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Week 1 12/30/'09
Beth: "Why aren't you happy?" I want you to just lock in on this for a minute. This is when I wish so much that I was looking at every single person on the other side of that screen, just face-to-face, just the two of us for just a couple of minutes because I wonder, there is going to be a lot of people out there and a lot of people in here who really do have relatively speaking, nobody's life is easy, but you really do have a lot of the things that you pictured wanting along the way. Maybe you pictured that you'd have -- all we wanted growing up was like a cute little house. Not really looking for a kingdom mansion, we were just looking for a cute little house that we loved that was home to us. And maybe you thought, maybe I'm not picturing a perfect life but I hope I would have a spouse and I would hope I have a couple of children. Some of you have what you thought when you were a child you always wanted. I have women write me all of the time that say, "Listen, I have a loving husband and I can't figure out why I'm not happy." Anybody know what I'm talking about? Anybody got what you thought you were after and are you still thinking, how come I can't get happy? It's because we thought that thing was going to completely cut it for us. We can let that thing do what it does and be a joy to us but the moment that we place the pressure on it to really just measure up to what we have placed our hope that we have placed in it, we have set ourselves up for an emotional vacuum. It happens over and over again. When was the last time somebody said, "Why aren't you happy? You've got everything! You've got everything!" What pressure are we putting on what we've got? Because somehow we're trying to make our everything our everything and it is not and it's never going to be. Growing in wholeness emotionally is coming to that reality that this is not going to cut it. I've got to have Jesus. I want this, this is a blessing to me, I love this! But it is what it is. When I was a little girl all I could imagine ever being and it never occurred to me I would ever even really have a professional life, I really wasn't looking for that, I just wanted to raise children; I wanted to be a Mommy in the worst way. So many things had been like such a shock to me. My first daughter came along and it was like, this is everything I thought it was going to be. But boy, you start putting that kind of pressure on something that weighs seven pounds, you're about to have a problem. Anybody know what I'm talking about? I didn't even share her with Keith because I just knew one of us was going to drop her and I thought maybe it would less likely be me. We were both so incredibly young. Didn't have a clue what we were doing. I sort of set my sights on this little thing right here and most of the time when she was little, I just flat out played with her because it was like I have what I've always been looking for only she grew up.
And then she had this delightful -- God knowing my personality, knew exactly what I needed. And then I get this second child who would have made James Dobson cry his eyes out.
And started every day of our lives when she was three years old asking me if I was going to boss her today.
-- A whole different ball game. Now I have no greater human joy in this world than just hanging out with those girls. That is the biggest blast to me. I love my daughters so much but they've got their own things going. I'll never forget the very first time I saw -- you know how we doodle all of the time and especially girls in middle school do that. And my girls, when they were little they would write all over stuff, "I love mom!" Then I'll never forget the first couple of times you start seeing, "I love so-and-so" and it is a guy! You're like, "I don't even know so-and-so! I'm calling so-and-so's mother is what I'm doing!" You know what I'm saying? Because we want to be their everything -- their everything. My granddaughter is just obsessed with her mother. My oldest grandson, he just loves his mother to pieces but he is his daddy's boy. When she gets this little girl and this little girls looks at her -- I say, "Amanda, you are Miss Universe to her." She can't get enough of her. Everywhere she goes, every time you look at her, she is just looking for her mother and she is just grinning ear to ear. She loves her! Be very tempting to think, she has cut it for me! Only then she is going to walk down the aisle with her daddy and he is going to dare to give her away!
It changes -- life changes. We can't hang on to any of this -- enjoy that moment but it is not going to stay, it cannot -- it cannot! I want to show you something very interesting here because Elkanah was not the only one that could not comprehend what she was going through. I want to pick back up in the text now. We're in First Samuel chapter one, picking up in verse nine.
Now notice that she hasn't answered any of the questions, "Why are you weeping? Why don't you eat? Why are you so downhearted? Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?" And she is like trying to hold herself together here.
There is something I want to say to you today because there has got to come a time when if you realize that you are totally under oppression to your own emotions and all of us have been there at one time or another, if that's you right now, there comes a time when you have got to get up -- get up -- get up! When you can look around you and you see that you are putting pressure on your closest loved ones to try to somehow help you get satisfied emotionally and that's exactly what she is doing. Like fix this! Someone fix this! And she realized right then, it is not going to happen here. He doesn't get it and nobody in the world loves me more than him and he doesn't get it! There comes a time when you better get up -- you better get up. You can't keep -- you've heard this saying over and over again, I'm going to say it again, we can't keep doing the same thing the same way and we just keep expecting something different to happen. It is time to do something different! I'm not saying with someone different, these are families here, but it is time to do something different within that same framework.
