Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Waking Up

"Father - how easy it is to assume that
our faith is strong and healthy,
when in fact our faith lies dormant and our lives
remain unchallenged to believe you for great things.
Challenge my faith with a new sense of
what You want me to trust you for. Amen."

I found this prayer while reading over a month ago. I'm sorry to say I don't remember which book it was. I think it was by Amy Carmichael. No matter; it's in my Bible just the same, written on a yellow post-it note that is stuck to another post-it note, on which is written, "Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, SO WALK IN HIM!" Any guesses as to what the Lord's been teaching me since I've been at Bible school?

I really don't know how to articulate my state these days. The ups and downs are maddening, and I at a loss as to how I can step toward any sort of remedy. I'm really becoming aware that any and all change is God's doing, and most definitely nothing of my own. Still, emotionally I don't think I can handle the way I'm living much longer.

The struggle seems to be my difficulty opening up in vulnerability, with the Lord and those He's placed in my life. So much of the time I'm running running running to the next thing and the next thing and the thing after that. I'm exhausted, emotionally even more than physically, and that makes me avoid too much deep thinking for fear of experiencing mental fatigue. I feel very much like the cattle being prodded by the "goads" (as the old King James calls it), kicking and bleeding and getting angry and then frustrated, and most of all depressed.

In Hebrews class we've been learning about the church that the writer was addressing, how they desperately needed to move past the "elementary and foundational" teaching (the foundation of the Gospel which should prepare the believer for growth) and "go on to maturity!" I've been so convicted because I know that I am not reckoning the truth of all I am in Christ to be truly true. I still fall into this state of baby-faith, needing to hear again that Christ's death was sufficient, not only for my deliverance from the penalty of sin but for my deliverence from the power of sin in the here and now, TODAY.

"But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:1). This is the mystery I am reveling in: that even though my God's grace has already flowed over my life (however long that will be), it is no license to live in sin. And so I am caught between the Rock of Truth and the Arms of Grace; a difficult place to comprehend, but far from what we call a "hard place." It is simple, really. All I must do is trust and my experience will slowly begin to align with the truth of facts. For the basis of faith is indeed facts, though so often we believe with all we are that the basis of our faith is our feelings. I align my thinking with God's thinking; that is the "renewing of the mind" that God's Word speaks of. Only through the Bible can I come to know and trust Him more, by learning and clinging to the Truth of all He is and all I am in Him.

God is so gracious to teach me about Himself, day by day, challenging me to wake up my faith from the hibernation (hiding away from Him) that is unbelief. As we become intimate, the Father and me, His child, I love Him more and more. His love remains the same as it ever was and will be. Praise the Lamb!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I am learning.

Since August I have learned so much. But I am still learning. Most of all, I am being taught how disastrous a failure I am, though not through a teacher but through my own choices. And though my short comings have often left me hopeless up to this point in my life, I have slowly been recognizing that it is through the things in me which I despise so greatly that I grow to love Christ so much more, for being everything that I am not.

An obvious failure has been this blog. I have found that Bible college grants me much creative thought and then zaps my creative flow. I think it's partially because I'm learning so much every day about how God is and how I am, and it's overwhelming. I also think it's because I have homework pretty much every day. And Bible school homework isn't the same as typical academic homework. It's easier and harder at the same time. Easier because the topics are usually more capable of keeping my attention than algebra ever was. But also harder, because every historical narrative in the Bible is densely saturated with truth. The "school" in Bible school has been teaching me how to unpack Truth correctly, something I never knew could be so important.

Right now, I'm sitting on my bottom bunk, which is actually much higher than normal bunk beds, and I'm chewing Big Red. I never liked this gum growing up. I kind of have the mouth of a four-year-old. That little girl that hates all things spicy and all things vegetable? Yeah that's me. I don't even like soda (that was for all my non-northern friends). When I was a kid the carbonation "hurt" my mouth. So now I don't have the taste for it. And it was the same with all things cinnamon; I just couldn't handle the flame engulfing my taste buds.

And yet, here I sit enjoying a piece of stale Big Red, for which I fed the vending machine by the dining hall $0.30. And sometimes I even drink carbonated beverages these days. When there's nothing else to drink.

I've been thinking about the words of the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 13: "When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things."

I recently listened to a teacher reference this verse in a new light, and it brought me a tension that I'm still wrestling with. His challenge was short but profound. Essentially he posed a question to our class: "How are you doing with putting away the things of your childhood? Things like, the way you think, the way you respond, the way you spend your time?"

Now, I know there are a few things that I do not do anymore. Things that consumed hours of my life as a ten year old, or even a tenth-grader. But I've never even thought about the childish things that I do and think right now. And when I started thinking about it, there are so many things. An example would be how I respond to correction, and I'm talking thought response, not just outright actions.

It's been a few days now, and I'm at work for the day. Saturdays can be long sometimes, being here open to close. But today is calm, especially compared to Friday night since we have music and it's loud sometimes...particularly when the entertainment is bagpipes. I'm actually really enjoying the day. No doubt we'll have snow before this month is up, but right now I'm just taking in the glorious sun as much as possible. I walked to work this morning! On my way here I was just thinking about how good the Lord is, and to be honest my mind was too ADD to focus consistently for much more than ten steps. But what I did comprehend about Him thrilled my face off.

I was thinking about how Christ's sacrifice on the cross provided for a new kind of relationship between God and the people He created. Even though our sin has left us estranged and always running, running in search of anything that will make life worth being alive...even though our condition of depravity is steadily growing more and more wicked...even still, Christ's sacrifice was outside of time. He took on the full wrath of God for all time.

And this relationship I mentioned, it's special. It's a Father-son/Father-daughter relationship. For some, that's horrible news because, our dad's are sinners too, and they have not been good fathers. What does a good father look like anyway?? I'm learning that I cannot look to those co-depraved along side me for hope on this fallen earth. They will only fail me. They will inevitably disappoint me sooner or later.

But God, He's...different. SO different. I think that's the problem with the Christian faith here in the West. The existence of God is rejected because He doesn't fit the glove of common understanding. But I guess that's just a huge relief for me, because this world is screwed up. I'm at school in a town that is very disturbing at times. And I know that it's nothing compared to a million other places in the world.

So I guess I'm just so happy that God doesn't think the same way as me: childish. It's awesome to me that He gives narrative after narrative in the Old Testament revealing who He is and what He's like...as in, how He works with us. EVEN ME! In my sinful thought process and frustrated selfishness.

This blog has been added to slowly over the last couple of weeks, like a rough paper that's been marked in red several times over. And there's this other kind of draft outside these days. It whips through my undecidedly shoulder-length hair and then flies away in whatever direction. Isn't it strange to think that the air I breathe here in Michigan could at some point enter your lungs where you are?