By Grace - A Restless Heart Seeks Rest

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

An Anonymous Critique
You are. such. a navelgazer. which means. self focused. always thinking. about yourself. under. the guise. of thinking. about God.

sorry, kelly. i'm leaving. never to read your blog again.

You failed.

Words that greeted me from my inbox this morning, an anonymous comment left on Monday's rather brain-fogged post. Cruel words calculated to wreak heart-havoc. A voice of accusation, condemnation, dismissal.

They sink deep.

I've heard them before.

They don't affect me the way they once did.

I know they don't carry the weight of Jesus-come-in-the-flesh-to-die-and-be-raised-to-Life-again. The spirit behind the words doesn't understand grace that frees to cling to a Savior.

I know what I am. I am a navel-gazer. I am self-focused. I am human.

But I don't seek to disguise myself by talking about God. Really, the fact that I talk about Him at all gives testimony to His work in me.

A Place in God's Heart

You see, about a year ago, I gave up altogether on God. The idea of being crucified with Christ, of having everything I wanted stripped away from me with no promise of reward but God Himself - there was no appeal in it. Why should I try to serve and love Someone whose stated care for me is entirely based in His own glory?

I almost hated Him then for wanting to use me when I had the sense that the God of the Universe did not really care about me at all.
Thus my heart was grieved,
And I was vexed in my mind.
I was so foolish and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.

- Psalm 73:21-22
God destroyed my limited concept of Him. My world went silent, a strained silent listlessness that gradually eased into "wait."

In the waiting, I began to see that He is more than I can define. Or understand. Or manipulate. Or control.

And I saw something else. That His love for me prompted God to come to earth as a Man and die. For me.

Yes, I am self-focused.

We who love Him love because He first loved us, and gave Himself for us. If we are all honest, we must admit that our only point of reference for the reality of His love is - and must be - based in our own experience and understanding of what He did for us individually.

To say otherwise is to leave our humanity behind. To dismiss our need for grace. To grasp equality with God. To raise ourselves to a position to judge the weak and the fool that God has chosen for Himself.

I am the weak. I am the fool.

Yet I am not ashamed.

Good News Most Sufficient
"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ..."

- Philippians 1:6
To be holy as Jesus is holy, to be perfect and complete in God's sight, this is a work no one knows how to complete but the God who Himself is perfect. It must be His work, for all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.

The knowledge burns within my soul as I scribble here my daily ponderings, my rambles, my random. As a fool, I do not seek to cloak myself or my sin; as weak, I do not try to hide my questions or my oft-misplaced desires.

When I consider God, I do consider myself. I consider who I am in relation to Him, who He is in relation to me. And He often calls me to realize Him outside of me, but even this leads back to my heart, which responds to Him with worship. I am at times undone by Him.

Every word I speak is not His. One post from my blog does not encompass the whole story of this girl who once wanted to be something for God. Her story got rearranged. Now, she knows He will be God in spite of her.

And yet He died for her. He has chosen her to know Him. Given her this faith that she could not dredge up in a million years of trying. Predestined her to good works. Given her His Spirit as a seal upon her heart.

Oh yes, I have failed. Oh, thank GOD I have failed.

You see, I know all is not lost.

I have been redeemed already. I am being sanctified. I may give thanks for self-focused things when I am brain-fogged and still learning to speak again of God. I may live my whole life in the dust that I am and walk by this faith He has given that He Himself is my perfection, knowing that Jesus became sin for me so that I could become the righteousness of God in Him.

This is all my glory
, this Christ who took on flesh. He is the Good News that brings me boldly to the throne of Grace to freely obtain mercy I have not deserved.

Faith Not My Own
"Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

- Romans 8:8-11
It would be ludicrous for me to say that this reckoning happens overnight. It would be a lie for me to say that I am every day overwhelmed by this Gospel.

But this Eternal God, the Alpha and Omega I AM who is both Beginning and End - He does not live on my daily schedule. He exists outside of time, and His work begun in me is His to complete.

I feel like a child before Him sometimes. Puttering around at His feet, living in my dailiness, changing diapers, writing words from my limited perspective, cleaning house, preparing for a new baby, learning to pray, learning to notice His goodness in my life and giving only small, self-focused thanks when He gives me something I want.

By the grace of God, I am what I am.
"Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

"Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

- Romans 8:26-35, 37-39
I - who am nothing - have known His faithfulness, so much greater than my small faith, faithful from this God who swears by Himself and keeps His Word.

I am willing to wait for His promise. And this, I know, is Him in me.

Forgive my earth-puttering, please. He is still at work.


This post also linked at Holy Experience for Walk With Him Wednesday. It is a little off-topic, but this is what His advent means for me, how it changes my life. This is why I seek Him.

