Tuesday, June 6, 2017

How to really, really, really love Jesus..and not drive people absolutely crazy.. (I’m still learning)

When I was in sixth grade I had bossed my way into being the leader of a particular group of kids that I had established as my “club.” I was very active in my church and Teens-4-Christ organization that met in the mornings and was proudly leading (okay, pushing) all my friends to do the same. I had a small navy Bible I was carrying around in my backpack and a silver cross around my neck. I do not believe this is what caused the drama that ensued however it is what my friend accused me with. 

It came out of nowhere to me at the time but looking back in my wisdom of today (eyes rolling here folks) I can imagine that it had been building while I was oblivious to this fact. The moment I realized there was a problem was when my ‘very bestest friend in the whole wide world’ informed me that I was being too damned God-y and everybody was sick of it. My 12-year-old self was shocked by this. She proceeded to tell me to knock it off and I believe I argued (of course I did) and then we had our falling out. Our group split in two and the next few days at school consisted (in my memory) of a lot of walking around and past each other with our noses in the air. (Anyone else feel like 12-year-old friendship sounds an awful lot like adult-ish friendship sometimes?) 

So anyway I can’t remember much from there except that when we found out I was moving away a few months later all was forgiven and we were busy focusing on how devastated we were to be forced to separate the deepest most bestest friendship ever. I think this memory sticks with me so much because I have experienced it, in varying degrees, over and over again my whole life. 

When you are like me (which, I’ve found most people aren't and that’s kind of the point isn’t it) you find yourself clinging to the concept of another world. A world that is the opposite of the one you’re in makes sense when it’s so apparently obvious that you simply do not belong in the one you’re in. Feeling like you just don’t fit in here, anywhere really, or even have any interest in this world can tempt you to “check-out”. I have definitely struggled with that. I want to bury myself in a book or in solitude, in prayer, in music. I want to seek out the spiritual world leaving this one behind. Or, in other times, I have actually tried to absorb myself in the world and lost myself there to new identities in relationships. None of it is what I would call healthy. 

My problem has often been that I took it too deep, too heavy, too extreme for other’s liking. I don’t consider myself an extremist with most things, but when it’s come to God I apparently am. When God calls my heart I find myself abandoning everything else to seek Him and losing sight of anything on this earth. I think it is because it is what I truly long for. When truth is revealed to me I must revel in it and I will admit I find it bursting out of me and onto whoever is in my path. I struggle with being socially acceptable. I just don’t seem to really care. I am laughing as I say that! But I do care about pushing people away. Not necessarily even from me but from God. I don’t want to misrepresent in some way or lead others to a dislike of spiritual things so I know I need to reign it in sometimes. 

Like the title says I’m still learning how to do this. One thing I’ve learned is that people will accept spiritual truths where it is expected in places like churches so location seems to be important. Another key is timing. You can discuss deep things on Sunday mornings but on a Monday afternoon people are less open to it. Oh, also if an important person like say a celebrity says ‘God is good’ they will cheer that so if you’re not Justin Bieber status you may need to hold off. And another opening is to be a trendy popular book of the moment with like a one-word title so maybe try writing one of those. The last thing I would mention is that you’ll have to keep the spiritual talk to short brief statements and then switch back to the secular life around you before you make someone mad. 

(My usual attempt at humor that somehow comes out as snarky)-ness aside I do love the people in this world. I think this is why it’s so important for us to have Christ-centered relationships. I can love people and do life with them and then when I get to gather on a Saturday morning at Dusty’s house and do Jesus with them and focus on being Deeply Planted in the Word I can let my soul sing as we dive deeper and deeper into the kind of connection a women’s ministry can truly bring. Thank you, Sister!

I could go on..and on & on.. but I’ll save that for the chapter ;) and end the blog post here. To sum up, loving Jesus means loving others and you can’t love others by preaching to them (unless you are in fact a preacher and it is in fact Sunday morning and now we’re back to what I pointed out before.) To love others means to care about what hurts them, excites them, encourages them. It means to serve. It is yet another way to die to self and to self-righteousness. And you CAN do this by His strength and all for His Glory.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Doubt

I find myself battling doubts more than I ever have now. It feels strange to be questioning things in my mind that I've known my whole life as truth while my heart is more overtaken than ever before. I guess it is easier to claim belief while running about living your own life than it is to rest in that belief when you've actually handed your life over and given up the reins. Just like you can say you trust the rope but you can't really prove it until you've bailed off the cliff.
Now I have a rushing feeling that bounces between exhilaration & fear and I am clinging to my driver, holding onto that rope with all my might. I remind myself this too is by His design. Now I see verses such as 2 Timothy 1:7 differently.
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." 
I no longer think of my social anxiety when I read this. Fear isn't defined in terms of "will people like me" anymore. I now think of the doubts and fears that the Enemy stirs up in me to make me second guess. I think of Eternity and separation from God and falling away and my sin. I truly only fear not feeling the way I do now and losing the closeness in my relationship with my Lord. It all makes my previous existence feel so shallow to me. 
I suppose it to be like when someone goes through an illness, a death, a trauma - a loss of some kind and now looks at their previous concerns as frivilous wasted energy. It reminds me of the memes that say "all I want for Christmas is a cure for cancer." It also makes me see how powerful our desires can feel to us in one moment.. that is, until we find ourselves wanting so much more.
It reminds me of C. S. Lewis in Weight of Glory.
  "It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
I am not so easily pleased. I want more. SO much more. And what I want is so much bigger than me. 
I cannot be content with my happiness when what I want is joy. I will not be satisfied by worldly riches when what I seek is Heaven. I cannot be appeased with achievements, attention, likes or accolades when I'm seeking God's Glory. 
So when my mind starts playing tricks on me and has me questioning I remind myself that there is no good for me apart from God. (Psalms 16:2) I will not ever be satisfied by a lesser existence than living for Christ. Living for myself will only make me miserable. I am not a good god to myself! Once you've seen the best you won't be content with less. Once you've seen the Glory of the Lord you can't be happy glorifying anything else. So I forsake myself for the sake of myself. (Thank you, JR Vassar) And even more than that, I do it for the Supreme God of the universe who loved me enough to save me from myself in the first place. 
"For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen." Romans 11:36

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