In fall the aspens' tiny leaves turn an unbelievably brilliant yellow, fluttering like a thousand little coins. Stripes of gold and orange flash by the window as you drive. Splotches of yellow splashed across the sides of mountains, making the mountainside look like it’s on fire. I've always loved the changing of seasons; the shift in temperature signaling that something new is coming.
In a way that I can only attribute to the power and sanctifying work of the Spirit, my faith has become less blind understanding, less knowledge of seminary-ingrained truths, and more real, concrete, deeply-rooted-in-my-soul knowledge of God.
Maybe it’s the season I’m in now, but life feels especially uncomfortable lately. As much as I try to fight for joy, discontentment seems to continually rear its ugly head in my heart. It feels like the things I am praying and striving for most, God has chosen to keep just out of reach...
We are scared of failing. Scared of imperfection and - moreso - of letting people see the ways we don't quite meet the standards we've set for ourselves. But, you see...in the most beautiful way, imperfection is an invitation.
In our success and image-driven culture, we feel the pull to keep doing, because what we do is what we will be known for, right? Working hard is what will make us happy and successful, right? That is what will finally give us the peace we have been craving, right?
Right?.... Maybe not...
I'm realizing that gratitude starts with a small shift of the mind. It starts with a shift towards noticing. It starts with clearing out space in your mind and in your schedule for slowness and stillness.
It starts with seeing, really seeing, and recognizing the gifts around you for what they are.
Yes it's freeing to be "out of context." But as scary as it is to press into relationships... It's also a truly beautiful thing to be known.
How do you articulate to fellow believers, to people who look to you as a "strong Christian woman," that only weeks ago you sat on your bathroom floor, barely able to breathe except to utter the words to God or whoever might be listening, "why don't you love me?"
Sometimes it's hard to set apart time to be in the Word. Sometimes even when you set aside the time to be in the Word, it's hard to focus [or to stay awake] or to even understand what you're reading.
So what do you do?
Sometimes it is so hard to follow and love You in the midst of a broken world and a broken me.
Sometimes I think life would be easier if I didn’t have to feel the pain of a world and people without You.
Sometimes I think life would be easier if I didn't realize the extent of my own sin.
What could be more encouraging than to know that apart from Christ we are literally nothing? The things we are striving for and hustling for will ultimately fade away like a mist and nothing will remain but the eternal Kingdom of God. Praise the Lord!
Last week I wrote a blog on sexual sin. In that post I highlighted the depth of God's grace. Grace that meets us even in our deepest sin.
At the same time (and by that I mean while holding on to that understanding of the grace and goodness and mercy of God) we must also actively pursue repentance with every ounce of our being.
So what does it meant to repent?
The Lord is good and gracious in everything that He does, including the times when He walks us through seasons of deep suffering. We can see His goodness and grace even in the deep suffering because it leads us to trust Him and know Him more. It serves to shape us more into the image of God. It helps us to see the temporary nature of the world and the lasting satisfaction found in God.
I know this is a topic that we don't really talk about. It's a topic that I, even though I have been a regular church-goer for all 26 years of my life, didn't hear mentioned in the church even once until a few years ago. It seems that in most churches, sexual sin is considered one of the "darker" or "worse" sins, so we don't talk about it, we keep it in the dark.
But I'm going to talk about it here because I believe that Satan works in the darkness.
Why do the righteous suffer? Is all suffering for the sake of God? How do we reconcile the fact that God is good and God is sovereign with the fact that there is evil in the world? Does God somehow ordain evil and suffering? Why do the plans of the wicked prosper?