(Image © Informal Moments Photography)


katdish said...

That. Was. Amazing.

Thank you.

Lyla Lindquist said...

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

Seems to me that a navel-gazing apostle named Paul said that.

I'm new around here, so what do I know? But I'd say this thing you do, yes, it looks at you. And as it does, it points to Him. As you so beautifully lay out here, that's what He asks us to do, what He made us for: to point to Him.

Regrettable, the wounding. I've prayed for His timely healing.

FaithBarista Bonnie said...

Wow, Kelly! I am BLOWN away by your victorious response -- in Christ, open and unashamed! What a testimony. Keep preaching it, sister. There's no need to hide. You're beautiful - and so are your words.

Billy Coffey said...

This truly blessed me today. Wonderful words. said...

We are all on the same journey: Sanctification...
Daily as we live imperfect lives...

Have a blessed journey!


Jennifer said...

I came over from a link shared on twitter by faith barista and I am so glad I did. This was wonderful! Thank you for sharing your heart!

S. Etole said...

It's pretty hard to come hear and not see and hear God in action in your life ... be blessed.

Jenny said...

"Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." John 8:7

The sinner can be become sinless when under the cloak of anonymity. We have all failed, thus the sending of His only Son.

Blessings as you prepare for your sweet baby!

Leeann said...

I am so grateful for how God has and continues to work in you, for the grace with which you respond to all that God allows into your life. And I pray that MI will someday know what it is to be loved and rest in it, so they too will know how to love and Christ does.
Miss you :)

Corinne said...

I have to tell you, every time I come here it takes a while for what you write to sink in. And then I feel so blessed to have read it, and feel Him through your words.
You do good work lady.

Glynn said...

We're all human, Kelly. And this statement being human and claimed by God and claiming God was superb.

Carrie said...

Kelly, I am so sorry that someone left that comment for you, and anonymously at that.

But I really love how you turned such a hurtful comment into a post that will change lives. Thank you for sharing with us. And, yes, we ARE all human, and thereby we are all self-focused.

Angela Fehr said...

I'm sorry you were torn by someone's hurtful words. Thank you for turning it back to Jesus, and sharing where you've been. You blog has encouraged me many times as I walk my path, learning to understand the knowing-and-not-knowing, the having-all-but-not-yet-holding.

Shelli @ Hopefully Devoted said...

Your words are beautiful and I'll be pondering them for days. Thank you for sharing the grace of God.

Linda said...

It is a joy to get to know you Kelly. Your writing is lovely - written from your heart.
I think we all walk different paths in our journey in this life, but there are some things we all have in common. We are all seeking to know Him and to know ourselves in Him.
Thank you for sharing your heart. We're walking together.

Abigail Jasmine said...

Sadly people are so hateful..but what can we expect? Human's hearts are in bondage to sin. I'm not shocked anymore at the hate people express in the world...

But God's children ~ We are called to shine. So keep on shining, sister! :)

Thank you for your blog. Thank you for sharing God's truth with us readers. It needs to be out there so much more!

You inspired me to be humble more, surrender more, and get in touch with how I really am spiritually more.

Your words are beautiful & needed for this circle of bloggy world sister.

~Fellow servant of Christ

Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus said...

My heart ... it sunk when I read those opening comments. Honestly? I cried. I'm angry really, that someone would write that.

And what are any of us really, but a bunch of navel-gazers? Who of us hasn't found ourselves in the navel-gazers of the Psalms? These writers of the Psalms ... weren't they the original Biblical navel-gazers?

I pray this doesn't crush your spirit -- your beautiful, precious GOD-FOCUSED spirit.

I send my love....

Danielle said...

What a hurtful and mean thing to say, I thought as I read the anonymous comment. But by the time I'd gotten to where you write, "I don't seek to disguise myself by talking about God. Really, the fact that I talk about Him at all gives testimony to His work in me" I was cheering you on. Your testimony is beautiful and true. So thankful you took the hurtful words and point to Christ, not yourself or even your own hurt. It is truly God in you to do so. Amen!

deb said...

I don' t know what to say.
But you certainly always do .
With such God given jaw dropping beauty.

L.L. Barkat said...

Someone just passed this along to me, because an anonymous commenter left me a "disappointed-in-you" comment.

I wonder what your commenter felt she/he had lost? What she/he had wanted from you? What she/he failed to gain?

That's the way I look at. Not that you failed to give, but that the commenter somehow could no longer receive.

In a way, I accept that. None of us can be all things to all people. As we grow as artists, we must always remember this. Without apology.

I like who you are. Without apology too. :)

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