Monday, February 27, 2012

A Union With Consequences

My struggle with darkness, pain and meaninglessness seems to ebb and flow these days, often triggered or brought to the surface by people or events, but sometimes unprovoked. The last 4-5 days I have felt more of it than in a while. It usually happens this way: I’m thinking about Jesus, my life, or trying to connect to others and suddenly I feel overwhelmed by an intense pointlessness to my life, and a despair that it will ever change.

This morning as I was in this “pointless place” in my quiet time (can’t we find a better term??) I felt the Spirit whisper, “you are united with Christ.” I know it had to be the Spirit because it was so foreign to the organic flow of my own thoughts, which is often how I experience God’s voice. As I reflected on this, I realized that being united with Christ means (among other things) that the emptiness, the seemingly meaningless pain that I so often feel can find a home within my union with him.

I immediately remembered a dynamic I experience with my immediate family. No matter how bad I feel, how pointless my life seems, I can (usually) come home and be present to my wife and children in very basic ways. I have long given up on being “intentional” or “missional” in my home and in my marriage, simply because I lack the strength to even start. But, what I can do I try to do: hold my kids, allow myself to love and be loved by them. What a precious gift! In this gift I see what the Spirit is saying to me – that it is possible for my “meaningless life,” all my darkness and pain to be eclipsed by the love that I share with my wife and kids. I am united with them in that moment, in mutual love (not that there aren’t times when loving each other isn’t a difficult choice – I’m just speaking generally). In this picture I see what the Spirit is whispering – that if there is a refuge of love with my family, how much more with Jesus.

Speaking in ultimate terms, I can’t take my pain and darkness to my wife and kids (or any other human) and be healed, filled or at peace. Only with Jesus is there a safe place for my pain, only with him is my empty pain really, truly and consistently eclipsed by infinite love and compassion. With other people, my pain can easily eclipse and dominate the relationship and wreck it – with Jesus that’s not possible!

So, following the Spirit’s lead, I remind myself today that I am united with Christ; his fullness is more than enough for my emptiness, his healing touch more than enough for my pain and strong feelings of rejection and abandonment. Even more, he actually bears my pain, carries my sorrows in a way that is redemptive and glorifying.

I can’t wreck Him, but his love wrecks me.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Songs Heard Through the Fog

On my walk this morning it was dark and foggy. Recent weeks have battered me to a point of exhaustion and sadness, so I started walking with a desire to connect with God in a new way. I am desperate these days to hear from God, to see his face, but to be honest most of the time I vacillate between lethargic boredom and compulsive escape and grasping. I long for consistent passion, where I move intentionally into life and relationships with hope and purpose born out of what Dallas Willard calls an “experience based confidence in the love of God.” Most of the time I just stare at the walls and eat another twinkie. Lord, have mercy.

As I walked through the dense mist, I could hear birds singing above and beyond me. At first it seemed odd. I couldn’t see any birds, only 10-20 feet around and above me. The contrast I was sensing was very stark – though it was very dark and misty where I was, it was if the birdsong was above and untouched by the fog. It cut through it and reminded me that though I walk through the “dark valley of the shadow of death,” there remains a reason to sing, a reason that is “alien” to me, up and above me.

The birds ministered to me this morning as I walked through the fog. The Son will eventually cut through the fog; as I wait, he meets me in the midst of the soupy confusion with his mercy and grace. That’s what the birds were singing about, and I can only hope that one day I will join them with an even greater gusto. Thanks, Jesus, for meeting with me in the fog, and sending your birds as messengers of grace.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Things to Remember (Revised 2.3.12)

Needed to pour over this again today. This list will continue to grow, God willing, as I learn to fight, learn to surrender. Hope it is a blessing to others too.

  • My feelings of rejection and abandonment will be provoked today - It’s just a matter of when and how. What I do when they are provoked will determine what kind of person I become. It also reveals what I am trusting in.
  • When I feel afraid and alone, I remain in the Father’s arms. Nothing can separate me from his love. God is infinitely and forever on my side.
  • God is allowing these things to come to the surface so that He can heal me. There is a reservoir of pain inside, and with each activation the potential exists to receive healing and see that pool drain a little.
  • What you most want is to be loved, and to feel safe. Let God know what you want. Trust him to provide what you need.
  • Trust is difficult for you, and the Father knows this; have patience with yourself. His grace is endless.
  • Treat yourself as you would a hurting friend (esp. your created self, which is held prisoner by the old self). Take time to give gentle counsel from the new self.
  • You will fail. Have compassion on yourself and try again. Don’t give up, because your Father is faithful, patient and infinitely tender. God expects more failure from you than you do.
  • Running to food or lust only makes things worse, adds to the reservoir of pain. But, when you give in to them, don’t despair. God is waiting to forgive you. Come home.
  • God loves you as you are, not as you should be, because no one is as they should be (B.Manning).
  • God sometimes reserves his darkest nights for his dearest children, his tenacious ones.
  • You are dead to sin and to all expressions of your old/false selves. You are a new creation in Christ, the Beloved. You have the freedom and power to access this new self (2 Tim 1:7). You are seated in the heavenly places, a king-warrior seated beside your Father.
  • Your sufferings are carried by and find their home in the sufferings of Jesus. As deep as your wounds are, his are deeper. One of the biggest lies is that Jesus doesn’t know your pain and/or doesn’t care. This lie must be resisted with all your might!
  • No amount of praise from others is able to fill the emptiness in your soul.
  • There is no security in health or wealth. Surrender them often.
  • You have an enemy who seeks your destruction; but you abide in your elder brother Jesus who has already defeated him! Be strong!
  • Remember the four “G’s” from Tim Chester, You Can Change:
    • God is GREAT, so I don’t have to be in control.
    • God is GLORIOUS, so I don’t have to be afraid of what others think and say.
    • God is GOOD, so I don’t have to look elsewhere to find life.
    • God is GRACIOUS, so I don’t have to prove myself.