Sunday, August 19, 2012

Wait: A Recurring Theme

I never - ever - share what I write in my journal... with anyone. The contents of it are my heart, as I pour it out before the Lord - my Rock, my Redeemer, my Father, and my Friend. He is my safe place, my place of refuge, and so what I share with Him are the pure contents of my heart. However, something that I recently wrote in my journal explains perfectly how I feel right now and what God has been teaching me through it, so I am going to share it here:

"I can hardly believe my life; honestly, I am always in transition... Whenever I get settled, You move me again. I see the purpose and the wisdom in that, for if I were to get comfortable in any place, I may get complacent. And I realize the dangers in that (complacency), especially as You have called me into full-time ministry. My flesh yearns for settlement and comfort, but I know You are pulling my spirit to higher places ~ places of Your calling and will in my life. Give me continued grace to accept that, I pray."

If my life had one theme word, it would probably be "wait." I think many of us who are following the Lord and desiring to obey Him would attest to this. I have many desires in this heart of mine, but to many of them the Lord continues to say, "Wait."

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." -Psalm 27:14

The reason that my life is this one big transition is because I am waiting on the Lord - actively waiting... pursuing His best, following His lead, doing what I can to do my part within His will for my life. This does not mean that I am perfect; I say with Paul, "Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).

To wait on the Lord does not mean to sit back, relax, and stare into space until the Lord shows you what it is you are to do next. To wait on the Lord means to actively pursue Him and His purposes, actively following Him as He shows you the next step, using your God-given wisdom to make informed and wise decisions. This is why I can say that the reason that my life is this one big transition is because I am waiting on the Lord.

Why? Why do I wait on the Lord instead of pursuing my own pleasures and desires and hopes and dreams? I realize that human logic, determination, and lots of hard work can get a lot of things done. I have tried, many times, to accomplish many things in my own strength - and, oftentimes, have accomplished them; exhausted and burnt-out, yes, but productive. So why do I wait instead of relying on my own flesh to do what I want to do?


That is it - love. My love for the Lord and His love for me. For, "In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome..." (1 John 5:3)

Love. His love for me overwhelms me and my love for Him is why I follow, why I pursue Him, why I wait. Looking back on my life and seeing how the Lord has so perfectly designed my life (full of its heartaches, changes, transitions, and joys), I rejoice. I have seen how the Lord has so graciously designed my life and given me even more than I ever would have chosen for myself had I decided to do things my way instead of waiting on the Lord... And so I won't turn back.

The cross before me, this world behind me...

A few specific things you can be praying for me for as I leave for another year at Moody Bible Institute:
*That I will find a job that will not only provide for my room-and-board, but will work with my crazy class schedule
*That the Lord will prepare my heart and work through me as I become (and am trained to become) a coach for some of the women's small group leaders
*That the Lord will keep this heart of mine humble, teachable, useable, and flexible

Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Thank You, thank You, thank You for being my safe place - my place of refuge. Thank You for always knowing what is best for my life, even if that means that I must wait for it. Thank You for being my Rock - holding me fast - throughout all of these transitions and changes in my life. Thank You for being my Joy - making my life joyful, oh so abundantly joyful and full of peace and love and hope. Keep this heart of mine humble, teachable, useable, and flexible. Amen.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Free Indeed

Always striving... Always placing one heavy foot in front of another, seemingly running in place and never getting anywhere. The bar of perfection seems to always be ahead of me; it seems with every step I take, it moves forward two. The standard of holiness seems to always be above me; with every vain move I make to reach it, it moves higher another mile.

Always striving... and never reaching. Always running... but never moving. Always trying to please others' standards, others' expectations, others' rules... and never being quite enough.

Always striving... and always failing. Burnt-out and exhausted, I fall to the Throne of Grace where I hear these refreshing words in my ears:

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ..." (Romans 5:1)

Justified. This means that even in my sinful state, the Lord has declared me as righteous in His sight. That means that I have peace with God. Peace.

The truth of these words goes in my ears and into my mind and begins to penetrate my heart as I look up to my Savior and hear these words spoken:

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36)

I am free. I am free indeed.

The God of the universe chose to send His perfect, sinless Son to earth to live and die for us so that we could be set free. He died for our freedom. It is for this very reason that I wonder why so many of us live as if we are still in bondage when the Son has died to set us free?

Bondage to others' expectations. Bondage to religious rules. Bondage to a list of "dos" and "don'ts." Bondage to a cycle of sin, confession, and sin because we do not know the true freedom that we have in Christ.

But the Son has set us free! "For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace." (Romans 6:14, emphasis mine)

We are no longer under a yoke of slavery if the Son has set us free. We are no longer "under the law" because we are now "under grace." We are not to live lives of legalism, of strict adherence to a certain law or a certain person's or group of people's list of rules that are most often merely preferences for living, for the Son has set us free from bondage and a yoke of slavery. Let us instead be servants of Christ, for:

"Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ" (Galatians 1:10).

As a seminary professor so aptly put it in 1963, "Legalism wrenches the joy of the Lord from the Christian believer, and with the joy of the Lord goes his power for vital worship and vibrant service. Nothing is left but cramped, somber, dull, and listless profession. The truth is betrayed, and the glorious name of the Lord becomes a synonym for a gloomy kill-joy. The Christian under law is a miserable parody of the real thing." -S. Lewis Johnson

God is not a kill-joy. The Creator of joy and of all things good is not the one who desires to steal joy and all good things from us. No, there is another One who holds that desire, and that is our Enemy: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy..." (John 10:10a)

But, contrary to popular belief, God has "come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10b).

May we stop our vain strivings, our treadmill runs to nowhere, and our joyless pursuit of perfection and instead fall at the Throne of Grace where Christ lifts up our weary souls and penetrates our hearts with these refreshing words, "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36).

Free indeed. Oh, how my heart sings with the lighthearted realization that I am free, no longer held in bondage to others' expectations or to the law... but free to live life as the woman that Christ has created me to be, loving Him and obeying Him and living to please Him only.

Freedom. Infinite Joy. Peace. Life to the fullest. This is the life that I live because the Son has set me free - and I am free indeed.