The squirrels were storing away treasures today – digging holes, planting trees. Not long from now, they will be looking for that buried treasure to feed on in the cold of winter, or, more likely, they will be raiding the bird feeders we have. And as they dump the seed on the ground, their eyes will be anxiously focused on the door, anticipating the mischievous boy who will try to chase them away. They have no idea that they are really safe. That little boy has a mama who does not approve of his chase. They have no idea that someone is defending them and they really don’t need to fear.
Living with post traumatic stress disorder, I feel kind of like those squirrels. I came to Jesus over thirty years ago, surrendering all of my brokenness to Him. My mind and emotions found peace quickly, stored away treasures of truth to replace the lies as I spent time every morning and evening in His Word. Establishing a consistent time and place to spend reading the Bible and praying were keys to burying treasures in my heart. And then, when winter (as it always does), or lies come God brings the treasures to mind to help me stand firm in His truth.
But my body? My body has lived poised to flee while my heart has pounded in fear in response to the harm it expects. My body has whispered lies that are stored away in my muscles from the harm done it in the past. Whether at the grocery store or sitting on the porch, my body has been hyper-vigilant, attuned to any threat, actual or perceived. In so many ways, I am just like those squirrels, ever watchful and prepared to flee from danger.
My husband learned long ago not to wrap his arms around me in a hug when I am washing dishes or I will have a panic attack. I have startled easily and my emotions would become out of control. My body hasn’t been able to process the truth that my heart and my mind stored away, treasures of truth, nuggets of wisdom, gleaned from God’s Word buried deep in my heart. And once my body has triggered into full panic mode, it screams are so loud that my mind and heart shut down. I am no longer thinking or feeling, I am fleeing – prone to stupidity because I am operating outside of my conscious thought.
My body, years after coming to Jesus, has only recently begun learning to live in the present truth of safety. Thankfully, through Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (E.M.D.R.), my body has found a way to release the memories to which it has clung. The body has finally healed to believe what my heart and mind have tried to convince it of for thirty years. Slowly, I have found peace from tormenting memories and release from the fear that it stored away in every muscle. Finally, my body has been enabled to respond to the truth of God’s Word instead of silencing the truth my head and heart have tried to assure it of. In this, even my body is becoming confident:
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14 (ESV)
With all of my strength, my mind, my soul and my heart, I am now able to embrace the truth that God sees me, cares for me and is protecting me. In Christ, I have nothing to fear. The Lord is fighting for me! My job is easy. I need only to be still.
Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. ~Matthew 10:28-31(ESV)
Jesus tells us that we do not need to be afraid, that our Father has numbered every hair on our heads. To be that intimately known is a comfort. He has counted each of us valuable (and that matters to everyone, and is much needed truth for a girl who was told repeatedly that she was unwanted). The Father’s eye is on each of us. Whatever we are afraid will happen, God is there with us, watching over us, chasing away the things that will harm us and allowing the things that will grow us.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. ~Romans 8:28
For me, these last few years have been the hardest of my life. God has chased away every harmful useless thing, while allowing every painful thing that He could use for His glory and to bring healing in places I thought were beyond His reach. He is a good, good Father. He fights for me. And above all else, He loves me, values me, and has a future for me.
For you today:
No matter what today looks like, the struggles you have, the success or failures, the victories or defeats, you are loved and valued by the God who created you. Just like He sees the sparrow, He sees you and knows you intimately.
If you are in Christ, God is working out all things for your good and His glory (see Romans 8:28). It doesn’t always feel like it or look like it, but He is. The best way to experience His peace and to continue to rest in His love is to spend time in the Bible, in prayer, listening to praise music (maybe even singing along?) and with His people (church). I won’t tell you it fixes the problem…it does not! But it helps keep our hurting hearts on the One who can not only fix the problem, but is right there with you in the struggle.
Do you have a specific time and place to read the Word of God and to spend time in prayer? If so, how has that helped you grow in your relationship with God? If not, how are you purposefully storing away truth in your heart?
What truths from God’s Word help you stand firm when lies are attacking you? I’d love you to share the verses in the comments! Let’s encourage one another today.
If you are struggling with issues of abuse or harm done to you, anxiety or depression, drug addiction or self-harm, and need help, I encourage you to lean in to Jesus, find a trusted friend to share with, and seek professional help through a Christian counselor.
Father God, may we make you our priority every day. May you enable us be transformed by your word as we store away truth in our inner man, our hearts, souls and minds. Help us to lean in to you in the winters of our lives when the truth is hard to see and your presence seems distant. Thank You that even then you are right there with us. You are our defender. You are fighting for us. Help us to choose to rest in Your amazing love. In the Name of Jesus we pray. Amen.