Thursday, March 21, 2013

Packing Away the Past

Currently our home looks like a tornado knocked on the front door and spun around in every room leaving only mass chaos in its path. We are in the process of packing for a move coming up in just a few short…very short days. Although, having moved 6 times in our 12 year marriage, this is the first move where I was not completely consumed with caring for very small children and felt I had the opportunity to not only start months ahead, but to take the opportunity to open all the boxes that have traveled with us through the years and have yet to be opened and to purge, purge, purge. I really wanted to do this move right, do it organized, do it as stress-free as possible. Having all my kids in school full-time has made a huge difference in the process already, but with the flu arriving at our house and deciding it really likes it here and staying on and off for the past few months and having two snow days this week leading into a long weekend, it has felt a bit like I do have little ones at home again.
During the process of opening up these long-term parked boxes, rummaging through their contents and deciding what is trash, what gets donated and what gets packed, I realized I was moving at an incredibly slow pace. What I had envisioned as being a freeing and fun process directing me down the path of super organized she-woman was turning me more into a woman painfully trying to crawl through the sludge and pain of my past, a past staring back at me for the first time in years. It was released from its sleeping chambers, gasped breaths of fresh air and without hesitation pulled me into at moments paralyzing and painful flashbacks of the past. Seeing pictures of old friends who weren’t such a great influence in my life or finding love letters written by past relationships that should have been destroyed years ago all reached their long boney fingers up from their boxed graves and tried to pull me down to the depths of darkness and sin in my past. It was as if I could feel the shackles tighten around my wrists, and I could feel the weight of condemnation and despair flood my soul.
Just as quick as the darkness of my sinful past tried to cover my spirit and breath death into my heart, the light that burns inside of my soul spoke out with an even louder voice of truth. I heard as clear as day a voice say to me with strength and certainty “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"  2 Corinthians 5:17.  Such comforting words during this time. I felt my soul cry out “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me,” Psalm 51:10.
Joy filled my soul like water filling a bathtub. I once again had strength that only comes from Christ to keep the past in my rearview mirror and to look with great anticipation and hope to the future. The words of Jeremiah 29:11 whispered ever so sweetly in to my heart, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
We know without a doubt that this upcoming move is a gift from God and is His way of preparing a future for our family that we could not have even imagined only four years ago when we were homeless and surviving off of generous gifts from loved ones and government financial support while my husband was desperately searching for a job to support our family. Our present and future looked like nothing but a long, cold hike down the path of uncertainty and suffering. Not a great place to be with a one-year-old, a three-year-old and a five- year-old in tow. Feelings of helplessness and anger were pervasive. As He always is, though, God was moving even then. We were focusing on the challenges of the moment and were finding it extremely difficult to turn our eyes up to heaven. As He promised though, He was preparing a healing path for us to take that would restore our souls.
When God is moving, Satan uses his elite forces to distract, confuse, depress and lead astray God’s chosen children. I also know without a doubt that there is a war raging every day for our souls. We are distracted by our business, we are confused by relational conflict or our current circumstances, we fall deep into depression and our eyes fall from looking up to the King of Glory to focusing on haunting memories of our past or the place of suffering we are journeying through today. It is important to remember that there is a war going on right now for your soul. Ephesians 6:12-13 tell us “For our struggle is onto against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” The apostle Paul then tells us how to put on our spiritual armor of God in order to defend our souls from the enemy. Read Ephesians 6:13-20 to hear his instructions.
When is the last time you allowed distraction or business to create a hole in your armor for the enemy's poisoned arrow to lance your soul? When is the last time you took time to quiet the noise of life in your head and heart and to abide with the lover of your soul?
My encouragement to you is even amongst the business of moving through life, never knowing what the next box life has for you to open, but living and moving by faith that you would grasp ahold tightly to God’s word. That you would carve out time in your busy day to abide with Him, even if only for a few minutes. That you would fill your heart with His promises and that you would navigate your life with purpose and fervor towards your new identity in Christ.
May you fight the good fight.

Heather Budwell

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