Feeble Knees

Monday, December 13, 2004

Square One

Rick at Brutally Honest and I appear to be living parallel walks. In Good or Bad Christians - Part Deux, he has this to say:
...I'm now purposed in stumbling my way through life, loving my wife and boys, my family and friends, and others whose paths will cross my own the best way that I can. A way that is probably more flawed than it should be perhaps but honest nevertheless....[snip]And I can hope and trust that He will grant me faith when I am faithless, hope when I am hopeless and the wherewithal to continue the struggle till we come face to face. (emphasis mine)

Yea and amen. I can name that tune in three notes...

My best time in church was in the months immediately following my decision to take the mess that my life had become and hand it all back over to God. Alone one night in my apartment I realized the horrible mess I'd made of myself and my own heart, and it became apparent to me that I'd taken this incredible gift of life and liberty that God had so lovingly given me and trashed it. Devastated, I apologized to Jesus for all the damage I'd done to myself and my relationship with Him, and offered back the pieces of my heart with childlike faith that He would be able to put me back together again.

The weeks and months that followed were so beautiful. I knew in the depths of my soul that God had taken me up on my offer, and that He was at work in me to put things right, with my cooperation and great gratitude. It was so simple then. Every day was a joy. Every night it seemed there was a new revelation in the silent deep places in my heart. We were tight, Jesus and I.

It was with this unspeakable joy over my ongoing restoration that I was able to sing silly old hymns at the top of my lungs, heedless of what kind of spectacle I made of myself. I was unashamed as tears poured down my cheeks as I read my Bible. My eyes poured over Jeremiah, Isaiah and Hosea hungrily, my soul burning to read about God's power to redeem and heal. I was the happiest person I knew in church, and I couldn't understand how anyone could just sit there and go through the motions, looking so weary and burdened. Jesus was so real, so present, so alive!

I'm still trying to figure out what happened next, or where I went wrong. But there came a day when walking into the house of God was a depressing thing, and His spirit was nowhere to be found, thought I sought Him carefully, anxiously, urgently.

If we find ourselves struggling, the absolute best thing to do is go back to square one, stand there like the big dopes we are and just be honest with God about *everything*. That is humility. It is honest. It is genuine. And I believe from the bottom of my soul that God honors our honesty.

What can He do with us when we are running around like headless chickens trying to drum up faith and holiness in fear of condemnation? How is it possible for Him to impart His righteousness to us when we're so busy trying to manufacture our own?

What astounded me was the reaction of others when I stopped trying to "play Christian", when I stopped trying to fake it, it was not well received. When I started stepping down from ministries because I felt I wasn't called to them, but had just been doing them because I'd been asked, this was not met with concern, encouragement or offers of prayer. It was met with suspicion. When I started saying "no" to new obligations and stopped going to every ladies' retreat, prayer meeting, breakfast social, etc., you could almost hear the "Backslider Alert" alarm going off.

This didn't help things much. The narrowed glances, the preponderance of people suddenly concerned for my soul (when the week prior they passed me in the sanctuary without so much as saying hello) just reeked of insincerity. I didn't want to become that. I didn't want to confuse a stellar church career with being pleasing in God's eyes.

So I am back at square one. I believe Jesus was the son of God, the product of a virgin birth. He lived among us and then was crucified. On the cross He laid down his life, becoming the sacrifice that atoned for my sins. On the third day after his crucifixion, Jesus rose again and was seen on earth before He ascended to the right and of the Father. Today His Spirit resides in my heart, helping me to Love God with all my heart and my neighbor as my self. Because I am human, and imperfect, I don't always get it right. I make mistakes. I lose my temper. I doubt. I fear. I question. I get sad. But I cannot deny this knowledge in me, that I know and am known by God:

O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
(Psalm 139:1-10, NKJV)

The God who saw me formed in my mother's womb, who desired my friendship and love even then, He is a God I can trust, one I can give my heart to in faith. He will never leave me or forsake me. I am His and He will be my God, all the days of my life.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.
(Psalm 139:23-24, NKJV)

Amen and amen.

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