Today I received an interesting little booklet in the mail. I support some missionary friends and this booklet was from their sending agency. It was a series of excerpts from letters and blogs of various missionaries, telling of the kinds of trials they are experiencing from the outside as well as in their own inward spiritual journeys, and how God meets their needs. It was strangely reassuring to hear how even these dedicated servants of God struggle, just as I do, to keep their priorities straight and to keep their minds open to hear God’s leading. It is good to know that God is sufficient for all of us.
In one of the blogs, which was from Ireland, there was a phrase that captured my imagination. The missionary was talking about how she had so many pressures to get this and that done, and she felt as if she was looking over her shoulder constantly, expecting God to be standing there waiting to rebuke her for not having it all under control. She saw Him in that moment, as a “biddy”: scolding and cross and bad tempered—not a loving but a judgmental force. When she realized her mind-set, she saw that she had put her own feelings for herself onto God, and that she was actually the spirit of “biddy” in her own life. It was something I could understand.
I often hear in my own head, words which are hurtful and destructive toward myself – echoes of long ago incidents and conversations in which I behaved badly or stupidly, and which have embarrassed me and made me ashamed. Or, the words may be the echoes of hurtful things others have said to me, which have left permanent wounds to my spirit. As a child, I was often told by the people to whom I had entrusted my emotional safety that I was inadequate, unloving, and selfish; and although I have tried my best, I have never been able to get those words out of my head. I sometimes pray that I be allowed to forget all these painful things, and for long periods I can, but then when I am at my at my most vulnerable, they creep back into my mind like the hissing of snakes, and I begin to beat myself up again. It is hard to believe in those moments that I have anything affirmative or valuable to offer anyone, especially the Lord. I know the source of the hissing, though, and am able to renew my spirit as soon as I remember to look to the Lord, and remember that HE loves me, and that this gives me worth.
It would be easy for me to attribute these same negative thoughts to God as I stand before Him, if I didn’t know Him so well. He knows me better than I know myself, and much better than those in my past who have hurt me. I already know very well that I am a sinner; every day I have to stand before Him and confess my lack of faith, my reluctance to trust Him, my impatience, and my lack of compassion. I don’t have to be convinced of my need of forgiveness. What is really hard for me to believe is that God can know all about me and still love me. It hasn’t always been the case with those in my life who knew me best; how can He, who is so holy and who knows me so well, look at me and still love me? How can He love me at all?
The answer is in His grace. I don’t deserve His love, yet, in His grace, He accepts me as His beloved child and promises that I will live with Him forever. It is all because of Christ, and the fact that I have been accepted in the Beloved. The Father knows all my weakness and self-will, but when He looks at me, He sees His Son, and is able to accept and love me. I am covered by the blood of Christ, and my sin forgiven. Amazing grace! I was overwhelmed at fifteen when I first understood this, and over sixty years later I am even more overwhelmed, because I know myself and Him so much better. He has called me, before the foundations of the world, and I am grateful.
I have lived my entire life feeling like an outsider, except with God. He alone has been able to see into the deepest places of my spirit, has been able to pierce my defenses and find the hurt child, the lonely little girl, and put His arms around me and hold me close to His heart, and tell me that I am precious to Him. He doesn’t train me with brutal words or a withholding of love, but with encouragement and abundant provision for all my needs. All my life I have felt that who I am, what I am, has not been enough for anyone except perhaps my children as they were growing up. How precious, then, is the realization that God, seeing me with absolute clarity, is able to love me and to offer me a life lived with Him always at my side. He is always there to pick me up if I fall—always there to remind me that He will never fail me. It is none of me; it is all of Him. Thank you, Father, for your grace and mercy. Thank you for always being near to me, and quieting my heart when I become the biddy in my own spirit.
I am a 77 year old who has been a believer for over 60 years. I have been writing fairly intensely for the past six years. I wanted to discover, with God, the answers to many questions: solitude vs. loneliness; how to be old in a world driven by activism; how to be content in whatever circumstances the Lord allows, and so on. I have found the bottom line of all my inquiries is the same: trust God, and obey what you understand of His will. Through submission to His Word and His will, growth and understanding and peace will happen. It is my hope that sharing what I have found will encourage others in their own personal searches.