4:10 PM

The Hound of Heaven

He's after me. Not that He hasn't been for years, not that He hasn't already captured my heart. He so has. But He seems preoccupied with chasing me "further up and further in," as CS Lewis would say. Thought I'd share some of what He's been teaching me.

It's amazing because I know that He has been faithfully telling me the same things over and over again for YEARS through my parents and a few friends, through songs and hymns and stories and the occasional sermon. But recently - as in the past 72 hours - things have started clicking that I never had the slightest grasp on before.

Okay, enough delay.

My Lahtidah and I had an unbelievable conversation the other night that really changed my heart deeply. She showed me the comfortable mechanism I've been using to try to exert control over my life and future. Refering to Anne Lamott's book Traveling Mercies, this is what she said to me:
"...God always shines the spotlight in a spot ahead of us, and our job is to step into the light. then we wait and He shines a new spot for us... and the miraculous thing is that each time we are following blindly, but in the end we realize we ended up exactly where we are supposed to be. that, my friend, is what you need to go with right now. you're trying to see into the dark and wondering what happens in the third step from now if God moves you to the right and then half a turn to the left. "
I've known for years that I am paranoid and that the way I try to exert control in my life is information. It's knowledge. It's wanting to make the decision each day that I will have wanted to make in 3 months or 3 years or 30 years. And while that kind of conscientiousness has a place, for sure, it has no place at all when it warps into the monster it has become in my heart. I get to know ONE step, and even taking that one step is faith. I've been saying for a long time that God only asks of us that we be faithful with what we have been given today, but I now understand what maybe that looks like. I certainly know it better.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is how God is God in everything, and that He can use anything to make a point. A good example of this is the movie I saw with some friends last night, the End of the Spear. What struck me more than anything else about it was how monumental faith like Rachel Saint's and Elisabeth Elliot's was so beautiful and so holy. It was in line with who God is. To take your children and move into a village of people known for their brutality who had killed men you loved (a brother and a husband, respectively) because of the Gospel - that faith is deep and rich and wild and FREE. Yeah, it's free. It's what we were set free from sin FOR I really do believe - wild and dangerous life that skates on the edge of danger, but not for danger's sake. Those women were not interested in flirting with disaster, but in following Jesus. Their hearts had eyes for Him, and the rest of the world and their concerns paled in comparison to the richness of having Jesus and following after Him.

Anne made an excellent point about this kind of trust - that the worst thing that could happen to you is that you'd get to see Jesus. But you know what is amazing? The quality of that trust is not just for missionaries. It's something that I am called to. The quality of your trust doesn't change what God calls you to, be it working in a laundromat or taking a bullet for someone or nursing AIDS patients for your whole life. It just means you follow when He leads. I want that.

Post-End-of-the-Spear I of course had to bust out my copy of Jim Elliot's journals and start reading through them. This led to even more deep and profound understanding of the trust that God is teaching me about. Here's a few things I've pulled out:
"Christ, who emptied Himself, became preeminent over all." (p. 24) - this reflects God's 'backwards' economy; the first shall be last, the last shall be first; greater is He Who is in me (Who I cannot see) than He Who is in the world (who seems to be running the show).
"Joseph, the persecuted, is more fruitful than all." (p.25) - yikes. nuff said.

The biggie though brought to mind several conversations I've had with Kyle about seeds and crops and how though it's easier to eat the seeds we receive than to plant them and water and feed them and wait, it's completely missing the point. It also ties together alot of this stuff. Here's the Jim Elliot quote: "Bread: that which is prepared and ready to be of immediate use for my daily sustenance. [See, one step at a time.] Seed: that which must be sown that it may die and produce fruit. [Like his life.] Seed may speak to me of what God gives to me to be placed in another's heart [witnessing and ministry], or it may be that which I do not at first apprehend but is slowly made effectual in my life after some time having been sown." (p. 24) Growth takes time and requires depth (so that the seed is IN you) and death. That's scary. But it is rich. Oh I am so easily satisfied by shallow, vapid life. It is so much bigger and deeper and more wild and crazy and thrilling and full of abundance than I had ever dreamed.

With all that on my heart, of course I would walk into church this morning to hear a sermon on idols that realllllly hit hard. One of the idols Stuart mentioned was the ability to live in comfort and self-preservation. Good gosh. Isn't that what my fear of trust is all about?

Then there would be those choice song lyrics, like these:
"I'm living this life out of the ordinary; I'm opening wide for the extraordinary"
"Given, I've been given so much freedom; yeah, grace abounds and I'm the chief abuser"
"Like everyone else, you're scared of dying, but the power of death has been blown apart and you'll live forever..."

Christian, what is your only hope in life and in death?
That I am not my own, but belong, body and soul, in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to Him, Christ, by His Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for Him." - heidelburg catechism question #1


David said...

End of the Spear was awesome. As are Jim's journals.

That thing about the seeds sounds just like what Beth Moore talked about at Passion. Very good stuff.

God has been working on me too about being willing to follow his lead wherever, even if it means lack of comfort, safety, etc.

I enjoy reading your blog.