Saturday, August 14, 2010

God never ceases to amaze me

I had a really amazing and surreal moment this morning that I wanted to blog about. I am not sure this will even make sense to anyone reading it, but I have to get over letting what people may or may not think about my writing influence my posts. I need to be faithful to write what is on my heart, and trust that God will do whatever he wants with it.

I was riding my bike this morning and listening to a Matt Chandler sermon as has become my habit when I ride. I actually haven't ridden in about 3 weeks and I actually enjoyed the ride tremendously. I have been listening to a really old sermon series from 2006 called Beyond the Sun: A study of Ecclesiastes. I am really enjoying it. It is helping me to really get some perspective on life and try to live as God would have me live which is really actually the point in all sermons. The premise of the series is that everything under the sun is meaningless. Everything we do and seek after is empty, a chasing after the wind. That is unless we get beyond the sun. If we can get the real point and live the lives we have been given in light of the Cross of Christ and what it means. When we can see everything in the framework of the cross then hard times are easier to deal with, we can enjoy what we are given b/c they are gifts and not the point and end to it all, we can make choices more based on what God wants not what we want or what the world system says we should want.

So as I rode, I was listening to sermon about the middle of the series and I remembered the sermon so I looked at the date on the podcast. We were attending the Village when this series was being preached and I was in the service when he preached it. The moment came when I realized this is one of last sermons we heard before we left the village. As a matter of fact, I am 90% sure that this is the last sermon we heard him preach before we left. He was addressing Eccl 7:6 "For like the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool. This is also vanity. " He was talking about how pride is the most destructive force in the universe. In pride we look at ourselves on fire and laugh and pretend like we are not burning up. The church runs around wreaking of smoke and pretending like everything is okay. Marriages fall apart b/c instead of screaming help we are on fire as things get bad, we hide it and laugh and pretend like everything is okay. We struggle with debilitating sin, addictions or wounds that cause us to hemorrhage the life out of ourselves, but instead of screaming HELP!! I am on fire and burning to death, we put on a face and pretend all is well partially b/c we assume we must be the only ones who are on fire and so we can't open up and ask for help. The "church" instead of being a burn unit, like it was originally, where fire is put out, bandages are applied and healing happens, has become a place where we are all completely deformed by the fires we are hiding. We aren't real and we can't help the people who don't know God and are on fire b/c we won't be honest about our fire and get help. Marriages don't fall apart over night; they fall apart as two take one step at time away from each other and refuse to acknowledge the reality that things are not going well and that the marriage desperately needs help. We don't get trapped in deep sin or addiction over night, we slowly choose to give more control to whatever, and the more we hide it the tighter the grip it has on us becomes.

The reason this was so striking to me was the place we were at back then and what we would walk through over the 2 years after we left the Village. We really were on fire. We went through a really, really dark period in our lives and in our marriage after we left the Village. Things got very dark and very desert like. I do believe that God brought us to the desert to pound some things out in us (especially in me), to get rid of some religious baggage I was still carrying and to reveal some really bad stuff buried in the basement of my soul. It was a necessary part of my walk and I am grateful for it. Anyone watching from the outside would have seen us as "back slidden" and I guess in a sense that was true, but I was also still totally in love with God and crying out to Him daily. We were kind of smoking (figuratively speaking) when we left, but we would erupt into full blown flames shortly after. Over those two or three years after leaving, I really got kind of lost. I got lost in the world of makeup and hair; I got lost in pursuing "success", "money", "things". I became completely consumed with becoming "something" so I could prove I was worth something. Larry and I went through about a year and half or 2 years that we pretty much just coexisted in the same house. We were cold and not really happy. We didn't talk about divorce or anything like that, but my heart was very far from him. It is probably only God's grace that I didn't have an affair, b/c I think I was dangerously capable at that point. I would begin to really battle alcoholism at the latter part of that couple years. I loved God, but I did not love His church. I had become so disillusioned. Part of that may have been things people did, but the bigger part of that was that I felt completely isolated and alone b/c I was hiding so much of myself. I was trying to be the person I had forced and molded myself to be instead of letting God define me, tell me who I was and allow me to embrace the me He intended when He created me. I was so protected internally and so with drawn emotionally from everyone. I did not know how to have a truly open, not dispensable relationship. So my disillusionment had more to do me hiding and feeling totally disconnected than it had to do with anything Christians did. We would go through a long season of being even more isolated, having friends that did not have the moral or spiritual beliefs we did, being so so dry. As I said, it was such a good season for us. It was difficult, but when I did come back around to knowing that we really needed to be in a church where we were accountable, being taught and trying to build authentic relationships, I came back a different person. So much of the really religious, somewhat legalistic, proud, and self righteous ideas had been stripped away. I reached the place where I didn't want to hide anymore. I wanted to lay out the truth of who I was and what I struggle with on the table knowing that the one's who couldn't take it weren't true friends and the one's that chose to be in relationship with me anyway were the kind of friends God wanted me to have. So actually, the fire was good for us. It was purging; it was destructive only to those things that were corruptible, but it worked an eternal weight of glory, it left the true faith purified by fire that God wants us to have. God led us into the desert and let the smoldering sinfulness of our flesh erupt into purgatory flames of purification. We came out of that desert place ready to move forward with less baggage, less secrets, and a desire to do whatever was necessary to go where God was calling us so we could do the works He prepared beforehand for us to do.

It was just such a surreal experience to hear that message 4 years later almost exactly and look back at where we walked soon after and where we are now. I had no idea sitting in that church what was in store for us over the next few years. I also had no hope or inkling that I could be as healed and free as I am at this point in my life. I know that He is no where near finished with me either. I will look back in 2 years and think boy I thought I was healed back then, look at where I am now. I feel like my whole walk has been such an amazing and wonderful adventure. It has been such a beautiful picture of His grace and redemption. Parts of me that I despaired could ever be whole are so beautifully restored. God is a great and amazing God. He has been so so so good to me. I could never enumerate or even realize how great His grace has been to me and how much he has done in my life. I have no idea how many times He snatched me from death's grip b/c He wasn't through with me. If I were to praise and thank Him every minute of every day for the rest of my life it would not be enough. He is so great and His grace so so much greater than we can comprehend. To know that He chooses to let me be a part of His plan and see how blessed I am, is so overwhelming to me. He is good!!! I stand in awe of the fact the He made me exactly how He wanted me to be and that I have arrived at a place in my life that I like me and appreciate who I am in Him is awesome to me.

1 comment:

  1. Deborah Ingersoll, The NannyAugust 15, 2010 at 6:40 AM

    Really incredible post. Strange to take that trip back there and remember how worried I was about you. Real faith reminder for me. God has been so faithful to our family.