Monday, February 23, 2015

Enough Already!

Do you ever get weary of this character building, you know, trials God brings into our lives to move us beyond childishness and into maturity?  Or maybe someone has said to you, "This hard time you are going through is so that you can help others going through similar circumstances."   Do you ever shout out, "Enough already!  I'm tired of going through all this trouble so I can empathize with someone else!"

Just this morning I read, "His faithful love endures forever," not once . . . but twenty six times. (Psa. 136)  By the end of the chapter the words seem rote and calloused.  I'm thinking, why do they keep saying this?  Then it became clear.

This love of God will not let me go!  It is enduring to the point that He refuses to let me remain as I am.  He loves so deeply that He continually brings challenge into my life to build me into the image of His Son, Jesus.  I might kick and scream against it, but His love is persistent and oh so patient.  And I am amazed!  How can God be that interested in my life, that He will take the time and the effort, yes, even the risk, to confront my immaturity?  Love like that is rare!   

Coming down from a retreat is hard and I've been having difficulties keeping my emotions in check.  They seek to control my life, to sway truth into making exceptions, until I start feeling entitled to rest, entitled to envy, entitled to complaints.  The more I nurture these emotions, the more they reign in my heart resulting in self-pity, sulking, and procrastination.  This is not the way I was meant to live.  

There are so many nice people out there, but I'm not one of them.  Oh, don't get me wrong.  I can put on a good front and pretend, but I know my heart and it is far from reaching that good standard.   Before long all this yuck oozes out.  I'm ashamed of my own self and wonder how I could be so childish.   

Yet, nice can be overrated.  My daughter recently told me, "Nice is just doing what pleases people.  If you do whatever others want, before long they will be calling you nice."  It opened my eyes to see that nice is not all its cracked up to be.  In fact, it can actually be a bondage. 

And so my goal is not to please people, but to honor the Lord with what is deeply embedded in my heart.  I want a purity within so that what I think, what I say, and what I do will always flow pure.  So often I think that holiness is for God's benefit, not my own.  But when I live in misery it causes me to realize that right living is really for my own well-being.

I've learned one solution to overcoming my emotions, that is, to simply do the next thing.  The depression, the yielding to my feelings, can be a form of procrastination away from where my energies should be spent.  If I keep my focus on what I am to be about, my Father's business, no time is left for unhealthy musings.   I'm not saying there are easy solutions, just that there can be answers.  There is joy to be found as I surrender to God's terms for my life.

Yes, the proof of God's Spirit within me is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  (Gal. 5:22-23) These qualities should be evident because I have given my life to Jesus.  But in order for Him to truly shine through me, I have to align my will with His, keeping in step with His Spirit.  Only then do I become a luminary that shines clear with a pure heart.

"Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life."
 Prov. 4:23

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