MONDAYS WITH KERRI
Let’s start this week by reading James 1:12-17
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
According to this passage, God will never tempt us. If we are enticed away from His presence we can be sure that it is the work of our enemy. The Betrayer works to destroy our relationship with our Creator today, and every day, in the same way he sought to destroy Adam and Eve’s relationship with Him in the Garden of Eden. Again, this truth is not one that should cause us to put too much focus on our enemy. Instead, it serves to teach us how to keep our eyes on Jesus in the midst of temptation. It unveils the importance of claiming what rightfully belongs to us, what was purchased for us through the blood of Jesus Christ.
This passage makes it clear why things in our lives are often so confusing and hopeless - why we settle for the life of The Betrayed. We have been rescued out of the domain of darkness, which is irreversible. Knowing this, our enemy tries to keep us from understanding, and claiming, who we really are in The Kingdom of Light. His desire is to destroy us spiritually, mentally, emotionally and even physically.
This reality hit me right between the eyes while I was in seminary. I was teaching at my church and at women’s retreats on the weekends and yet I was broken mentally, truly believing I was crazy. My mind raced back and forth on the zip line of fear between pride and insecurity. I jokingly referred to my mind as the “Humpty Dumpty brain,” but inside it was no laughing matter. I had always been proud of my ability to communicate. I had mastered the art of public speaking and even trained others to do the same. But I found myself at a place where I had a hard time completing my thoughts and sentences. I would sit and hold my head, perhaps subconsciously hoping to somehow hold it together in one piece. I was broken emotionally because of the numerous destructive relationships in my past. And I had allowed the pain and abuse I had suffered to justify various forms of “self-medication” for years. Once I stopped actively pursuing a life of substance abuse, I found that I was essentially a child in an adult’s body. I was unable to cope and process maturely because I had numbed myself for so long. I was encouraged repeatedly to go on anti-depressants for the depression I was suffering from, but I could not stomach the thought of being dependent on a pill to cope with my reality. I simply could not bring myself to do it.
Since childhood, I had believed the lie that I was stupid, so the mental and emotional torment I was encountering only served as confirmation that I was worthless and hopeless. I was broken spiritually as I had run for years from the Jesus I entered into covenant relationship with as a child. I was painfully aware of the void and emptiness inside of me. For years I had attempted to fill the space only The One who created me could satisfy with human relationships. So, even after I re-committed my life to Christ and enrolled in seminary, I still felt distant from Him. I knew I was not in an intimate relationship with Him; I did not have peace. I was also broken physically. Years of abusing my body had taken their toll. I was overweight, sick without answers from my doctors. My hypothalamus gland stared shutting down, which led to thyroid disease, pre-diabetes, chronic fatigue, anemia, and endometriosis. Together my health issues served to rob me of strength, energy and vitality. Most days I had no will or desire to get out of bed. I was exhausted, frustrated, depressed and, many days, even suicidal.
One particular weekend I remember teaching at a women’s retreat. I crashed through the front door exhausted at the end of the weekend on a Sunday night and I fell to the floor crying. I was overwhelmed by feeling like a fraud and I knew that I couldn’t “keep it together” much longer, especially serving in ministry roles. That night I cried out to The One who created me, begging Him for mercy. I simply heard Him say, “Kerri, what is that book on the table there?” “It’s your Word,” I quickly responded. “What is that book to you, tonight?” He insisted. As soon as He asked, I knew the answer. Mo