Sunday, January 1, 2012

What's New

New Year's Day 2012, and I am thankful for a God who promises to make all things new.

During 2011 the Lord did a lot of hard work in my life. Hard for me, that is. In fact, He was so busy working on my heart that I don't know how He had time to manage angels and run the universe and all that jazz. I guess that's why He's God and I'm not.

Anyways, looking back, I wish that God had put one of these signs on my forehead:

Like most businesses, I did not have the luxury of "shutting down" while God was remodeling me. Life kept coming, and people had to deal with me--dust, sandpaper, stray nails, and all. I'll admit it. I wasn't pretty, inside or out. I am not excusing my bad behavior, just acknowledging that when God peeled back the walls of my life, some major flaws were revealed. He had to expose them to fix them. 

So I spent much of 2011 feeling like this:

And many people kindly tolerated my mess. (thank you)

What follows are my reflections on God's specific work in my life. I needed to write them down to process it, to acknowledge it, and to begin to understand it. I continue with the above analogy, imagining myself as a home, and God as a construction worker. Be warned, this may not be very entertaining reading. I share it not because I find it amazing or informative, but because I LOVE it when, after a particularly dark season, God gives me a glimpse of what He's been up to. Here's the work that God was doing in my darkness, as far as I can understand and verbalize it:

My pride was like termites, eating me away from the inside out. Few could detect its sinister presence, but it was there, destructive and painful. When God fumigated, my pride scurried, and perhaps it became more obvious to those around me that I had been harboring such an evil pest. I could no longer conceal pride's sense of entitlement, superiority, and self-righteousness. I thought I myself might suffocate in the extermination process, but God sprayed just enough to kill the pride but spare its willing host. Pride keeps trying to take up residence again, but now that I've been rebuilt and I know what it looks like, I'm a much less susceptible target.

In addition to the termite-like pride, a major crack was discovered in the foundation of my faith. I experienced struggles where I could not see God's goodness nor feel His love, I began to question His very existence. When I could not deny His existence (my logic won't allow it), I began to question His character. The trials of 2011 did not cause my foundation to crack; rather, they revealed a crack that had been there all along. The crack in my foundation was the faulty belief that I could define God based on my experience of Him. I cannot. God ripped out that foundation, and replaced it with the true Cornerstone: Jesus. In the end, I cannot explain painful circumstances or wayward feelings. But I can trust that God is who He says He is, and that He never changes. His love was demonstrated on the cross...and I'd bet at that moment, he wasn't "feeling" the love either...He chose, instead, to LIVE it, to DEFINE it, once and for all.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
Finally, God has been tearing down some walls. I  spent our last several years in the States in jobs that allowed me a considerable amount of autonomy. I LOVED my autonomy. I loved setting my own hours, being my own boss, choosing my own activities. I could give you all sorts of spiritual language to justify the ways that I had successfully compartmentalized my life. I would quote books like "Boundaries" and point to the verses that talk about Jesus retreating into a quiet places to be alone. In the end, my life had become my own, to live as I pleased. It was clothed in Christian garments and described in Christian language, but truly, it was designed for my pleasure more than for His glory. My autonomy had become my insulation--my walls--protecting me from losing myself. The problem is, Jesus asks us to lose ourselves. He has asked me to lose myself. To do this, I have to let Him tear down my walls.

Our family now has the tremendous joy and overwhelming challenge of living in community. We pray with others at 7 a.m. every morning. We pray with others every evening at 6 p.m. we meet in small groups where we confess sin and hold people accountable. Our house is free game. Our time is not our own. Everything we have is shared. Our services are called upon...daily. Sometimes hourly. I have scoured my Bible looking for verses to uphold my belief in things like "personal faith" and "private spirituality." They do not exist. Christianity cannot be separated from community. I am certainly allowed to have time alone with God, but I am never excused from being in fellowship with others. Real-life--nitty-gritty--always messy--"can I borrow your car?"--"will you give me a ride?-- "can you feed 3 three more?"--"will you drop everything right now?"--fellowship.

I have no walls. Sometimes I am given the grace of moments alone, but when the solitude is broken, there is no where to hide. The good news is, Jesus can tear down all our walls and yet keep us sheltered. He can wring us dry of all we have to give each and every day, and still leave us feeling satisfied. He takes our greatest treasures, and just as we realize we're broke, He provides for us more extravagantly than we could have provided for ourselves.

I am grateful for His work in 2011. I am able to see His fingerprints on my life and delight in the changes He is making. I'm still a work in progress, thankful for His patience, His grace, and His Spirit. He could have left me full of pride, with a misguided faith, living for myself. Instead, He saved me.

And He keeps saving me. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for such honest reflection. A new year is bringing a refined you. Never easy but always better.

    I'm looking forward to reading how God uses you this year.