Strength or Denial?

A couple of years ago, I had a dream, and in it, I saw a kind old man wearing a flannel shirt and sitting at a worktable. I couldn’t see what the man was working on, but it was some small creation that he was holding in large, capable, steady, calloused hands. And though I couldn’t see what he was working on, I could see the gentle way he held it, and the pain-staking manner that he used as he worked on it. And as I awoke, I heard a quiet voice saying, “Before the beginning of time, God sat in the workroom of Heaven, and created you lovingly, painstakingly, in the palms of His hands.” And in those whispers, I recognized that God, as my Creator, has a plan for me, and that it’s more beautiful and perfect than anything I could dream or plan myself.

God’s plan for me is really an amazing thing to grasp as I look back at a life that’s littered with painful periods. But, as I told my friend, Mary-Catherine, who once asked me which age is the best one, life has a way of getting better and better – even in the hard times. Over time, we grow older and wiser, and learn how to adapt, to be content and to be who we are meant to be.

Looking back, I can see how I’ve gotten in the way of God’s plans for me, at times. I’ve been my own worst enemy. For years, instead of dealing with pain and abuse and worries and fears, I stuck them away in a corner and lived in denial instead. Fearing that I would disappoint everyone – especially God – I put up a façade of strength, when really, I was falling apart behind the mask.

Bob Sorge explains why that was such a bad position to be in for so many years:

“Man’s strength constricts God’s freedom to work through us as He desires. Our strength gets in His way and actually works against His purposes. When we are strong, we diminish our usefulness to the Master, and restrict the flow of God’s power. The more we understand our weakness, the greater our candidacy to be channels of divine life and blessing.”

And living in denial and fake ‘strength’ isn’t just a bad position to be in for me and for my sake. I see others hurting around me and I want to help them. But if I’m faking strength and instead, walking wounded, I’m not going to be much of a help to others. Sorge continues: “The choice is to be one who is strong, or one who strengthens others. If you’re being broken by God, be encouraged – when you have returned, you will strengthen your brethren.”

I’ve gone back now to that workroom of Heaven. Maybe not physically. But definitely spiritually. I’m seeking the Creator who held me in His hands those years ago. The one who created me “fearfully and wonderfully” and who knit me together in my mother’s womb. The one who can help me to be strong and healed and whole – the way he always planned me to be.

This post is part of a weekly discussion that Jason Stasyszen, me, and a group of our friends are having on Bob Sorge’s book, “Fire of Delayed Answers.” You don’t have to read the book to read the posts and join the discussion. But if you have written a response to this week’s chapter, please feel free to link up at the widget below. Then, take a quick trip over to Jason’s place and see what he has to say. Next week, we’ll start Chapter 9. 

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  1. Fearfully and wonderfully made you are indeed – claim your inheritance as a daughter of the King, and never be afraid to risk being vulnerable or seeming weak. Hard clay doesn’t work as easily as the more malleable stuff – and all gets fired in the kiln of life.

    Good post, hon 🙂

  2. Sarah Salter says:

    Rick, I’m not sure I know what it means to claim my inheritance… #truth 🙂

  3. That’s why I get paid the big bucks then, isn’t it? 😀 #humor

  4. Sarah Salter says:

    Pay? I haven’t received a bill. But perhaps I should get started on that super-duper sugar-coma-inducing care package. 😉

  5. That’s why I haven’t been able to afford to pay attention – I never submitted a bill. Silly me 🙂

    Take your time – we’ll talk more tomorrow, God willing. #daughterofaking

  6. We always think our strength is sufficient. Or we just depend on it without thinking. What he wants us to know is to always rely on him. Always.

  7. I think that’s what hits me so hard is that I’m not only denying myself when I refuse to receive His healing and discipline, I’m holding on others. Friends, family, spouse, and to some degree, everyone I meet or have an acquaintance with. It’s not worth holding onto my strength (or my perception of it) because I’m denying Him the room to work as He desires and as I need. Good stuff, Sarah. Glad you’re pressing through to find His strength–we all benefit from your persistence. 🙂 Thank you!

  8. Sarah Salter says:

    Amen, Glynn!

  9. Sarah Salter says:

    Jason, knowing that it affects y’all is one of the things that keeps me seeking. 🙂 #truth

  10. Love this post!
    It’s so awesome to know that God is working in our lives and building us up through all of our experiences. I’m guilty of thinking I know best, but time and time again, God proves how wrong I am. Why I ever try to do His job is beyond me. I’m no good at it, but He is perfect.

    I’m not sure if I managed to link up my post with yours. I don’t think I did it right.

  11. This is really powerful. I was raised to have that stiff upper lip — the kind that just perserveres thru all that life brings. Unfortunately that has led to a great deal of dishonesty in my life –cratering a marriage, hurting relationships, and causing me to finally come nto the end of myself. Great stuff SS!

  12. Sarah Salter says:

    David, thank you for coming and sharing that with me. It helps me to know I’m not alone! I was raised, as a pastor’s daughter, to never let the world see the negative stuff. And 35 years later, I realize how dangerous of a lesson that was. And how hard those habits are to break. But I’m *so* grateful to be *finally* breaking out of that prisoner and finding true freedom and strength in Him.

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