I’ve wrestled with whether or not to share my heart here in this little white box, but the truth is that no matter where I am, I’m me. Real and imperfect, so you’re about to see a tiny glimpse of my heart. I meant to share it last Thursday, so right now I’m not sitting in seat 14a, but just imagine that’s where I am ok? ;)
Hi, you. Yes you. You might be the one currently walking down the street just holding your android trying to keep yourself occupied before the next busy thing comes your way. You might be sitting in the waiting room of an office for your next appointment, or perhaps you’re the mom who just got your baby down for a nap and have a solid twenty (maybe) minutes of silence before the unavoidable 5pm rolls around and the “mom, what’s for dinner!?” begins and the chaos ensues. Or maybe, maybe you’re the one who is wandering. Like, wandering in the sense that you’re thinking to yourself, “Well I remember clicking on that link, then that one, and ooooooh, maybe that’s how I stumbled on this blog.” Aka, it’s the hashtag I like to call: #ninetysevenlinkslaterandihavenoideahowigothere.
Followed by the hashtag #andistilldon’tknowwherei’mgoing.
But before I just dive right in to the nitty gritty, the really not so pretty pieces of my heart, let’s just start well…at real. And let’s stay there. Ok? Let’s just agree to stay real. No sugar coated rims. So let’s just start at real.
Real is this. Real is that ten minutes ago I almost completely launched into an absolute neurotic state when every ounce of my irritable, exhausted being wanted to jump out of my seat at 14a and turn around to the human being seated in seat 15a and say, “Would you please kindly stop kicking my seat?” I mean I pray that’s what would have come out of my mouth because what I was thinking was, “Knock it off! I was sleeping and you woke me up, kicked my seat and I probably have whiplash from it. Thank you very much.”
Ok, perfect. So now that you know what my situation was ten minutes ago before I decided that grace is far more powerful than frustration, I quieted my tongue and didn’t say a word, pulled out my laptop and quietly thanked the woman next to me rapidly powering through the latest travel magazine’s crossword puzzle. For those of you who want to know, the clue for 2. Down is “citrus quencher.”
On that note. The sunset is absolutely glamorous tonight. It’s a peachy shade, almost like a dried nectarine with an ombre tint, radiating from the core of the sun out across the horizon, spilling out into the clouds that fill the foreground all the way to my oval window. It’s beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.
Let me just tell you that this is draft number 85 that I have started to write and just couldn’t find the words. Simply because well, when I write, it’s being vulnerable. And that’s scary. It’s absolutely terrifying to write from a place so tender, a place so vulnerable and a place so absolutely imperfect.
About six months ago to the date, my life and heart was stripped bare. My soul was naked, so to speak. I was literally in a place of having days where I didn’t get out of bed. I didn’t see any point to life, any point to eating, drinking, opening my window shade to let in the morning light, any point to even put two feet in front of the other. It was dark, lonely, and I spent days crying more tears than I knew my body could produce. Finally there was a day when I was able to face some things and when I finally had the courage to face life head on, I looked at myself in the mirror and didn’t even recognize myself. My life had become something outside of what I thought it was supposed to be in my little “perfect” box of dreams and desires that I thought were enough.
I remember a day in May when I was on my knees, my forehead planted against the carpet in my room with my arms outstretched and palms up, and I just sobbed tears that seemed to come from a never ending waterfall. But for some reason, those tears were different than the rest. They were redeeming. They were the beginning. The beginning of the end of a time in my life that I thought was “enough”.
I was that girl who loved Jesus and believed in Him, believed in His power and presence and ability to do big things, but it really wasn’t until I was in a place of not even being able to function on my own, that I met Jesus face to face for the first time. I met grace. I met hope. I met everything I believed in but had never met.
Often times God strips us down to a place so vulnerable, so broken, and strips away every single thing that we think makes us “strong” so that HE can be the strength in us. He stripped away every single thing in me that I thought was “enough” in order to rebuild me to be something I didn’t know I could be.
After the spiritual aspect of stripping away to make something beautiful happened in my life in May, God decided to just show me that in a physical manner. He decided to place me in a town where I watched the most powerful, raging fire strip away land that had been there for years to its bare bones, to dirt.
I watched it happen, just like it had happened in my heart. The tears came roaring down my cheeks like the flames swallowed up the mountains right in front of me.
Sometimes you don’t understand the power of a metaphor until you live one. Does that even make sense? Probably not; but to me it does. I watched something happen that I felt take place in my spirit.
After that, I started to watch a lot of things happen. The things that were “stripped away” weren’t even stripped away completely. Trees that burned still needed to be cut down, homes that burned still needed to be cleaned up. The process of stripping away required even MORE.
