Saturday, March 13, 2010

Where is my Refuge?

I went to a conference on Wednesday hosted by Freedom in Christ Ministries, "The Core of Christianity". There were about 20-25 people there, I wish there could have been more because the teaching was so solid and good, but the main thing is that God wanted me to be there and He made sure I was! I wanted to go because of testimonies I'd heard that the teachings and material the FICM uses are very good and that they've helped people with addiction problems, depression, eating disorders, etc.

There was a book shop available and I asked God which book(s) to buy- I had €20. I felt His Spirit encouraging me to ask the main speaker, Neil T. Anderson, which one(s) to get. I waited for a tea break and approached him. I explained that the fellowship I'm in do lots of street evangelism and that while the Lord is richly blessing the ministry, every person in the group is battling with an addiction or sickness or fear or anxiety. He was very brief (he had autographs to sign) and he suggested 3 books in this order: "Victory Over the Darkness", "Bondage Breaker" and "Discipleship Counselling". The total cost of the books was €42.97. I decided to nip out to the ATM- no problem!

Except... when I tried to take out €20 the ATM cheerfully told me that I had insufficient funds. Oh. I asked God to provide the remaining €20 (I had loosed change in my pocket to add to my own €20). After all He had led me to ask Neil what would be helpful and He wouldn't do that and then not provide what I needed to buy the books. On a whim I checked the zipped pocket of my bible cover. There was €20 inside. I laughed until I remembered that that €20 was a tithe that somebody had given me for the church. I decided to check another ATM, just in case there was something wrong with the other one. There wasn't.

As I walked back to the conference hall I told God that I didn't want to steal from the church tithes, it didn't feel right to me. Again, His voice filled my ears, "will these books benefit the church?" I told him that I hoped so and wanted it to. "Then spend the money on whatever will help the people in the church." I was filled with joy and peace! I walked in and bought all three of the books.

So far I've read through "Victory Over the Darkness" and am making my way through the study guide at the back of the book. There is so much truth and wisdom in this book but one thing in particular has struck my heart. Where do I go when I feel threatened, depressed or afraid? Bed. Since I was 3 years old, my bed has been my refuge, the safe place I go to when I want to hide away from the world for a while. Sometimes for a very long while. Since starting college ,where attendance was more or less up to the student, I frequented my refuge more and more, sometimes not making the morning lectures or even missing a whole day hiding in bed. For me it's a secure place, but staying in it past the morning hours has had consequences for me. Staying in bed past the time I felt tired meant that my mind was free to wander to places I didn't always want it to go. Sometimes I would feel paralysed with fear and unable to get up. Other times I would feel racked with guilt for staying in bed so long and ashamed and inadequate when my mum asked me how many lectures I'd missed this time.

I'd tried to find security in other places of course. In friendships (which exploded/drifted apart), in academic achievement (which held no fulfillment for me beyond the age of 16), in training to be a teacher (where my expectations were off the wall), in relationships (which fell apart). My bed, while inadequate and sometimes prison-like, was the best I thought I had. Many mornings I wrestle between trying to escape my too-comfortable cell and giving in to the warm comfort and quiet.

This morning, while I was struggling to get up, I was reminded of what I'd read in "Victory Over the Darkness": the Lord is my refuge. If God is my refuge then nothing else comes close, nothing else is good enough, nowhere else will I be truly safe and secure. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1. God is my refuge, not my bed. I am safe in God. And guess what? Because I am in Christ and He is in me, that refuge goes with me wherever I am! When I leave my bed I am secure in my refuge, when I eat breakfast I am secure in my refuge, when I drive to college I am secure in my refuge, when I am away from home I am secure in my refuge, wherever I go I am secure in my refuge!

God is my refuge and I am secure in Him :)

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