As the Lady Éowyn learned to abandon pride and instead follow her love, Faramir, she became used to build and nurture instead of destroy. Here I devote myself to all that grows us in strength, joy, clear thinking and godliness.
Monday, June 14, 2010
My Struggle These Days
I had a dream about a month ago that I was dying. I remember being most concerned about my grandfather, who is not a believer, and wanting to share the Gospel with him explicitly one more time before I died. In my dream I was trying to tell him about the Savior, and his need for Him... and all of a sudden I began to think about my own soul- life the past several months, and the icy cold of doubt entered my heart. "Am I a believer? I sure haven't been living like one. There's been such empty routine in my heart; such anger towards the Lord and so little joyful obedience." Always before I'd been so sure of my salvation because of the love I've had for Him, deep down-- not of myself at all. Not so in my dream. With my own death approaching, where was the dying grace I'd always prayed for, always expected? "If I'm not a believer, I know the answer is to repent... but you can't run to Jesus just to avoid punishment; He doesn't want to be used; He isn't the means to an end-- He IS the End, and if He isn't, He isn't truly being worshiped. He will not be used as currency for the purchase of idols." And so on until I woke up. The questions, the doubts of my own salvation even, remained.
All the way through this, I've still wanted to encourage others; to be a good friend that points others to Christ; to tell everyone around me of the Joy of Knowing Him. But the past few months I've felt only bitterness, and so have kept quiet, afraid of spewing the bile of my soul on everyone if I be honest, or of ringing fake if I speak of Christ. Even as I've taught children's Sunday School, my preschool class, and shared the Gospel with my neighbors and lost friends, it's been saying truth that I KNOW is true, yet struggling to say it when my heart doesn't "feel" it. How can I encourage others to know Him when I've been so far from Him and His Word myself?
The Lord's shown me that there's been slow anger boiling in my heart, simmering away; a root of bitterness. The anger's been mainly towards the Lord, for asking for yet more obedience (as always), when my past obedience has seemingly been "rewarded" with hardship. As if He owed me. "Why should I obey you more, Master, when You aren't giving me what I want, despite my best obedience? That's not how I want it to work!! Look, these many years I've served You and I never disobeyed Your command, yet You never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends!" (Luke 15:29) The heart of the Older Brother is in mine-- the heart that stayed "near" the Father outwardly for all those years, yet derived no joy from his Father's nearness. "His commands are not burdensome" "If you LOVE Me, you will obey what I command." Hmmm.
It has been several months of hard, angry struggling in my soul over here... someone at church asked me how I was yesterday, and I smiled, all dressed up for church as I was, with my beautiful baby on my hip, and beamed "doing really well!" It took a bit for me to realize that my automatic answer was a total lie. All is NOT well in my soul. I mean, I know that my salvation is secure and my Eternal Happiness will be worked out, but I haven't been experientially aware of that reality at all lately. An honest, open-heart email --written about 2 weeks ago-- to a friend captures this, so I'll cut and paste it in here... please pray for me.
"... we made it home safely last night, and found our garden was NOT eaten by varmits!!! Those coffee grounds I threw out there our last night home seemed to do the trick! Now... will they keep the vermin at bay? I really want some fruit for all my labor! At least we should get peppers and tomatoes; never have managed to kill those yet. Speaking of gardening, I really want to go out there and plant some stuff while E's asleep. She's usually a handful outside-- wanting to eat EVERY blade of grass and type of leaf (gross, I know)-- but today she is Queen Super Crank. I've been looking forward to nap-time ever since she got up from her last one, how sad is that?! So maybe after I send this to you I'll run out there, plant and re-pot and then run back in here and work on my sewing projects. What other chores am I supposed to do today? I feel like once I hit a rhythm for chores and schedule I'll feel less overwhelmed... otherwise my brain spins a billion miles an hour. I made this chore chart and I have a planner... from my SWI class... should probably use it...
"Band-aid for a bullet wound..." that sounds so familiar-- is it a Switchfoot lyric? You saying that made me look at myself and think a bit. I realized that my first impulse is always to "fix it" and get back in the game. You know, like in volleyball; you dive, eat the floor, then you shake it off and do what you need to to get back up and dive again. If I'm not being a good wife, I need to read a book about it, figure out my problem, fix it, and get in there and be a better wife. If I'm not sure how to handle my daughter, I just need to read a book on it and I'm sure I'll get it under control. Crazy house? Give me a book, a pencil and paper, and I'll have The Perfect Schedule in no time. I know I can handle everything and anything, if I just have a little guidance, time and somewhere to jot down all my Marvelous Ideas. Savior? Who needs that? Externally powered inner strength? Why would I ask for that when all I need is a little help. I got this, you know? I got this.
There's an old hymn that says "lay all your deadly doing down/ down at Jesus' feet." I think I need to meditate on that again. I'm trying to pray and read Scripture and hold my inadequacy up with both hands and beg the Lord to Fill it. Not with a schedule or a to-do list or a how-to book, but with Himself. "He is the Treasure to be found in all that hurts us" (Ben Patterson, Waiting)."
In the book Mimosa (Amy Carmichael), the poor, oppressed and amazingly kept heroine knows next to nothing about her Savior-- only that He loves her and knows her name, and that He is different from all the idols of India. Yet she loved him, clung to Him and Him alone, and prayed to Him as one dependant on His provision. She would spread her sari before God, empty, and hold it out to Him when she had nothing at all to feed her children, and she'd ask Him for rice-- that's what she called prayer: "holding out my sari to Him." She came to Him empty, holding out her emptiness for Him to fill, utterly sure that He would do it, and seeing Him answer faithfully time and time again. In that sense, her very inadequacy, her very emptiness was almost an offering.
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken spirit and a contrite heart. These, o God, You will not despise."
Praying that I will learn to "hold out my sari" to HIm... "nothing in my hands I bring/ simply to Thy cross I cling."