Imagine it this way. A woodworker begins his process of whittling a piece of wood from a log. From a log covered in bark. The process begins by stripping away all of the layers of wear and tear, from standing strong through weathering storms, until it reaches a point where the woodworker finds that raw, beautiful wood. Beneath all of those layers, there is that beautiful wood that still exists. But in order to get there, the woodworker must shave off chips and strip away the shell, the exterior, in order to reach that soft, vulnerable interior that can be molded and shaped the way he wants it to be.
That way he can turn something so inferior, something mediocre and common, into a work of art. Into something beautiful. Into something that can serve a purpose. Something that can serve as an example, as a work of art.
In order to become something, you have to literally start at nothing. A tree does not stand tall strong in the wind after one day. A flower does not bloom overnight. It is a process that happens over and over and over.
The ground is tilled and prepared for the seed to be planted. Once it’s planted, the right weather must come and if it doesn’t, the farmer waits for the next season. He waits. He is patient. He plants yet another seed and when it takes, he tends to his garden. He watches it sprout and grow and he plucks away the unnecessary leaves in order for it to grow to its full potential.
And oh my word, how true is it that that is how Christ is with His children. The greatest sorrow and greatest pain, most intense suffering and unbearable sharp shooting aches, buckets of salty tears that burn the skin your cheeks, unbearable-whenwilltheyeverend days of not opening the curtains are just the days of Him preparing us for a place to be remade. To be made new. He is bringing you to a place of holy redemption and a place of vulnerability so He can mold you and shape you.
I remember in May being in a place where I did not understand, I didn’t know why or how long I would be stuck. I just remember feeling like a big heap of black, dirty ash. And two months later, I walked right through them. I stood on top of them. I didn’t realize how powerful that was.
I stood on top of the ashes. Let me just repeat that.
I stood on top of the ashes. On TOP. Above them. He started to rebuild me. To grow me. To make me new. To make all things new. My heart, my love for Him, for His Kingdom to expand on earth, and more than anything, He placed an ironic burning desire within my spirit and run fast towards the Cross.
He began to lead me, to raise me up from the ashes to let the ruins come to life. In order to live, I had to die.
>> to live is Christ and to die is gain.
I used to only look at that verse with literal thought of dying, but I have read that over, and over, and over again and now understand that in order to truly live in this flesh life, rather than just exist—our pride, our flesh desires must die in order for Christ to truly be alive and present and powerful IN us.
I really don’t know if this will make sense to you, but I pray you will understand it and receive it in the way God intends for you to and it may be different to each of you. I’m still wrestling with it myself, but well let’s just wrestle through this together. I say these words through complete self discipleship because I’m saying them to myself just as much.
In this flesh life, there is a tremendous desire in our self to take the battle into our own hands. To “figure it out” ourselves. I’m sorry, I’ll meet you at the corner of “that’s impossible” and “we were really dumb to think we could do that on our own.” …….but come on! How many times have you rejected the offer from someone who wanted to take your bags from you and help carry the weight and you’ve said, “Oh, actually yeah….I can just do it myself.”
Do you realize how you just completely shattered that person’s way of wanting to help you? Do you realize that every single time you do that to God, you are simply throwing away an opportunity to be set free. An opportunity to take off those weights that are slowly crushing you, debilitating you and virtually rendering you ineffective.
Psalm 37:5 writes, “He will do this.”
I love that. I just love the simple, profound truth that He will. Even still, He is. Often times, self-effort hinders His work. It hinders His plan and His timing. It’s difficult for God to fight our battles for us and go before us when we think we can fight them ourselves.
The spiritual forces of heaven simply cannot work when we are trusting in earthly forces or believing that our own strength is enough. Often times we just take things into our own hands when God doesn’t “work quick enough” to meet our impatient state. But like I mentioned earlier.
It takes time. It takes time for a flower to blossom and the gardener must tend to its growth. It takes time for bread to be made from the wheat field. It all takes time.
In Psalm 27:13-14, David writes, “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord. Wait for the Lord. Be strong, and let your heart take courage.”
And you know what I just love? A few chapters later in Psalm 66, verse twelve, God fulfills this, “We went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.”
Peace is often born out of conflict.
When we pray for patience, often Christ sends demanding people who will test that at every cause, like the woman who is still sitting behind me, rattling my seat and still giving me whiplash……….. ;)
Romans 5:3 writes that suffering produces perseverance and in Hebrews 5:8, Christ learned “obedience from what He suffered.”
If we really, honest and truly want to emulate a Christ like spirit, we will live out Isaiah 48:10 and, “be tested in the furnace of affliction,” and be asked Ezekiel 22:14, “Will your courage endure or your hands be strong?”
For really, our aim is to be with Him, to live with Him, seated in the heavenly place. Let me just bring it home by sharing 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 that though, “we were under great pressure…so that we despaired even of life….this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”
What a mighty, powerful, wonderful God we serve. A God who raises the dead, makes the blind see, the paralyzed walk and the mute talk.
He is for you. Let Him be the Champion of Heaven for you.