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He makes me new, He is making me new

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Freedom


I sang songs in the car, my heart deep in worship, delighting in a wonderful morning....And then, suddenly the image that came to mind while I sang was of my heart... The organ itself, wrapped in sin.... Literally engulfed and tied up in an unravel-able web... Knots of selfishness, idolatry, egotistical thoughts and actions, preoccupation with myself, my self esteem, my image, my performance, my satisfaction, on and on...
 It didn't disgust me this time, as it has before-- It saddened me, as I imagine it deeply saddens Jesus.... But the truly beautiful thing I felt was the utter dependence, as I so clearly not only realized but also felt my need for grace.
I Stand broken and sin ridden, TODAY. I don't know why this felt new, but it did.
I'm not confessing some far away sin committed when I was young and stupid... Lesson learned, forgiven, moving on... I am living in the reality that my heart is under siege, taken over, like a neglected garden overgrown with weeds,overtaken by sin, NOW.... Even as I observe that I've been walking with Jesus for so many years, the truth is, sin has been my most consistent companion all along, and Jesus has been patiently waiting, coming in and out as I've allowed Him to...in momentary lapses of clarity and need.

As Brennan Manning says "to be alive is to be broken, and to be broken is to stand in need of grace"
Never have I felt this more clearly than I do now. It's not about a specific action, one large and obvious affront to His perfect grace. It is the daily, ongoing battle that rages on in my heart for my freedom, my very life.

Is it possible that I was dead to this for so long, even while in my mind, knowing the truth? Asleep perhaps? or just blind....That I really thought all this time, that it was possible to love Jesus and live so utterly consumed with myself? "You cannot serve two masters" No, I cannot....So the inescapable conclusion is, I have been serving one. 
One master: Laura. I have been serving at the altar of Laura, worshiping and catering to myself. This is a hard truth to swallow and admit, and yet unless I do, I cannot be free of this utter megalomania. The thought that it really is about me, my life, my needs, my wants, my "happiness". It isn't. IT SO ISN'T. 

If I have life, it is for His glory. If I have any good in me, it is through Him. If I have value, it's because HE loves me. All things are from Him, through Him and for Him. All things. That includes me. Not master Laura, but servant Laura. It's not about my happiness, it is about His glory and the freedom and joy that I can find in Him.

I read a while back about how we say we want to experience God more fully, and yet, we do not dare pray the prayer, because that is a dangerous prayer. It means to be open to being broken. I put the book down that night convinced I wasn't ready to be broken. Too worried about what that would mean for me. I put the book down and thought: "not yet, I'm not ready yet."

Foolishness. As if whatever I am holding onto can come even close to what He has for me!
But He knows better, and so brokenness came, all the same. My heart was already open, though I tried to close it down. My eyes could already see, though I tried to un-see the unsettling truth. There was no going back, and so it washed over me as if all this were new truth, new knowledge, when in reality it is all familiar to my mind, and yet it was a new awakening in my heart, in the midst of the pain. The pain of who I've been, who I am, and how far they are from who I want to be. The pain of the hurt I've caused, the blind selfishness I have inflicted on others, the emptiness of a life lived for self. But most of all the pain of realizing, that while He always holds onto me, I have not been holding on to Him. I have chosen to cling to this world. I have chosen myself over Him, again and again.

Yet the pain is sweet when it comes interlaced with His grace and freedom. When I am ready to see that I have nothing of worth that comes even close to what He has for me, I grow, I cling, I seek desperately, for His life, not mine. His freedom is real, His life is full. And my striving can stop. My desperate need to defend my ego, my worth, my existence, can stop, and I can rest, truly rest in Him.

And I have to cling daily. Because daily my body and heart want to serve the wrong master. I have to cling daily to His grace, or all is lost. Thankfully His grace is infinite and so are His love and His patience. 

What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Broken

This is where God met me and broke me today...

In my car, heart open and wounded, music blaring, tears falling:

(From East to West by Casting Crowns')
 
Jesus, can You show me just how far the east is from the west
'cause I can't bear to see the man I've been come rising up in me again
In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
'cause You know just how far the east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other

I know You've washed me white, turned my darkness into light
I need Your peace to get me through, to get me through this night
I can't live by what I feel, but by the truth Your word reveals
I'm not holding on to You, but You're holding on to me
You're holding on to me

(From Word of God Speak by Mercy Me)

I'm finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it's okay
The last thing I need is to be heard
But to hear what You would say

Word of God speak
Would You pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see
Your majesty

(From Stronger by Reuben Morgan & Ben Fielding)

 You are stronger You are stronger
Sin is broken you have saved me it is written Christ is risen Jesus you are Lord of all

No beginning and no end You're my hope and my defense you came to seek and save the lost you paid it all upon the cross

So let your name be lifted higher
Be lifted higher be lifted higher

He captures my heart and lifts my head. He moves me and reminds me. He holds me.
He is holding me, He is washing my eyes, He is stronger.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The love of God which is in Christ Jesus

"All that is not the love of God has no meaning for me. I can truthfully say that I have no interest in anything but the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. If God wants it to, my life will be useful through my word and witness. If he wants to, my life will bear fruit through my prayers and sacrifices. But the usefulness of my life is his concern, not mine. It would be indecent of me to worry about that." Dominique Voillaume

I read these words today in Brennan Manning's book "The signature of Jesus", a fantastic book that I am already to the middle of (and wishing I didn't go so fast so there'd be more to read longer!) since starting it Thursday.

I read them and so wished those words spoke of my soul, my heart, my love and relationship with Jesus. I read them and thought, this is who I want to be.
I've spent so many years (and especially recently) trying to "figure out what I want to be when I grow up", and today I thought "THIS!" This is not what but who I want to be. What I do is secondary to who I am, and what I want to spend my energy and focus on is being.
I want to live for, from and through the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. I want to not be concerned whether or not my life is "useful", because my life is His, and He will do with it what He will, for His purposes and His glory.
I want to not care about my appearance, my reputation, my accomplishments, and what others think. I want to count it all as white noise.
I want to be single minded, I want to live a simple life. If as quote above, Dominique Voillaume lived a simple life it is because he had only one priority: the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. Everything else pails, everything else fades, everything else is fluff.

I've spent so much time thinking, worrying, planning and striving focused entirely on myself. And where have I gotten? I am still as lost I have ever been. But one thing continues to grow over the years. My desire to get closer to what Manning calls "the center". My desire to be closer to the simple and powerful truth of Jesus Christ grows as I get older and keeps me awake at night, inconveniences me while I go about my day, interrupts my selfish and idle thoughts. And I thank God for it. I want to live in His interruptions, not in my plans. I want to live in His inconvenient setbacks, not my carefully concocted agenda. I want to live in His uncertainty, because He is all that is certain.

I haven't been honest. I have been carefully staging and covering and maneuvering so as to appear. Appear smart, deep, well read, sensitive, spiritual, you name it. Appear. I still act, and talk and post so as to appear a certain way. What an incredible waste of time and energy. I am not here to appear. I am here to live by the love of God who is in Christ Jesus. I am here to love and cherish and point to Him. What I want to appear as and be is the love of God .

I don't know how. But I do trust Him, and it is the desire of my heart. And He says something about that in Psalm 37, doesn't He? Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

My desire is to delight in Him, kind of a "chicken and egg" situation, wouldn't you say?
It would be just like God to make it this simple: I desire to delight in Him, and He promises to give me the desire of my heart.

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