Click here to read Part I.
Click here to read Part II.
Click here to read Part III.
Click here to read Part IV.
We have journeyed through God’s breaking of the things that were hindering my relationship with Him (Parts I, II, and III). We’ve looked at why I was denying him access into the depths of me (Part IV). So, now, we get to look at the final piece. Taking this broken shell and rebuilding it in Him…
A Bit of Vulnerability… Part V
He is lovingly correcting me…
I have a friend who told me that fears are rooted in a grain of truth, and it’s when we focus on that grain of truth we lose our hope.
She’s real smart.
But, seriously, this is exactly what was happening with my fear of God. Because the horrible truth is… My best is not good enough.
Over referenced, but applicable verses to this point:
Rom. 3:23 “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”
Rom. 7:18 “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”
And the kicker:
Is. 64:6 “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”
(If you wish to not be grossed out, skip this next paragraph) The phrase, “polluted garment” isn’t what the original Hebrew says. It says “menstrual rags.” The best we can achieve and give to God, on our own, is the equivalent of giving Him “menstrual rags.”
So, it appears I’m correct in my fear. I want to glorify Him. I want to give Him the praise and adoration due to His holy name. And I can’t. Or, well, I can, but I may as well be giving Him trash.
So, it’s in the midst of this terrifying truth, that the Lord began gently correcting each of my twisted thoughts about Him in the perfect order, like chain of dominoes…
One thing that brings me the most joy ever on the planet, is to see my friends and family members displaying their talents. I have been to (and videoed) many a performance – operas, musicals, concerts, dance performances, sporting events, etc… After I moved to PNG, we even tried to Skype me in so I could watch my friend’s senior music recital. When I have kids, I’m going to be “that mom,” – yelling just a little too loudly at the fact that my four-year-old kicked a soccer ball in the right direction. And that’s how I feel when I’m watching my friends and family display their talents. Like a proud parent. And through the persistent truth speaking of one of my friends into this area, it finally sunk in that this is the way God views His children. And this includes me. He looks at me with the proud affection of a father, like, “That’s my kid!!!” And this affection permeates ALL of His interaction with me. Like with my mom, when I was six (see story from Part I). I had lied. I was repentant and full of sorrow. She comforted and then corrected/punished me. This is how He approaches my sinful state. Not as an angry, disappointed tyrant.
(Side bar: I’m not trying to diminish God’s hatred of and wrath against sin. I know that He is a God of love AND justice and that His justice will come down harshly. Just like if I had lied to my mom, again, under the same circumstances, she would have shown more “wrath” towards me than the first time, and so on and so on if the pattern continued.)
Many, many, many times in my life, I have seen and experienced the fall out of Christians incorrectly throwing around the phrase, “the Lord told me…” or making decisions that were supposedly after “prayerfully seeking” the direction God wanted them to go. By the grace of God, this did not leave me with a “Christians are hypocritical liars who use “God” to just do what they want, I’m done with this” attitude. But it did leave me with a “if these leaders who I know love God and do actually seek Him can get this off track and trick themselves into thinking they’ve heard from God when it’s really just them talking to themselves… I’ve got no chance” complex.
So, now that I knew of the Lord’s affection for me, it not only spoke into these areas:
If He has this affection for me, then He doesn’t regret picking me.
If He has this affection for me, then when I seek Him, He will be found.
If He has this affection for me, He wants me to be “successful” by His standards. He will lead me where He wants me to go.
But, it also spoke into the over arching falsehood that I had no hope of correctly hearing His voice:
If He has this affection for me, He will make Himself heard. He will not leave me out in the cold to guess His will. He is bigger than my ability to misinterpret Him.
If He has this affection for me, then He doesn’t want me to screw things up. And when I inevitably do, He will work in them to get glory for Himself and move me back to where I am supposed to be.
Basically, He is bigger than my ability to screw-up. This takes off a lot of pressure.
And we now reach the final domino – the Holy Spirit and my inability to give anything of worth back to God.
Part IV ended with the idea that, the Holy Spirit feels like cheating. He’s a loop-hole we shouldn’t need, but God must reluctantly give us, because we’re inept.
