hope that does not disappoint

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Warning: this will be a long, rambly, getting-it-out-of-my-system post that I actually have to post so that I can try to blog normally again.

Saturday evening, we went to the sea. I had a lot of work that I needed to do on Saturday and Sunday, work that didn't get done because of a situation that arose, sending me into a steep emotional spiral that is only now beginning to settle a bit. I have been a overwhelmed, humbled, convicted, grateful, amazed at what God has shown me of Himself through what happened, at what He has shown me of myself and of who I am in Jesus.

I am rediscovering the beauty of grace, that I already stand naked before God, yet I am clothed in Jesus' righteousness. That God will never, ever force me to choose Him; in His love, He has given me the ability to deny Him, and in His love, He gently restores. It is such a lovely mystery how He renews me, transforms me, conforms me to the image of Jesus Christ.

I have realized that much of the "stripping" that has occurred for me is something that could only be taken from me, not something I could just hand over, for I don't know how deep it goes. Do you remember the rich young ruler? Jesus said for man, laying life down is impossible, but with God, all things are possible. This is why I am crucified with Christ, why my punishment has already been met at the Cross, why I may now live without fear.

"And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."(Mt. 10:38-39) I wonder at Jesus' words - leaving all for His sake.

This new life I have is not something I am finding and creating on my own - Jesus is my Life; the life I have is His life. The death that He died was mine. The stripping of me that I have experienced is not involuntary. It is my long Gethsemane, my days and weeks and months and years of entering into the fellowship of Jesus' sufferings, praying "not my will, but Thine," as I slowly loosen my grip on MY life and accept His.

We went to the sea on Saturday, and I felt. It seemed that I was feeling for the first time, the ache of the sunset light that flooded the beach and painted the water with rose-gold. I watched the waves come in, and it seemed as if each flooded over me, washing me, pulling me under, sweeping me away, throwing me finally up onto the shore of His love and slipping away with my fear.

I am not often as real with myself as I should be about my sin. I'm good at justifying, at making excuses, at holding onto me. I'm a fool, you know. I'm weak and foolish, and very, very human. I am Eve, taking that fruit because it looks like it would taste good. Because it would make me prettier or smarter or deeper or more passionate or more fulfilled or more spiritual. Yet God provided redemption for Eve. For me. At the Cross.

You know, as much as I have talked about being stripped, I have still been trying to make my life into something that is my own. I have focused on life, but not on The Life, Jesus Himself. I don't know how to do this, except to grab the simple, simple truth that any child can understand, that Jesus is my Savior. That because He loves me, I am safe - I don't have anything to fear from Him. His conviction is always, always so gentle, never condemning.

I would say that I am going through an identity crisis right now, but no, I am not really. Everything just feels very real right now, and He is very near, holding me, quelling my fear, healing my heart, helping me move where I stand frozen, unsure what to do or how to do it. We try to avoid all appearance of evil, but when evil appears good, it is only God's love for us in Jesus that keeps us safe from our own foolishness. He has sealed us for Himself.

I've been setting a lot of rules for myself lately, rules about photography, about being a mom, about being a wife, about doing this and that and the other thing. I have to be this way or do that thing or look like this or feel like that. I don't know what to do with this "permission" thing I have going with myself. I feel so guilty for changing my mind on things, having to reset my rules so often. Embarrassed. Why can I not just get up in the morning and go forward with my day without trying to set myself in a certain place for the day?

Why can't I just write a blog post off the top of my head, or take a picture and process it however I like, or just love hanging out with Piper and play ring-around-the-rosey in a messy house?

There is SO MUCH involved in being human, and in being a Christian. When you figure in the fact that I am a spiritual being with a desire for a very spiritual God who is warring against spiritual powers, it gets really overwhelming. I have not been so desperate for Him in a very long time. The peace I have comes from knowing that I am safe in Christ, even if I don't have it all figured out, and let me tell you, I don't.

Pete says I need a vacation. I think he's right. I want to go somewhere and cry and cry and cry because home is just not here. I'm never going to fit here again, and I don't know how to make sense out of all of it, and I don't really even feel like trying anymore. I just need everything to stop now, so I can just be. Just be me. Just be me in Him.
"Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel... For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day." (2 Tim. 2:8-10, 12)
I committed my life to Him. I've always been serious about that. I'm not consistent in my own strength, but I meant it. I'm scared of the Gospel. Scared of what it does to people, scared of what it will cost me. I know. Paul knew. He'd been responsible for the cost to others. When it all boils down, I know the God I have believed. I know that outside of His Son, there is no hope for me or anyone.

But Jesus did come that I might have Life, more abundantly. It is not all death and suffering. He rose again. What is it Paul says?
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.(Phil. 3:7-14, NKJV)
This is my own "press on" letter, I suppose. I trust Him in my life; I know He loves me incredibly. I know this because Jesus died for me. I know this because Jesus lives in me. I know that I am perfect before God when I come to Him in Jesus.

If you made it through this post, thanks for "listening" to these thoughts that have been swirling around in my brain over the last few days. Writing helps me clear my head. I think you're awesome for sticking around to the end. Or the stopping point anyway.


Alison said...

so beautiful. Again, I love your heart. God speaks loudly through you.

Katrina said...

Wow. Thank you for writing this! It resonates with me so powerfully.

Katrina said...

From another Katrina (who has been lurking for awhile, but never commented before)... Thank you for your honesty. I needed to hear it myself tonight.

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