Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Brat Cometh

Oh Lord, help me!  This is the third week of the Radical Read Along and I admit I don't want to write a blog post.  Pretty much my attitude toward this whole chapter is, "That's all well and good in words, but I DON'T WANT TO!"  What a spoiled little brat I am!
This is how God works.  He puts his people in positions where they are desperate for his power, and then he shows his provision in ways that display his greatness. (pg 48)
I have read, and re-read, and re-read this chapter, and every time I get to that sentence I have to make myself keep going.  This is like a rusty cheese grater to my unsanctifed parts. I don't want to have to be in hard positions.  I don't want to be put there by the One who is working the hard positions for my good and His glory.  I don't want to rely on God to be sovreign.

I like to talk about how much I trust God.  I like to think that I am so capable of serving Him and bringing Him glory.  I like to think that I am capable, skilled, and strong enough for anything.
I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul. (William Ernest Henley)
No, none of that is true.  I don't trust Him as I should.  In my own power I can't serve Him.  He brings Himself glory.  All of my righteousness (skills, confidence, gifts) is filthy rags.  He is my light, my strength, my song.  He is the master of my fate, He is the Captain of my soul.  I am nothing.  But I don't want to need Him.

Why don't I trust God to be enough?  Why do I feel the need to supliment the gospel, as if the Creator of the universe taking on wrath for my sake is not good enough?  Who do I think I am that I could add even one thing to God to make Him better?  I see what He has brought me through, how He has utterly resued me, and I am thankful.  So why can I not trust Him to guide me through the rest of life, when He has so obviously guided me thus far?

Oh Lord, help to make much of you.  Help me to trust your will.  Help me to rely on your gift of the Spirit rather than panic.  Help me to rest.  Help me to see You as you are, so that I see myself in light of You, not the other way around.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Do I trust Him?

When did it become taboo to counsel people to trust God?  Every time I read the Bible I am confronted with the same words, "Trust ME."  God knows that I don't trust Him as I ought, so He has jam-packed His love letter to me with reminders of His faithfulness.  Yet, when I talk to people about the things I'm wrestling with (Jacob style) they rarely counsel me to trust God.  This is not a judgment on my friends, I do the same thing. So why do we not encourage each other to trust God?  Are we too scientific for that, or is it that we are control freaks? 

When I talk to people about our inability to get pregnant I hear all kinds of things.  Some have suggested that I talk to their friends or family members who have had infertility issues.  As if somehow a bunch of frustrated, depressed, confused, angry women in a room together is a good idea!  Some have asked me why we haven't just done any number of fertility treatments that worked for some distant relative or friend of theirs.  Right, because I'm made of money, and would love to spend everything I have on something that is a maybe, and for many women is a no.  Some have laughed it off like, why would you want kids (while they are holding a screaming toddler who just doesn't want to obey mommy.)  I admit, other people's children have the capacity to make me want to get a hysterectomy, and yet I know from talking to these same stressed out mommies that when it is good it is better-than-amazing good.  And then there are the times where I just have to walk away while people are telling me that acupuncture, special foods, and adopting will magically open up my womb.

It is a rare friend who will tell me that they don't understand why this is happening, but they do understand that I need to trust God.  I can't tell you how valuable that is to a person in the depths of despair.  Reaffirming truth that the person already knows, not in a "please stop crying, this is awkward" way, but in a "I love you too much to let you deny the truth" way, can help them remember who is in control of this mess called life.  Even in the times where it aggrivates me to hear AGAIN that I need to fully rely on God, I am eventually thankful for the reminder that I have to submit all things to Him, not just the things that I'm joyful about.

But how do I break the taboo around the truth?  I guess that is where genuine fellowship comes in.  If I am in someone's life, and we are holding each other accountable, then I should be bold enough to remind my friend to trust God, even when it hurts.  I should be humble enough to hear it from someone who loves me enough to say it.

Nevertheless, not my will, but Yours be done.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Exchanging the Truth

There was a time in my life when I was searching for truth.  I was in my early 20s, and I just wasn't sure that the truth I had been immersed in my entire life was legitimate.  I don't know that I fully turned away from God, but I definitely questioned if Christianity was all it was cracked up to be.

I read the Koran, I studied yoga as a religion (at it's core it is truly religious, not just good exercise,) I read about Hinduism, and Buddism, and even Native American beliefs.  I wanted to see what I was missing.  What I found was that all of these religions have some similarities with Christianity.  There are a lot of mythological stories that sound a lot like things I had grown  up hearing in church.  They're all basically the same.  At least that is what I convinced myself.

Yet nothing satisfied my deepest heart longing.  Nothing comforted in the moments of despair.  Nothing satisfied the hunger that was eating away at my soul.  There was aching, longing, calling within me that I couldn't deny.  When I would go to church I would just weep, hearing God's word and singing praises to my Creator broke my heart.  No amount of reading, studying, meditating, or explaining was as sweet as the coming of my Savior.  My brother David Platt says it so well:

What would you think if I told you that the God on the top of the mountain actually came down to where we are?  What would you think if I told you that God doesn't wait for people to find their way to him, but instead he comes to us? ... Let me introduce you to Jesus.

