prison to prepare him for the Palace. Hang in there, God has something great for your future.

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    1. They don’t know any different. They have only moved within our county so never far away. We live close to both sets of parents and other family so that has no changed for them. I am reasonably sure this move will also only entail being down the road, although they will have to change schools. It is significant to me that Jesus’ ministry was a 30 mile span, this is a lot of what I have been looking at. I am not sure where we will end up, but I know God is moving so He will find our home. I imagine that your moving around was much harder on you because of the number of times and distance you moved, but I also imagine it made you who you are today. You have probably traveled more than the rest of us! Like I hear so often our test becomes our testimony. No test, no testimony. God bless!

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      1. Actually, we moved less in the Navy, then after he got out. There was a housing boom, so we’d move into a new house and the price would go up. Dad would sell it and we’d move again. I counted it up once and we moved 11 times in 3 yrs. All within a 60 miles radius. It was leaving the neighborhoods and the changing of schools that was the problem. Unlike an adult, a kid can’t just jump into a car and go visit their friends. (I might point out Lord Jesus didn’t have a car or children.) And though everyone is well-intentioned phone calls and letters just don’t keep the bonds of friendship going: not when they’ve only had a short time to develop.
        What it made of me was a person who always distanced herself from others, who couldn’t form attachments just to have them broken again. The world is not God. The world leaves people wounded. It’s God that has to pick them and heal them. It’s not going through the test that leads to testament. It’s going through the healing that brings about the testament. It’s only the recovered alcoholic who can give you a true testimony.
        Sorry Melissa, I told God I would not comment on this post again unless you came to me and you did, so here it is: do you trust happiness?
        My father physically abused my mother and my stepfather was an alcoholic. It’s been my experience that children raised under adverse circumstances do not trust happiness. My outlet is cigarettes. Every since God has been showing me what He’s willing to do for me I’ve been smoking like a chimney. It’s scary as hell. I just wonder if you move for the same reason?

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      2. It means that anytime something good happens to me I’m afraid to enjoy or embrace it because I’m waiting for it to be yanked back away from me. For instance, I just had a tenant move in who was raised, I don’t know the particulars, in a dysfunctional household. He was terrified because it was something he desperately wanted but felt was too good to be true, so he keeps expecting it to all disappear.
        I had a similar experience when I moved into my own apartment after a rough couple of financial years. It took me awhile to finally relax and enjoy it because I was afraid I was going to lose it all again. Then the shoe did drop and the person I was working for could no longer afford me. God saved me that time and got me another job. That went fine for awhile until recently my boss asked me to commit insurance fraud. Once again my job maybe on the line because I refused. I haven’t heard back from him, but God has assured me He will take care of me. That’s scary, too, because I’ve learned not to depend on others for my happiness because experience has taught me they aren’t trustworthy. God is trustworthy, but years of learned behavior isn’t changed in a day.
        Sometimes, I think people like us, instead of waiting for that shoe to drop because it’s too intense or because we don’t like being dependent on others for our happiness, will take the initiative and sabotage our own happiness. It may even be to try to keep some level of control over our lives: the difference between someone else throwing a bomb at you and having it explode and an expert demolition team exploding it.

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      3. I used to be like that. My year in recovery from my abuse was torturous but catapulted me forward light years spiritually. It took another year after that to really work the very last bit out, but I finally became as free as I had ever been in my life…

        I still continue to use the tools I learned in recovery. I’m not perfect, but now I can discern between me running away and when it comes from God.

        My whole life I have been afraid to take a chance. That’s how I was raised- Be afraid of everything. That has also been hard for me to shake, but little by little I am doing it. Had I not taken the chance that God gave me to move to this house, we never would have been Catholic. This house had a very distinct purpose which I know has been fulfilled. That is why God is stretching me now- it is a trust issue. You trusted me to lead you here, will you go a little farther with me?

        My struggle is and continues to be this- I can handle and expect the suffering, but I cannot handle the blessing. This seems to be what you are talking about. I know that God is about to bless me with a new house, but I feel as if I don’t deserve it, I feel that I don’t deserve any blessing at all… That is what I am currently working on.

        I am free but bound by fear. That’s why this next move is so important for me. This is an opening up of what God has been doing in my life, delving deeper into my faith and finding a more permanent place for my family. I want them to grow up with a sense of stability and community, not move around like I did. I know this next move will be a permanent one, or at least one that will last for a long time…

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      4. Do you think you’re inability (refusal?) to see it as grace is your control mechanism, so that you don’t have to be dependent on God? If you were to deserve it, then you would have control over the situation. It would be you determining what you are to receive and not God choosing.
        Could it also be with grace you are in such unfamiliar territory that you are trying to put your relationship with God back on a footing that is more familiar to you? So much in the world is tit for tat. You do this and I’ll give you that. Even for the good things: you made me a cake, so I’ll return the favor. Very rarely do we meet someone who simply gives us things because they love us. Parents, spouses, and other family members are the best examples of that kind of love. Are you able to accept that God just loves you?
        I understand the bewilderment, Melissa. It’s like being just another person in a crowd and, out of nowhere, someone points you out and says they’re going to give you your heart’s desire. And your standing there looking around asking, “Who me?”
        I’ll tell you the more I see of what is God is doing for me (and it sounds like you, too) the more I think this is what God had always planned for His people.
        You seem to be able to step out in faith. Can you live there?

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      5. That’s the hard part. I’d rather hold on to what is comfortable, but I feel the tug. I’m scared to believe that there is good on the other side…

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      6. Yes, that’s what I was speaking of. If God hadn’t shown me when I first became Christian His love for us, then I don’t know if I would have made it this far. This I know: God is the most trustworthy person that’s ever been–more trustworthy even than ourselves–; God wants nothing, but the best for us; and, as God knows us better than ourselves and what is truly good and truly evil, only God knows what that best is. Perhaps, you might set that as a Lenten meditation: how much God loves you.
        Thanks for being brave, Melissa. Many a person in your position would have lashed out. In trying to help you understand I had to face some things I had never articulated before. God bless!

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      7. I appreciate you and your insight. My heart is open. Thank you for giving me much to think about and direction. Love to you my friend.

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