What she is doing is she is taking out the vow call the Nazarite vow in the book of numbers, you can look it up for yourself; it is very, very interesting. It was a voluntary vow. Most of the time people took the vow for themselves. There are a couple of exceptions to this and Hannah is one of them where they determine in the midst -- it was not one of those vows that unplugged you from people; it was kind of a vow of dedication in the midst of much activity. So they would grow their hair out long and they would take no wine, nothing that would have any kind of influence. They were strictly to be influenced by God himself and there were all sorts of strange things to it. They also could not be around a dead body. They could not touch a dead body. Now Hannah calls upon the vow for her son, if God will give her the son and Samson's parents did exactly the same thing. So these are exceptions. Other than that it was a voluntary vow. There is this wonderful time where we're told in the narrative about the Apostle Paul that he left a particular place and that he got a haircut. You're thinking why in the world did the word just tell us that Paul got a haircut? Why do we care? Because it is telling us he had taken the Nazarite vow. He was in Corinth at the time, he knew he was going to be around tons of people doing all sorts of public things that a Hebrew man would never have dreamed of seeing, that there would be very, very open sexual perversity, it was part of the temple worship. He knew he was going to see things that his eyes had never even imagined. And in order to be sanctified in the midst of that, he had taken on this temporary vow. So that tells you a little bit about it. She is imposing that upon an unborn child, a child that has not been conceived. So this is the vow she is making to God in verse 12. Okay, are you getting this with me? So Eli is staring at her and so there she is, she is praying in her heart but her lips are moving. In other words, like she is not praying out loud. It is very interesting; I found it in my research for this lesson that silent prayer was almost unheard of in practice in the Jewish world at that time. That they had often very prescribed prayers but that prayer was said -- it was always auditory, always said out loud. So this was kind of a new thing right here. I love that we find it in the context with a woman. It says she is praying in her heart but her lips are moving, and he is watching her and he is finding it very troubling and disturbing.
I don't know about you but it is always such a surprise to me to find beer in the Word of God.
That word, "wine" I kind of -- but beer, somehow, I don't know -- just a long neck -- I never can picture it.
I always try to find a way to not have to read that part of it. It is not that I just -- it just seems so out of place. Somehow it is like for beer to be -- but anyways, she has not had a beer. I just need you to know right now, Hannah did not stop by the Stop and Go and grab her a beer on the way to the temple that day.
Okay, case in point. Remember what our second point was?
We saw in Elkanah but you would hope that people that is as deeply spiritual as you would get it! Right? Right? Have you ever just kind of had a display of the spirit? Perhaps like grabbing the banner and running through your sanctuary during a really high time of praise and worship? I don't know what the practices are at your church, but it could be all sorts of things, but then later someone that you thought would totally get why you did what you did, maybe you just felt like God was telling you, go lay on the floor right at the altar, just go lay on it face down -- just go lay on it in front of everybody and you're thinking, everybody totally got it. And then afterwards, somebody says to you, "What in the world was that?" It is very disconcerting because you thought they would get it. And you realize along the way even your spiritual cohorts don't get you. So it is very unsettling. At this point she realizes, you know what? I'm really alone here. I'm really alone here. It doesn't mean without relationship -- it just means when it all comes down, I've got something happening that only God is going to get -- only God is going to get. Listen, there is no more important juncture in our lives than that, when we come to that place. But if we just stay there and just think, well, God is the only one that gets me, we're no healthier than we were. That this next thing has got to take place and that's when we look at three and four. Three is this, we'll see kind of the negative side of it, and then four the negative side of it:
We can take this one to the emotional bank. At times of our lives when we most need to pour out, we have the strongest tendency to pour something in. I want you to think this through for a moment with me because the thing about it is, Eli had seen a lot. Eli, as a rule, was dead on. The tendency was there and we all know that it is. He was wrong about Hannah but he was right about most people because when we most need to pour something out, that's when we most have the tendency in our humanity to stuff something in, whether it is food, whether it is drink, whether it is activity, whether it is images or pornography, we've got something inside of us that we're afraid is going to surface -- am I telling anybody the truth here today? We'll have something that we know that we're just trying to hold down, hold that down. We're scared to death of that part of us and so what we'll do instead of bringing that thing straight to the throne of Jesus and pouring that