"Don't you have to know something about a subject before you teach it?" my husband asked a week before I had to teach on the topic of sanity.
I post this for my family and friends, who couldn't make it that night. Yet, wondered how I ever put chicken's, pirates, and psalm 59 together for the topic of sanity.
Here you go. Let me know if it fits together?
Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him, and that He has the power to help me recover.
"Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Matthew 5:4
We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
"For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose." Philippians 2:13
N ew Life
Y our Higher Power
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1
When we begin to move from chaos to peace or insanity to sanity, there are gifts that come to us. The first one being strength. When we really believe that God exists, that we matter to Him, that He loves us, so much, that He died for us and that He has the power to help us recover. When we truly believe this with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind, something changes inside of us. When we realize that we matter to our creator we begin to have purpose. Our simple screwed up lives actually begins to have meaning. We begin to slowly, step-by-step, receive strength to face the fears, that may have in the past, caused us to fight, flee or freeze.
God is our refuge and strength and with His help we begin to stop making the same poor choices again and again.
"Accept one and other, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God." Romans 15:7
I'd like to share with you an excerpt from my journal, dated April 26th, 2013. It was a day that I had to clean out the chicken coop at the equine barn I work at.
I named this entry, "Chicken's Can Change".
I cried over a chicken today. It was dying. I hate chickens! They're stinky, mean and stupid creatures. So, why was I crying? Every time I walked into the coop, they pecked at me, the nasty beasts!
For years, I thought that one day I'd love to own some chickens. Fresh eggs every morning... yum. I don't think I want to own them anymore. I'll buy the darn eggs, thank-you very much!
Why was I crying over that vile disgusting thing?
I found the idiotic, fat, white chicken lying on it's side in one of the horse stalls, turned chicken coop. She was underneath the manger. Her roommates were pecking at her. Can you believe it? While she took her last breaths, her siblings were making it quite uncomfortable to die, pulling at her feathers, and biting chunks out of her skin. Evil Beasts!
I made a fresh bed of hay up in the manger, kicked away the little brutes, picked up the terminally ill chicken and placed her gently out of harms way. I hate to say it, and I'm a little embarrassed by it, but... I even prayed for her. I left fresh water and food close enough that she wouldn't need to get out of bed, in case of a healing. Then I cried as I finished cleaning the coop. Why was I crying?
Have you ever noticed how stupid chickens are? They just do the same thing over and over again. Nothing new or different in their behaviours, just the same thing, day in and day out. No changes. Not wanting to change, or knowledge that things can change for the better, just the same old, same old.
I'm told that's a sign of insanity.
I began to think about some of the people I know. A few in particular that show strong signs of perhaps being a chicken. They do the same thing over and over again and expecting the situation to change. Pecking at their love ones with their disrespectful words and/or behaviours. Drinking bad liquids and/or drugs that make them sick, day in and day out, their bad habits in control, and doing the same thing over and over again. Not listening to words of wisdom. Not listening to those who love them and want them to be the best that they can be, which is, I'm pretty sure not a chicken.
Then, I began to think of myself and my life. Wanting things to change around me, because at times, I'm unhappy, yet I'm doing the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result. When I don't speak up for myself, things won't change. When I put on the mask to hide my loneliness or disappointment in myself or those around me, depression sets in and things don't change. When I eat unhealthy foods, my body doesn't get healthy, and things don't change. If I'm too scared to step out of my comfort zone and don't venture out, things don't change.
I realized my attitude is everything. If I don't have the willingness to want to change for the better and the faith that God is there guiding me, I am stuck repeating the same unproductive cycle over and over again, just like those chickens. Then I knew, at times, I too was a chicken. I cried even harder. I cried for all those years when I did the same thing over and over again. Holding on to resentments, harbouring fear and dealing with it the same way over and over again. Wanting to change, knowing that things should have been better, but I was stupid. I didn't at that time know how to change it, and about a decade ago, in my loneliness and depression, I had thoughts of wanting to die. I was walking knee deep in poop and getting pecked on.
That's when Jesus walked into my dark and lonely life. He picked me up, put me in fresh safe surroundings, placed food for my soul all around me, and loved me. Then change came.
I don't hate chickens anymore. I don't agree with their lousy attitudes or their personalities, but apparently, I accept them for who they are. I smiled and wiped away the tears, because it was then that I realized... I had my Father's heart.
I may not have been able to save that particular chicken that day, but God gave me a glimpse into His heart and He saved me. I have the opportunity, you have the opportunity, to help Him save a few more chickens before we die.
We have the opportunity, right now, to accept our fellow chickens, as they are. We may not agree with what they do, but we can love them, just as God loves us. So, no more pecking, okay?
