Monday, May 18, 2009

Is simple always easy?

It's easy to trust the Lord when things are pleasant and nothing is complicated. It's easy to say that you trust in our good God when your bills are paid, your kids are healthy, your bank account is no where near empty and the only worry you have is what your neighbor really meant when she said, 'oh, well, um...I like your new haircut.'

This is where I lived for many years. Not the healthy kids part, but all the rest, for sure.
I just didn't know what hard was. I made up drama when I was bored (you know, 'why did Suzy look at me like that in church' and other such nonsense). I read my Bible when I thought people were looking or to get scripture that might come in handy in Bible study or conversations so I could look like a good Christian. I talked the good talk with all the 'good' Christian lingo, because I thought that's what being a Christian was all about. I just didn't know what it meant to believe God's word and trust in Him.

When things were hard, like losing my job and being unemployed for 8 months, I turned away from God because I was bitter and angry with Him for allowing such a hardship. I had no idea how to trust Him (not that I'm an expert now).
I lived in worry and anxiety, turning away from Him in petulance because I just didn't understand. I worried about money and finding another job. I was anxious about what we were supposed to do with our adult lives. No one told me being an adult was so hard!
I believed that worrying was a way to control the situation we were in. I thought I could worry my way out of it.

It's difficult to give up any sense of control you might (mistakenly) feel you have and lean on the Lord, and trust His sovereignty and goodness.

I am struggling pretty fiercely today. This comes as no surprise. I've been struggling with the same things for the past 18 has become commonplace, a very normal part of my life.

Recently, though, I have to admit that God has been revealing the sin in my struggling; and it isn't pretty.
It's hard to imagine struggling differently than I have been, but I think that's exactly what He desires in showing me my sin.

It started after reading Horatius Bonar and his book God's Way of Peace: A Book for the Anxious. I felt like I had stumbled upon something no one had ever told me before! Where had this truth been all my worried filled life??

Now are you sure that the truth which, you say you know, is the very gospel of the grace of God? Or is it only something like it? And may not the reason of your getting no peace from that which you believe, just be, because it contains none? You have got hold of many of the good things, but you have missed, perhaps, the one thing which made it a joyful sound? You believe perhaps the whole gospel, save the one thing which makes it good news to a sinner? You see the cross as bringing salvation very near; but not so absolutely close as to be in actual contact with you as you are; not so entirely close but that there is a little space, just a hand breadth or a hairbreath, to be made up by your own prayers, or efforts, or feelings? Everything, you say, is complete; but then, that want of feeling in myself! Ah, there it is! There is the little unfinished bit of Christ's work which you are trying to finish, or to persuade him by your prayers, to finish for you! That want of feeling is the little inch of distance which you have to get removed before the completeness of Christ's work is available for you!

It seems like Bonar is speaking directly to me. I have been trying and trying, struggling to get that peace, striving toward being someone and doing something that will make peace available to me, when it is already mine! Christ has finished it all and I have only to rest in His completed work. Rest in my salvation and believe.

You must begin at the beginning once more; and go back to the simplest elemsents of heavenly truth, which are wrapped up in the great facts that Jesus died and rose again; facts too little understood, nay, undervalued by many; facts to which the apostles attached such vast importance, and on which they laid so much stress; facts out of which the primitive believers, without the delay of weeks or months, extracted their peace and joy.

Faith is not something I can work at or get better at, but trusting is something I need to practice. And practice it, I have! Thus the post about sore muscles.
I don't want to misled anyone by saying that there are no longer bad days; because there are. The bad days are still bad, but they are filled with crying out to my Father; getting angry and repenting, feeling afraid and praying, relying on His promises, even if I can't see any proof of a promise.
No matter how 'strong in the faith' I become, I will always be weak, incapable, and in need of a Savior. But that is good news!

The consciousness of insensibility, like the sense of guilt, ought to be one of your reasons for trusting him the more, whereas you make it a reason for not trusting him at all. Would a child treat a father or mother thus? Would it make its bodily weakness a reason for distrusting parental love? Would it not feel that the weakness was thoroughly know to the parent, and was just the very thing that was drawing out more love and skill? A stronger child would need less care and tenderness. But the poor helpless palsied one would be of all the likeliest to be pitied and watched over. Deal thus with Christ; and make the hardness of heart an additional reason for trusting him, and for prizing his finished work.

The Gospel is not good news to those who want for nothing and believe themselves to be 'good' people. It is simply okay news.

The Gospel is life giving, wonderful news to those who know they simply cannot function without a Savior; and know that without His work on their behalf, they have nothing to offer our Heavenly Father.

This is where I am living now-
I simply cannot function without Him and I have absolutely nothing to offer Him. There is nothing I can do or think or feel that will bring me closer to God.
That's a pretty vulnerable place to be, isn't it? I am bought near to God through Christ's work; even my faith is a gift!
Ephesians 2: 8-9
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Even if trusting Him hurts (and life is hard, complicated and messy), I want to trust Him.

I want to trust Him in our messy lives, in the things that don't look like they'll ever get better or change. I want to trust Him, no matter the outcome, believing that He loves me; giving God all the glory.

The peace of God is already mine. It is just that simple...that's what makes it so hard.
Giving up our sense of power over our lives and letting go of the control we think we have is not an easy task; but it is so wonderful.

Ephesians 2: 1-10

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.


Chris said...

There are no words to express my gratitude to the Holy Spirit for 1. working this out in your life ( and my getting to be apart of your sweet, precious life) and 2. that He has gifted you to write so eloquently about it (encouraging so many others with this ability) and 3. that the Heis working out these truths in my life as well. I agree with you that it is soooo good.

Ashley said...

It is SO hard! I too am struggling, begging, searching God to help me make sense and I know the answer is right in front of me. HE is there if I/we can just meet Him where He is.

I never tire of looking at beautiful Owen's pictures. It is amazing how much he looks like his mama!

Praying for peace that only He can give,


Chris said...

Sweet Ebe,
I read this post again this morning. It really is the desire of my heart to grow in trusting our wonderful and loving Savior.
I think you should go back and read this post again too. It will be an encouragement to you to be reminded of what you already know. I love you and again, am so impressed with your writing.