Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Kindness of the Lord

* this post is pure journaling. No well-crafted writing but rolling thought after thought. You've been warned! : )

This morning it's as though the waters divided and I've crossed the Jordan after two years of wandering in the desert. I awoke to the quiet-through-the-door sounds of Ken getting ready to leave at 4:37...a little earlier than I expected so I got up to see if something was wrong. Nope, just some early morning meeting he was off to. And for the first time in a couple years I was awake and clear and desperate to meet with God. See, who I've been created to be, how He's shaped me is with a passion for studying His word. I love the context, the original language, the stories, the parallels to everything in history and in my life ... I love God's word. And this is the first time in two years that I have recognized in myself the love and passion for meeting Him early in the morning to get to know Him better.

It's funny that it's exactly two years since I went "wandering." Two years ago Ken was preparing to deploy to Iraq. We were saying our goodbyes. Two years ago the push and passion of ministry in the church was reaching a pinnacle with a church-wide small group ministry and leadership training about to launch, and I was spearheading that. August 2008 found me stretched beyond what I could personally do, and my precious essential time with God dried up. I still haven't sorted through all the "why's" of the next year. "Why" I was walking past my desk to a number of to-do's when I physically ached to be with God. "Why" I just couldn't make myself sit down with Him. "Why" when I did nothing happened. "Why" I could stare at my bible, try reading plan after reading plan, and feel lost and not know what direction to pursue God in. The second year just followed the first and became the familiar. Desolate has been my soul these past two years.

If you had asked me, I would have said it would not have been possible for me to enter a season like this. If you had asked two years plus a month ago, that is. This Bible lover, Bible teacher, as friends have fondly called me (and I embrace this nickname readily) "you're a FREAK!" unable to sit contentedly in the presence of God. But as every season I have endured so far, I find myself extremely grateful to have a perspective about this wandering time that helps me extend grace to others, because I now know personally what it is to walk and still breathe at the same time in this desolation. Oh, understand that even in this dry place I have known the full assurance of the mercy and faithfulness and love of my Father. But to be an encourager by God's gifts and speak into others lives when my personal relationship with God seemed so shallow almost seemed fake or borrowed, like quoting someone else and not annotating it.

I've stated before that I'm a perfectionist. I guess some things keep coming around through this lifetime. I'm an approval seeker. Somehow my worth is tied to others approval. Two years ago I thought I was confident in Christ's approval alone. And yet these last two years, years without close friends to "do life with" and the emergence of Facebook and blogging, and I've recognized what an easy mark I can be for those sophomoric feelings of "do they like me?" For me, approval means not making relational mistakes, so I try to see and think ahead to meet everyone's expectations. Well, the question isn't if I am enough, but if Christ is. "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Cor 12:9 And I trust this.

Today's "I trust you" list in my journal (yep, I write in my journal before I blog)

I trust you to love me completely.
I trust you to transform me.
I trust you to meet me, reveal yourself to me, use me to bring honor and glory to Your name.
I trust you to free me from strongholds.
I trust you to equip and empower me to run a good race and to run it to completion.
I trust you to know my heart and to hear my petition and to receive the same one over and over again until I'm whole.

So today, my sweet Father, in the kindness of the Lord, brought me across the divide, out of the wilderness and stood me on solid ground that I recognize. He brought me back to Psalm 143. I finally get that I should add this to my list of scriptures that define my heart...add it to Galatians 2:20. And here it is for you. May you take courage and comfort in knowing we all live in the desert in our lifetimes. And probably on more than one occasion. And the sweetness of that dry place is in the deep knowledge of the love and faithfulness of the Lord who alone walks the desert with you, grows you there, and personally brings you home to the promised land. Live, and breathe, and walk in confidence with your God, no matter what season you are in. His favor is upon you.

"O LORD, hear my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and
come to my relief.
Do not bring your servant into
for no one living is righteous
before you.

The enemy pursues me,
he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in darkness
like those long dead.
So my spirit grows faint within me;
my heart within me is dismayed.

I remember the days of long ago;
I meditate on all your works
and consider what your hands have
I spread out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a
parched land.

Answer me quickly, O LORD;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
or I will be like those who go down
to the pit.
Let the morning bring me word of
your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
Rescue me from my enemies,
for I hide myself in you.
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.
For your name's sake, O LORD,
preserve my life;
in your righteousness, bring me
out of trouble.
In your unfailing love, silence my
destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant."

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