Thursday, July 8, 2010

A New Grade

"Joy honors Me with her lips, but her heart is far from Me." (Matthew 15:8, Joy's personalized translation.)

Not exactly the words one wants to hear God speak. Convicting, yet not condemning. Words that have gripped my heart in recent weeks and provoked a deliberate time of soul-searching, hence my silence for over a month.

Words come easy to me. The writing of them is familiar. A pen is no stranger to my hand. It feels natural. Comfortable. Home. It's too easy to write what I know others want to hear, while hiding my heart.

Although many times I could have returned here over the past month, I have purposefully stayed away. It would have been easy to articulate the anticipated and echo the expected and no-one would have been the wiser, but I would have known the truth.

My heart began to detour as I was caught up in the gifts God was sending while ignoring the Giver. I began making poor choices. I have been a wanderer and a prodigal, not in the physical sense, but in my heart. I had strayed from my first Love.

A perfectionist, I give great attention to precise and proper words. Precise and proper living. There is a danger to perfection. It can be an enemy to authenticity. Legalistically I had been reviewing and evaluating my performance. Taking stock of where I was going spiritually. A good exercise to do occasionally, but my test results spoke of failure. Falling so far from the standard I had placed on myself absolutely overwhelmed me. Seeing my shortcomings and always aware of my inadequacies, my thoughts were again holding me prisoner to feelings of depression. I felt caught between that rock and hard place. It's been a time of inward reflection and contemplation. The view has not been pleasant. My heart has been laid completely bare. Secrets disclosed. Walls crashing. Freedom.

The Lord had to wean me from other dependencies. "The main danger of misplaced dependence is that it can border idolatry." (Streams in the Desert) Honestly friends, in the past I have sat by my computer for hours waiting for a message from a friend, but I was not waiting for the Lord with the same earnestness. God was saying to me, "Cease striving and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10 NASB)

I had been lingering some distance from God. I had fallen short in my responsibilities as I've allowed and chosen other things to interfere with my prayer life. "Christ becomes more real to those who persist in cultivating His presence." (Streams in the Desert) My intimacy with God was hindered by my preoccupation with other people and things.

Wholeheartedness opens the way for genuine intimacy. As I lay my heart at His feet, He reminded me that nothing I do, or fail to do, could ever separate me from His love. When guilt conspires, God gives grace.

Oh Lord, how I long for love and passion for You to consume me. The Lord responded to this plea and my desire to know Him, by bringing circumstances into my life where I must trust Him more.

God has called me to step out in faith, with hope, and rely completely on Him. In the weeks ahead there are mountains ahead of me, roads to travel, unknowns and uncertainties, but God has already graded my paper and told me this time I've passed. Victory was secured by my obedience. The outcome no longer is of any consequence. I'm already celebrating my "A" and praising Him for the deliverance already promised!

"I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." Genesis 28:15

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