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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Anonymous said...

Thank you for your transparency and honesty in this post. I'm not a regular reader of your blog, I ran across it several months ago and bookmarked it to look at later. I was just going through my bookmarks today and read you post from yesterday. This speaks to my heart so much! I haven been struggling with much the same thing lately. Isn't it wonderful we serve a God of abounding grace? His mercies are new each morning.

-A Christian Sister

Anonymous said...

I'm not exactly sure how I found your blog, but enjoyed it so I saved it to my favorites. I noticed you weren't updating it so I didn't check back until yesterday, which was random. It was such a word for me. Thank you! As the comment before said, thank you for being so transparent. We (Christians) hear that voice telling us the same thing, but so many times ignore it. I find myself putting things before God, even if just for a brief second. However, it takes my focus off Him. I too have a mountain of things ahead of me, but I have heard His still small voice tell me to TRUST ME. I know that He will make good out of the bad and He will do what gives Him glory. I must TRUST and WAIT. Thank you again sweet sister and I pray for your journey.

Tina M
Another Christian sister

Anonymous said...

Praise God. Your post goes so well with me from this morning.

Cindy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cindy said...

Bless you for your honesty! I needed that!

Anonymous said...

I am happy that a friend of mine on FB shared your blog site with me. I can so relate with you on so many things. God Bless You, Annette B.

Anonymous said...

HEllo, I understand the journey you are talking about. He has been speaking the same Scripture..."Be still and know that I am God." I feel like a two year old who's parent wants to hold them but they want to play...distracted by anything but sitting still...

Thank you for the reminder...I don't know how to sit still but am gonna ask "Daddy" to help me...because I NEED to know Him!

Time to return to my First Love...the One who first loved me.

Marilyn in Mississippi said...

Glad to read this post today Joy. I don't want this to I'm being critical but I've been concerned about you. I know ME and how easy it is for me to get off on a tangent. So glad that you are back. Have missed you! Always remember me in your prayers. I have so much improvements that need to be made in my own spiritual life.

God bless,

Cheri Bunch said...

Dear Joy,
You have been on quite a journey! I feel like you have been through a season of testing ... and you have made it through! I am very proud of you, girl! I am expecting awesome things for you!
Many blessings,

On Purpose said...

You make me want to be more like our Jesus!

Carolyn said...

Thank you, Joy. I needed to read that. :)

Kimberly said...

Hi, Joy!
I have still been so enjoying your quotes that pop up on Proverbs 31 Facebook updates. :) You write so beautifully and with such a heart for the Father.

But I do understand why you had to pull away from your blog for a while. And I so understand the whole being ultra hard on yourself. And, yes mam, I myself have been guilty of waiting at my computer for an e-mail from a friend but not waiting as eagerly for the Lord. I will be taking Ps.46:10 with me today, and this quote..."Christ becomes more real to those who persist in cultivating His presence." (Streams in the Desert) Such good encouragement!

And I love how the Lord has already graded your paper. :) How He has already given you an A for your obedience! I needed that as I am still trying to get myself ready for She Speaks.

Thanks, Joy!
K :)

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

I've been there in recent days as well... a place of having to make some hard choices regarding my faith and how I will proceed... with Jesus. I've lost my focus, but as I wrote in my post, a good faith recognized the discrepancies early on and then acts upon the "right thing to do" even though the feelings lag behind.

Love you friend, and am here to help if I can.


~Grace and Peace said...

I have missed your posts and was glad to see the update. I echo the post of "A Christian Sister." So glad that God met you where you were. I was visiting another blog (heart to heart with Holley) and she had this quote in the end:

"You are enough in Him

because He is enough in you."

And your mention of the looming mountain reminded me of Max Lucado's twitter the other day:

"Don't measure the size of the mountain; talk to the One who can move it."

Be blessed and refreshed, dear sister. May God fill you anew with His Holy Presence and may you feel it all around you today and in the days to come.