Thursday, August 25, 2011

Becoming a Professional Cliff Jumper


I’m waaaayyyy too into myself. It’s humiliating really.  Not something I want to admit in my head let alone say out loud.  I felt like God wanted me to start a blog for months now and I’ve been dragging my feet.  Why? Because I worry entirely too much about what people think. What if someone thinks it’s stupid? What if the haters out there hate on me? What if no one reads it? Who are you anyway, to think you could write something other people might want to read?

Arghh. You get the general idea.  So I put it off and avoided God and pretty much waited until I felt like the Grand Canyon stood between me and Him.  Have you ever done that? OK, Maybe not. Maybe you are more clued in than I am! 

In order to get out of that mess, I had to come to grips with a few things:
1)      I did not trust God. Ouch. 
2)      Hiding as a strategy sort of works, but cuts you off from God and so is quite unsatisfactory in the long run.
3)      I was terrified of failure. The big question here was: why is failure so terrifying to me? What lack is there in my spiritual make up that I can’t fail? God showed me that my fear of failure proved that my perspective about the source of my worth was all messed up.  I believed that people’s approval of me affected my worth.  But the truth is, God is the only one who establishes my value and I need to look to Him. He says I am beautiful and blameless by His grace; loved unconditionally.   

When I worry about what other people think I am saying that somehow what they think matters more than what God thinks about me. It’s like I’ve forgotten that in the end, when I stand before the throne and the truth is revealed, God is the only one who will have any say in evaluating me and my life. No one else will be standing there throwing their two cents in. Only His opinion matters. Oh dear. I had to repent of that one.  Actually, this is something that I have repented of many times; something I am working on right now (more marinating!) I’m a “pleaser” by nature so this has been a big issue.  Starting this blog, whether anyone ever read it or not, was an act of obedience that felt like a cliff jumping experience.  What do you know; I lived to tell the tale!

Anyone else have a cliff jumping experience to share?

Colossians 3:23-24
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

God is Not a Short Order Cook


The hair on the back of my neck prickles whenever I hear the word “just” in a spiritual conversation.
“Just trust in Jesus.” Or how about this one? “You just need the Lord’s peace.” It isn’t that these statements aren’t true; they often come right out of the Bible.  Rather it’s the reality that simple almost never equates with easy.  How I want it to be easy.  The Bible says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)  What Paul doesn’t say is, “And that transformation is an ongoing, often difficult life process so you’d better get used to it.” I don’t want it to be a process. I want an event! One big moment and it’s over. All done. Alas I am never in the process of being micro waved; instead it’s always the marinade, the slow cook for me.

I’ve been thinking about the entry I wrote on forgiveness. The moment when it all came together and I felt truly free was amazing. But that wasn’t really an event, and I felt like I made it sound like a one-time thing.  In reality, it was a very long process, like most of my spiritual growth.

The truth is, I’ve had to learn that my faith isn’t about doing the right set of things to make God happy and earn my place. My faith is about becoming like Christ. My Bible isn’t a thing to do on my checklist; it is the blueprint whereby I learn what God looks like.  This life process is really about becoming like Him, being transformed into His image and likeness (2 Corin. 3:18)

I hate to admit this because it doesn’t sound spiritual at all, but I don’t really like going through the process of transformation. It makes me feel stupid that it takes me so long. What’s wrong with me that I can’t just repent and get over it? I feel ugly, the way I hang onto my sin and struggle to let it go. I don’t like the pain of facing and dealing with it either. But the alternative is worse.  I can’t stand having distance between me and God.  I am unashamedly addicted to His presence. That and the fact that when I quit focusing on my failure and focus instead on Him, I realize how much He loves me and believes in me and it gives me the strength to keep going.  It also helps when I get through the storm and am able to appreciate the growth and freedom I experience because of the victory.  That gives me courage to fight the good fight another day.

What keeps you going in the transformation process?

Romans 12:2
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

2 Corinthians 3:18
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wrestling With Forgiveness

I was at a wedding this summer and there were people present whom had done me wrong.  Not small wrongs like not being invited to that Fourth of July barbeque. These were the kind of wrongs that some people spend their lifetime trying to get over.  It is so tempting to go through the litany of their offenses right now and prove to you just how wronged I was, to see the incredulity in your eyes and watch you leap to my defense. How satisfying that would be! And how wrong on so many levels.  It’s hard to admit, the faults in my own thinking when I’ve been wronged. My nature is to demand satisfaction, to want to punish those who deserve to be punished.  It seems the right thing. My sense of justice satisfied.

I know the churchy things to say, the right things. I’ve read the scriptures and heard the sermons.  Love as you have been loved. Forgive and you will be forgiven. I revel in that forgiveness often, but apparently not often enough. Here I was, in a church no less, facing my tormentors and struggling to forgive.  It’s not as if I hadn’t forgiven them before. I know that forgiveness, like love, is a decision, an act of the will. And so I had forgiven many times, in my heart, in prayer and out loud to others. I had declared my forgiveness and prayed for their souls. I had committed to not broadcasting my hurts, knowing that I would hurt others with my maligning words, and that would not be forgiving. I had asked God to help me and sought out good counsel. I read the scriptures on forgiveness and I had done everything I knew to do.

So I sat there as the worship music played and cried out for some sort of deliverance. I needed help. I needed a revelation of the truth.  And it came.  I don’t suppose it was really anything much different than what I already knew, but I knew it afresh and I knew it deep in my heart where it counts. I knew that God is the essence of true forgiveness. His love is so great that when He looks at me He loves me, despite my many offenses, and He has forgiven me fully. He’s omniscient. He hasn’t forgotten the things I’ve done that have been covered by the blood. He’s forgiven them.  Forgiveness and love are at the core of who He is. If I want to be like Him, I have to embrace His character and the qualities He values. It’s beyond trying, it’s becoming.  It was a small miracle that day.  With peace in my heart I embraced those whom I felt I could never look in the eyes again and reveled in the truth that God had made me new, He had led me in becoming more like Himself.  It was a long time coming.    

Do you have any keys for experiencing real forgiveness?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Longing

I’m longing for God. The cry of my heart going up before the throne of heaven right now is “I want to be closer to you, Lord. I know there is more to you than what I know.”  I’ve been here before, this place where I look at where I’m at with God and realize it’s not enough. Sometimes when I’ve gotten distracted and lost my way in my relationship with Him I find myself here. But other times it doesn’t seem to be triggered by anything or than an inexplicable longing for more of God than what I have. Here I am, supposedly older and wiser, yet feeling the same sense of dissatisfaction I knew when I was 20. I thought I’d have it all figured out by now, but no matter how far down the road I’ve traveled with the Lord, it is not enough. Because I know there’s more. And I know that the pursuit of more of God is always worth it. I have never been disappointed by Him. My relationship with my Lord is the most precious thing I have in this life, but I know that I haven’t begun to touch all that there is being close to Him.

Deuteronomy 4:29 “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Why am I writing this blog? Great question!
1)     I feel led
2)     I love to write
3)     I’m intrigued by social media, though I haven’t dabbled in it much
4)     I'm into talking about spiritual things and thinking about spiritual truth, but more in a personal, relational manner rather than a theological one
5)     Posting to this blog will drive me to God in a new and hopefully meaningful way (which I want). I’m looking to fan the flames of my relationship with the Lord afresh. Of course I’d love it if others were blessed as well.

Any others out there who are also longing for more of God?