I can think back to the moment in my life when I realized that all religions weren't the same.  It wasn't a day I can pinpoint, but it was about a year process of my Father running out to meet me on the road, clothing me in His righteaousness, declaring me His child, and bringing me into the family so that I could feast on the nourishing Word.  He has disciplined me, brought me low, and forgiven the things that I could never have found forgiveness for through my own actions or made up righteousness.  He has given me new life, and declared me worthy of salvation not because I am worthy, but because He is God and He declares it.  The more that I feasted on the meat of His word, the more my hunger for it grew.  But it wasn't the gnawing hunger of a lost and lonely heart, it was the hunger of fire shut up in my bones!

Then my Creator lead me to Romans, so that I could understand His story better.  It took me a long time to get past Chapter 1.  Here is the sweetness that broke my heart open even further.

 18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.25For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
 How often have I professed to be wise and yet exchanged the truth of God for a lie?!  How often have I chosen a pasteurized version of the gospel where I choose Jesus because I realized I need a friend?  How often have I refused to see His setting me apart, His choosing me, His blood on my behalf, all because that was His will, not my goodness?  How often have I worshiped the creature and called it the creator?

I have studied my heart out, but God uses the foolish things of this world to confound this idiot who thinks she is wise.  I have decided what I want to be as a wife to my husband, but God uses my weakest parts to bring glory to him in my marriage.  I have decided that I will have children now, but God has made this barren woman rejoice in His house as the joyful mother of other people's children.  I have searched for truth, but Truth found me.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What was I thinking?

This is a change of pace for this place I call my blog, both in that I don't think anyone actually ever reads this, and that it has a focused intent for the next few weeks/months.  Doing a "Radical read-along" with many amazing folks through this amazing lady's blog has made me think I might just be crazy, and I've started getting strange looks from fellow Christians, which is always fun!  So, here we go on a new adventure...

Am I willing to give up everything for the sake of the One who gave up everything for me?  I give money to missionaries that I love and pray for.  I help in fundraising efforts for mission trips going out from my church.  Heck!  I even went on a trip to Guatemala.  I spend time with other people's teenagers, gladly (most of the time) loving them through their messiness.  We try to find things to cut out of our budget so that we can support church planting and adoptions.  I'm a pretty radical Christian right?  Or am I like a ridiculously wealthy person who gives to charity to alleviate some guilt and also get a tax break?  Some spoiled kid who does community service for the sake of getting out of more serious punishment?

I used to dream of being a missionary, living in a foreign land, loving people for Jesus.  Then i got older, realized that was a lot of hard, heart-breaking work that I wasn't sure I wanted, married a man who has a hard time traveling to another state, much less another country, and laughed it off as the dreams of youth, like when I said I wanted to be an astronaut or a paleontologist or a lawyer.  I decided (of my own volition mind you) that we (once married it becomes a we excuse, not just an I excuse) just weren't called to ministry, and we would just try to support our local church, and maybe go on short term stuff if we had the money.  What?!  Jesus included me in the "Go into all the world" part of the Great Commission, and yet I chalked it up to Him not meaning ALL the world since my husband doesn't travel well!  Are you kidding me?  What a wimp I am!

We just finished a sermon series on Luke at our church, and we kept coming across things like "let the dead bury the dead, come follow Me," and "sell everything you have, give it to the poor and follow Me," and "whoever wants to follow Me must hate their family" and my personal favorite "whoever preserves their own life with lose it, but whoever loses their life for My sake with find it."  Meanwhile we're working through the Heidelberg Catechism with the youth and get to the Ten Commandments.  In trying to get them to think of what idols are,, I tell them it's anything in our lives that we love as much or more than God.  There is no competition, He is to be our only love, not one of many.  At the same time I'm reading through Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, and see all of the times that the people did evil in the sight of the Lord, defiled His holy temple, and had to be brought low in order to see their sin.  Then it hits me, my relationship to everyone and everything should look like hate in comparison to my love for God, and it doesn't.  My body is the temple of the Most High, and yet I have filled the dwelling place of my Creator with idols of comfort, family, financial stability, church activities, food, and have pushed the holy altar of God to the corner so that I don't have to feel obligated to lay my life upon it.

Jesus wants me to be healthy, wealthy, and wise right?  Jesus wants me to raise sweet little babies who look like their momma, have brains like their daddy, and know Bible verses by learning cute little songs.  Jesus wants us to retire early, send our babies to good colleges, and always teach them the importance of 10% to God and 10% to savings.  Right?  This is my future right?  Wait, where does "deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me" fit into that?  ummm, it doesn't.

What if we haven't been able to conceive because God has children for us who look like other mommas and daddys?  What if God has given us the wisdom to get out of debt so that when He calls us to full-time ministry we don't have the weight of debt holding us back?  What if He directed us to a church planting church so that we can be church planters?  What if He gave us a beautiful home so that we can bring beautiful, desperate, pregnant women into a safe place where adoption is the answer, not abortion?  What if He has brought crazy missionaries into our lives not just so we can support them financially, but to give us inspiration to go?  What if I really believed what He said, and obeyed it?  What if I let Him break my heart for the world that he longs to save, for the billions of people who haven't heard, for the millions of children without parents, for the people who are my eternal family?  What if I stop trying to control everything, and understand that He effortlessly "upholds all things by the word of His power." (Heb 1:3)

In His sovreign plan He is working all things to conform me into the image of Christ, who is the exact representation of the nature of the Almighty Father.  What makes me think that He should look like me?  He is making me look like Him.  With the word of His power.