thing out right there and bringing every bit of it clean before him and going, "This is what is in here." And let him turn the light on in that closet and tend to us, we will pour on top of it, just when we most need to pour out. That's when we have the tendency to pour in. Look -- look at the next time you have a tendency to any kind of excess. What is it that you're stuffing? What is it that I'm stuffing? What are we trying not to have to deal with? What part of ourselves is it that we do not want to see and certainly, do not want anybody else to see it. You've got something you need to pour out. What is it we're pouring in on top of it? Because this is it, spiritually speaking. We binge to keep from purging. We binge on something because there is something else that needs purging and we don't want to do it so we keep that down and we keep putting stuff on top of it. The next activity after the next activity, the next responsibility after the next responsibility, the next work out, the next run, the next meal -- whatever it may be, we're just putting it on top of it. Keep it down. At all costs, keep that thing down. Is that speaking to anybody today? Here's what happens, we get to point number four. Four is this -- we know we're on our way to spiritual wholeness through our healthier emotions when number four:
When we can learn, this is going to be optimum health for us emotionally speaking, when we get to where we will pour every single one of those emotions, no matter how toxic, out right before God freely. Next time we're tempted to pour in what is it that we need to pour out? Can we find ourselves a posture to do that? I'm going to tell you something, most of the time I can do it silently but most of the time I need me a place. I'm a demonstrative person, I need me a place where I can shut the door and get all the way down on the floor. I can remember one time in our other office building, we had maintenance people and I normally kept my office door locked. I do not know why it was unlocked but I'll never forget that I had gotten up from my desk because I was working on a Bible study and God was so speaking to me personally about an issue that I was having that I was nearly overwhelmed. I thought just get up and get down. That's my thing, it's not everybody's thing to do a physical demonstration like that but I got up from my desk and I laid flat out on the floor and I was just telling him all this stuff, and I looked up and there was a maintenance man in there with me. I was so humiliated; I did not know what to do. But my pursuit was to pour out what was toxic in my emotions before the throne of grace and to know that somehow that became a drink offering to him. This is all my bitterness. Let me tell you something, he sanctifies that. When he touches it, when he touches it, it begins to heal. To pour them out freely -- I've got to tell you something, this is kind of another lesson all of its own, but here's something God has been talking to me recently about. We have to -- when something has gone awry and life is not coming through for us like we had planned for it to or like we want it to. When something has gone awry, when the family is not like we want it and we kind of feel like we've gotten a bad deal on something, there are two extremes that we can go to with all the negative things that we feel. One extreme is repression. Repression is just when we don't do anything with it whatsoever. Keep it in -- keep it in. The ones of us most prone to repression are going to be the ones that very often are the most spiritual. Either that or you were raised by a very emotionally -- I say this with all due respect -- a very emotionally constipated people.
I think that still is a good medical term that ought not trip us up too badly. But some of you, like you never ever saw a parent even get tears in their eyes about anything. No one ever just put their arms around you and told you how much they loved you. So you got that. So that keeps you kind of frozen up, whatever it might be: repression. Then there is rebellion. Now these are our two extremes we can go to when life isn't going like we want it to. We can either repress what we're feeling or we can just go into all-out rebellion -- all-out rebellion and I don't even have to describe to you what that looks like. I want you, if you're taking that down and you're doing those arrows like that, I want you to put down an arrow from each one and this one, I believe you can as well take to the emotional bank. Repression will make you sick -- it will make you sick! Listen, we've got to do something with all those feelings. They need out. They need expression. They're in there for expression. We're either going to fly off on somebody or we're going to find a safe place to bring them to God. It is our unbelief that keeps us from doing it because we're not really positive he is there. We feel kind of stupid. Some of you are still convinced you have an imaginary friend you're dealing with here. This is God. He listens to every single word you're saying and he knows every single bit of your emotional upheaval. So repression will make you sick but make no mistake, rebellion will make you stupid.
Anybody? Rebellion will make you flat out stupid. So we can either repress or we can rebel and that's when family -- my marriage is not going like I want it to so we spin out into an affair, or this or that or pornography or whatever it is going to be, and that can take a whole lot of forms and a whole lot of different situations. Rebellion will make you stupid; repression will make you sick.