April expressed a wish to see some personal testimony on the blog on Thursdays, so here is some of mine.

My Recent Journey:

For some of our readers, I need no introduction.  However, I am truly excited about the amount of readers we currently have and many of you don’t know anything about me.  I will start off with a brief introduction.  My name is Adam Maisen.  I have been married for going on 6 years to my beautiful and loving wife, Bonnie Maisen.  We have a 1 year old son, who is definitely a precious gift from the Lord.  I am also in leadership in our simple church.  By vocation, I am a Licensed Professional Counselor.  My hobbies include music of all sorts and I have a strong interest in aviation.  I give you a small glimpse into my life for the purpose of explaining how the Lord is working in and around me.

While I am trained in clinical mental health, I have struggled on and off for many years with anxiety and some depression runs in my family.  In my experience, I have learned to employ relaxation techniques and rational self talk as a way of coping.  I even teach some of these skills to my clients.  However, there is one aspect of this anxiety that I have never been able to conquer on my own with any amount of theory in techniques or clinical training.  This is the spiritual aspect.  Anxiety comes from many angles.  Just to name a couple, uncertainty of the future and a feelings of loss of control are contributing factors.  For men especially, we often have a tendency to identify who we are by what we do.

Those who know me well know that I am currently unemployed and have been since January 7 of this year.  I have no idea when I will receive another paycheck.  This is a scary thought.  However, the Lord has provided for us thus far without letting us down, so I am confident that he will continue to see our family through and give me the kind of job that will best support our family.  While I have applied for several jobs, I’m still waiting to hear back from some of them.  This is the most recent source of anxiety that has caused me some grief.  When my anxiety has been most prevalent, the Lord has stepped in to remind me that He’s got this.  It can be difficult to really trust this promise when it seems that the theme of my life is “Hurry up and Wait,”  but He is all I have to hang on to.

I believe that if we become brutally honest with ourselves, many of us hold an underlying sense of insecurity and thoughts of “When will people find out that I have no idea what I am doing.”  I am not talking about an overwhelming driving force or paranoia.  No, I am speaking of a nagging and quiet fear that you may not be good enough or acceptable enough.. For me, this comes to life in my music and in my professional life.  Referring back to a recent blog posting, I have seen the reality of many people who are constantly trying to prove something.  Sometimes, this draw for interpersonal and emotional/spiritual validation manifests itself in complaining about why people “should feel sorry for me.”  Sometimes, it comes from a pseudo-confidence that is seen in bragging about credentials or expertise.  In my life, I have fit into both of these categories.

Getting back to the spiritual aspect, one thing I have realized in my journey with Christ is the need to recognize who I am in Christ, and how “especially fond of” me he really is.  *As a side note, if you have not read Paul Young’s, The Shack, I strongly recommend it.

As I was thinking about what to write on this, a few scriptures came to mind that have really been a source of strength for me.

Psalms 46:1-7

1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.[c] 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.  6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. 7 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

The reality of this passage that is most meaningful to me is that those times when I feel like my world is crashing down around me, even then the Lord is “ever-present.”  He is trustworthy and in his love, He will hold me up and be a refuge to whether the storm.

Matthew 11:28-30

28 Come to [Jesus], all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  29 Take [Jesus’s] burden upon you and learn from [Him], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.  30 For [Jesus’s] burden is easy and [His] burden is light.

The heart of this passage is a promise from Jesus himself that when we focus on things of Him, we WILL find rest for our souls.

I believe that David had the right idea in Psalms 27 where he says:

The LORD is my light and my salvation–whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life–of whom shall I be afraid?

Romans 8 talks to us about life and freedom through the Holy Spirit.  One part that I find especially relevant is the verse 31-37 passage:  We are indeed more than conquerors through Christ.

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j]

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I find great peace in who I am and whose I am in Christ.  He loves me enough that he paid very dearly for my soul.  Without Christ, I would be in trouble.  It is Christ that strengthens me.  If I am in Christ, what do I have to fear?  Nothing can ultimately come against me.  I am not particularly special in this because Christ offers the same love and justification for all that find their identity in him.  Circumstances can make life stressful, but as far as personal justification, we are justified by Christ, not by our own actions but because he loves us and cherishes us.  As Paul Young stated through his character of Papa in the Shack, He really is “especially fond” of each one of us.  I guess that in the grand scheme of things, this is really all that matters.

On a practical note, I would be unwise to have no concern about my actions, or how they affect others.  Likewise, it would be foolish of me to have no consideration for how others perceive me.  However, it is crucial that I remember where my identity is found.  That is in Christ and in Him alone.  Even if I do not perform perfectly or somebody says something to me that taps into my insecurities, in the grand scheme of things, it does not matter.  I have come to the realization that my true identity is not in how good a trumpet player I am or how good a counselor I am, or even more importantly, how good a man I am.  No, I belong to Christ and in Him I am justified and validated.  I thank Him for his loving grace and salvation.  I praise Him for delivering me from my own insecurities and anxiety.  He is my Deliverer, my identity, and my strength.  Nothing, I repeat nothing can separate me from His bountiful love.

I hope that you might find some encouragement through my story.  When you are in Christ, you are truly His and nothing can take you from His grasp.  He loves you and cherishes you.  Your identity is in Him.

“Strength will rise when we wait upon the Lord.”  Be patient and trust Him because He’s got this.