Revel in these things

Do you find it possible to revel in God and the things He is doing for you when He invites you to settle into obscure places? Can you be satisfied when He chooses to bless your spirit while allowing your flesh to be afflicted with painfully incapacitating cramps?

Is it necessary for God to fulfill your natural ambitions for self gratification in conjunction with His own ambitions for the mortification of self in you?

Can you see pain through the eyes of redemption?

Is there a desire for true life at whatever cost it may come– wherever place it may be found?

What matters more: comfort or contentment? One demands a certain set of circumstances, the other welcomes whatever the Father includes as a necessary part of His plan for your sanctification.

Is it okay for your life to become a mission field–a designated area that God can freely position Himself and His instruments to make of You a person who honors Him with everything, no matter how humbled we are by our fledgling resources. Our God can use anything for His purposes; indeed, He knows no boundaries for His glory–do you?

You can’t have everything in life, so what will you choose to have?

There are only so many things that we can enjoy in this life, so what will you choose? Will you scour the earth to make the most of your outer life in a rapidly passing succession of adornments, or pursue the life that begins in the heart and spills out into everything you do, even the people you touch?

If this sounds like I am asking you to restrict the fun you have in life, then consider this: The greatest limit you can place on yourself is to start on the outside and try to work your way in, when the whole time you could be starting where everything you want lies and working out.

Now, I am not talking about one of many popular philosophies that require us to turn inward when we face challenges, promising that when we do, we will find that each of us already has all that we need to prevail and find fulfillment. I am rather, inviting you take a look at your heart that you may notice and be struck by the full impact of what you lack. (Don’t worry, this isn’t supposed to be a self-confidence or -love building exercise, so you will know it is working when you begin to feel just the opposite.)

I believe we must focus on our hearts to determine their accurate conditions–until we do this, and continue to do it, Christ shall never mean anything to us, and we shall be choosing less than life to abide with. From this view of our hearts we will discover that we have needs that we cannot fill–not even by all the treats in the world–unless we take in what is outside of this world.

It’s not that the benefits of living in our world are not good, or we cannot enjoy them, but we do not want our life to be tied to these things. I guess if they lasted forever, it would be okay, but this just isn’t the case. They weren’t designed to replace anything that is forever. Therefore, it would be wise of us to consider the end of things and act appropriately before we must be forced into adjusting to them.

I want to enjoy my life without the fear that what I have been holding onto will be ending or dying or becoming useless. If we know anything about life, from babies we understand that life is filled with change — many of which we cannot avoid. Occasionally we have a choice to make when change sweeps into our lives. And sometimes we have the ability to commence change in our lives.

To what depth do the changes that you implement go? Are they centered around lifestyle, behavior and circumstance, or your heart–the base of who you are? To the extent that you place priority on confronting your true self and allowing God to redeem what you find, you will enjoy riches that go down into the center of who you are and delight your entire being with eternal joy.

But I thought it all had to make sense first!

I can’t trust myself to make the choice to follow God simply because doing so makes sense. If I were to define having and operating with good sense as the Bible does, I would have to admit that I am not a legitimate candidate.

I do not live based on good sense, I live based on self-interest–the two may intersect at times, but often they are two very different things. Good sense tells me to wait for a speeding car to pass before I cross the street and I heed its instruction because it agrees with my commitment to protect and care for myself. Contrarily, good sense will appeal for an early bed time that I might restore myself after a long week and I will ignore it.

As much as God’s ways may occasionally appeal to my understanding of logic (quite often it does not), this is not a strong enough motivation to deride my rebellion-bent will. At times I may vote in favor of His ways, but usually only when I see a very strong sow-and-reap theme in effect.

I will not make choices that reflect God’s heart unless I permit Him to bear His heart out within my own. The only way my will can be turned to Him is if  it has been transformed by the love that God gently and persistently pours into me.

Difficult encounters of the God kind

I know a few things about life. I know what I want–at least in terms of all the things I don’t want. But, do I really know much more than that? Have I really been around enough–experienced enough of what the Word of God declares is good for me–to be able to confidently judge such things?

I have conflicts with God over what is best for me–yet on what grounds can I charge Him with wrong? Error does not find a place in Him, neither does impotence taint His incomprehensible ambitions for redeeming me. So, how can I find fault with Him?

The only plausible conclusion is that I have a zeal for goodness and grace, but very weak form of knowledge regarding how it comes. I want what I have not known; and grow impatient and angry when it doesn’t appear in the rigidly bold fonts I imagined it.

So, is there really a problem with what I am encountering, or am I the problem that is being encountered by the goodness and grace of God?

And love broke the deathly silence…

I thought I had a really good idea. I know, most people call it reaching for perfection, but to my mind it was nothing less than survival. To get this life-project off the ground, honesty and authenticity went out the window in favor of establishing habits and actions that would always make me appear to be “just right”. The only thing that has really mattered to me is the bottom line: Am I what I’m supposed to be; am I acceptable; am I fit for love?

Those three questions and their infinite variations have haunted me my whole life. I had no freedom to truly offer myself to God or receive His offerings in return. But, until very recently I did not realize this. Until making myself constantly presentable became too painful. Like applying makeup to a face festering with blistered infection–a normal habit not only becomes not an option, but a danger to one’s health and healing. That’s where I was.

All of a sudden, honesty became the only way I could possibly live with problems I was facing. My disgust with the pain God’s plan’s were causing me demanded that I speak without editing for divine appeal. As I opened the valve and released a trickle from my heart the pressure increased, forcing me to enable more and more to drain from me. I poured my true self out to God, and encountered the most surprising result: I was free, and with all my hate, yet He held me.

He did not lose me to my emotions and my sin, He set me free from the prison in which I had allowed them to hold my heart. I’ve discovered that God can handle my ugliness, He just asks that I agree to let Him. If I keep everything in for the sake of my fear and pride, I am unwittingly nurturing what will harden my heart towards the only One who can make it pure.

And the goal here is purity–the work of God–and not perfection–the misinformed work (without end) of man. The work of purification of our souls begins exactly the moment that we present to Him our need for it.