And as I first typed out that idea in an e-mail, the Lord very inconspicuously and gently brought to mind the rebuttal to that argument, and then solidified it with an analogy. That’s it. No mountain-top revelation. No writing on the wall. He met me where I was in that moment. His scared, crying, child finally admitting her fears to Him rather than ignoring them. And as I wrote the phrase, “the Holy Spirit feels like cheating” the immediate thought He had enter my mind was, “You know that’s not true.” But He didn’t just stop there. Just because you know something ISN’T true, doesn’t mean you know what, instead, IS true. And I think that had been my trouble through this whole process. I knew certain things WEREN’T true. But I didn’t know the things that went in their place that WERE true. And so, He filled in truth…
(The following is an excerpt from the original e-mail I keep referencing. I have edited some of the original language I used to be more… umm… missionary appropriate. But everything else is as I wrote it that night. There is no way in the world I, in my crying, broken state could have come up with these ideas on my own, so I wanted to share the original, “un-polished, non-blog version” with you.)
The phrase I just thought of was, “the Holy Spirit feels like cheating.” But the rebuttal to that is, “No. He enables us to begin to approach the fullness of life God intended to have before we broke the world He created. It’s not cheating. It’s a necessary part of living to the fullest.”
I think the Holy Spirit just rocked my world with that thought…. because for the first time, I can actually see the freedom that comes from belonging to Christ.
It’s not guilt that “I can’t.” It’s, “the world is broken, you broke it. He unbreaks it. Are you going to let Him unbreak you, or not?”
I sin. I have messed up. I participated in the breaking of this world. I rebelled. But He chose me anyway. There’s no debt to repay. It’s this – “You messed up. Ok, let’s move on. Hold on, because you messed up, and the whole world hasn’t been righted yet, you’re going to need the Holy Spirit for maximum life living potential. Here He is. Listen to Him. Ok, now let’s move on…”
Another analogy… It’s like I’m a photograph. And the Holy Spirit is the bumping up of the saturation of the photograph. It doesn’t make the picture different. It doesn’t change what the photo is of. It just enhances it to its fullest, maximum pictureness.
It like, “This is Leah.”
*Leah is saved, the Holy Spirit enters her life*
“OOOHH. THAT’S Leah.”
In other words, we were meant for joy. We were meant to live in perfect relationship with our Creator. We are built to exist in that life.
And we broke it.
So now, we live in this broken world with souls that were meant for a perfect world. We live in broken relationship with our Creator with souls that were meant for perfect relationship with Him. And it’s in this brokenness He sends the Holy Spirit. Not out of anger or disappointment, but out of undeserved love and compassion for our situation. And it’s His Holy Spirit that gives us the ability to have the potential of the fullest life God has for us while we are still in this broken place – in the “already, but not yet” (George Eldon Ladd). Our debt is already paid. We owe nothing. Jesus has conquered death. But we still live in this broken world that has not yet been restored into its fullness.
So we expectantly wait. And we love. And we fight for this not-yet-realized fullness that God has promised us. That is the power of the Holy Spirit. To fight for and make possible in this brokenness that which would be impossible without His intervention – His Kingdom come. His will be done ON EARTH, as is it in Heaven.
And, so, this is where He’s bringing me. He is gently correcting me. He is straightening my crookedness. He is teaching me what it means to live in the light of these truths.
I’d like to leave you with a song I wrote shortly after I sent the e-mail I keep quoting, which was the catalyst for this set of blog posts. Thanks for reading and sticking with me through all of this.
(The song was recorded on my computer, with no microphone, at 1:00am. Don’t judge me.)
I want to be enough, but I know I’m not supposed to be
I want to make it up to you, but there’s nothing to be made
The weighty guilt of my salvation, these heavy chains of freedom strain
The truth of who You are is twisted by my unclear vision of your love
But your Spirit has come… (He’s come)
You are not a tyrant, demanding what you don’t deserve
You deserve what we who broke ourselves, oh we want to, but cannot, give
In our self-imposed ineptitude, the Spirit made His descent (He descends)
Enabling us to glorify You in this already, but not yet (Not yet)
photo credit: gettyimages, Moment Open – Heather E. Binns