"We do not want you to be uninformed brothers about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But, this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raised the dead." 2 Corinthians 1:8-9
God leads us through renovations of our heart. You see, before there is room for new stuff, we have to throw out the old. That can be scary sometimes.
Even though we may know we are free, through Christ who sets us free. We are like this bird. Even though the cage is open, the bird is afraid to fly out. The shadow of the cage looms over the bird, just as the shadows of our hurts, habits and hang-ups may loom over us. The bird needs to fly and so do we.
New life is scary. How do we fly away from those old habits?
Let me ask you this...
What things in your life has power and control? What and who, in your life, do you give power and control to?
I struggle with worry. Worry about what other people think. Thoughts that I'm not good enough. I fear displeasing someone, because I need to please everyone, but, that's impossible. I give power and control to these thoughts sometimes and I rely on myself to find help. I forget, every now and then, that I believe in a God who raised the dead. He needs to have the power and control in order for new life to begin, right here, inside me. He clears out the old to make room for a new and improved version.... No longer stuck... One with wings... One who can fly.
"I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces." Psalm 34:4-6 (NIV)
Here's a different version of the same scripture:
"I asked the Lord for help, and He saved me from all my fears. Keep your eyes on the Lord! You will shine like the sun and never blush with shame. I was a nobody, but I prayed, and the Lord saved me from all my troubles." Psalm 34:4-6 (CEV)
Jesus offers us a solution to our fear of darkness; himself. The light of the world. The only light leading to a life worth living. Our hearts were designed like a rechargeable flashlight. We need to plug into Him every now and then. We also need to give Him the proper space, for the more room we provide Him within, the brighter we'll shine.
The greater we illuminate. The more darkness we can squelch! (5 minutes for Faith - Author Nikki).
When we are too discouraged and depressed, when we still hang on to fear, resentments, anger, frustrations, disappointments.... you name it... we are still living in the shadow of that cage.
God wants to breath new life in us. How are you going to respond?
Remember, the greater we illuminate. The more darkness we can squelch. Let's give Him the room.
"I have no greater joy that to hear that my chickens.... oops sorry.... my children are walking in the truth." 3 John 4
When we begin to follow through on our promises, the result is that people will begin to trust us and trust what we have to say. If we lie, we show weakness and fear. The truth fears nothing except concealment. The truth hurts, but it's the lie that leaves a scar.
It's in the scars, lies and concealment's that we act out a little like Captain Hook perhaps?
(I then donned on a hook and a pirates hat and acted out this skit by Nicole Johnson and Woman of Faith)
"Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe." Proverbs 29:25
When we begin to choose peace over chaos or sanity over insanity. We begin to trust in our relationship with God and with others. These relationships are a very different quality than in our past associations and fair-weather friends whom we knew while we were active in our addictions and compulsions.
Here at C.R we have brothers and sisters in Christ, people who are willing to walk beside us on our journey, friends we can trust, with whom we can share and whose encouragement helps us mutually grow in Christ. Not one above the other. Together side by side becoming better people in Christ.
Your Higher Power
"But God shows His great love for us in this way; Christ died for us while we were still sinners." Romans 5:8 (NCV)
He loves us this much!
"God my strength, I am looking to you, because God is my defender. My God loves me, and He goes in front of me." Psalm 59: 9-10 (NCV)
God not only walks beside us, guiding us, but He also walks ahead. The path we walk is not so dark anymore. His light is ahead of us and beside us and within us.
We need His truth in our lives so we can make sane decisions to have peace... to fly. Without His truth we continue to stand in the shadow of the cage that we have built ourselves, and we continue to use our hook to peck at our fellow chickens. We need His truth to heal.
"Do the things that show you really have changed your hearts and lives." Matthew 3:8
It begins with a thought, this journey into sanity, but it doesn't stay there. God asks us to do the things that show you really have changed. He calls us into action. He is telling us to, "Love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And second... love our neighbours as we love ourselves." (Mark 12:29-31).
From the deep well of a loving God, we are called to care about others, about their welfare, their physical bodies, their mental health, their comfort, and their joy.
This means no hooking or pecking!
It's a pretty radical command. But. it does interrupt our self-focus and self-centeredness. When we focus on Him and others, we begin to heal.
I'd like to leave you with a few words from the song "Redeemed".
All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear you whisper, "Child lift up your head."
I remember, Oh, God, you're not done with me yet.
You are redeemed
He set you free
So shake off those heavy chains
Wipe away every stain
Stop fighting a fight, it's already been won
And know that you are not who you used to be.....
.... and fly!
- You tube - for Nicole Johnson video clip and 'Redeemed' video clip
- Woman of Faith - NCV Bible and Nicole Johnson's 'Captain Hook' skit
- 5 minute for faith
- C.R Leadership guide
- The Chickens at Evergreen Stables