2012: To Stand in Awe

What do you do when you don’t feel like trusting?

…When you do not feel like there is a song to sing in the dark?

….When your heart longs for beauty but all you see is explosions, falling apart, fears for the future, hard, numb emotions?

…What do you do when this new year isn’t one that you look forward to…but are already tired and feel the long in your bones for heaven and home?

What do you do when the aching tempts you to build walls to avoid people, control people, and drives you away from being able to “look on the bright side” (or when looking on the bright side feels like smacking a gaping gunshot wound with a Hello Kitty Band-Aid?) …When comfort just is never enough?

It is that deep longing in the bones, the mind-transformed, ACHE for heaven. While it may seem morbid to some who have not experienced times where there simply is not a single light, this heaven-mindedness should engulf us all.

We shouldn’t be content with forever living on a sin-shot earth. He did not make us that way. 

A friend told me this…this truth about “resurrection power”. She said those two words over and over again, in different contexts, with different situations…I thought I understood. I didn’t.

I didn’t get it. And yet, with the life experiences I was having at the time, I led a “round-table” Bible study session with the emphasis on how a seed goes down into the ground and dies…and if it doesn’t “die,” it abides alone. It doesn’t bear much fruit staying encapsulated in its sheath deep down there under gritty reality above. But I didn’t get it.

Maybe I understood a small part. And maybe now...no, now I do understand more. I don’t understand how it all works, neither do I think that this mystery of dying-to-live won’t be revamped in my mind by future circumstances. That’s the beauty of grace lessons: they just keep getting new feet, and new eyes for new heights.

In humanity, it seems like foolishness to live in this dying-to-self, this gospel (good news) love. It seems insecure, unable to provide stability, like weeds that provide little lasting fuel for a fire. Crucifying the sin within us is painful. Somehow my brain still thinks (daily!) that it leads to life.

And so, grudgingly I bury my sin in a graveyard, (just because He has said to…) because I want life…and I think I know (on the surface) what that life looks like. I bury my selfish-expectations-placed-on-people, envy, lust, greed, anger, hatred, worry, and fear. And, sorrowfully, I mourn for it. I mourn. pathetic. I mourn for that which wanted to consume me, which is evil in its very intent. I mourn for being told to leave my tomb-tending existence and live in the light of truth of who God is, and who I am. Now that is foolishness!

And my heart reads along with my head as I scan passage after passage of holy writ that says to “wait on the Lord” and that “He will deliver” me and I glance around at the sin infested mess of flesh that I war against, and silently, in unbelief, my heart scoffs.

It scoffs at glory.

And I hold onto pieces that I do not want to bury. Pieces like, “Really? You said you would deliver, but this situation is still a bleeding mess.” Questions. Questions I’m convinced will set me free.

But while the law year after year identified for the Israelite what it looked like to run after another god and ask it to save, it only pointed to death. God knew His people needed to remember again and again that it’s blood that matters. It’s a dying that gives freedom. He knew they needed an ultimate death for an ultimate life.

And God, The Perfect, Holy One, sent Jesus: The Perfect Holy One. He sent Him into the bleeding mess of humanity, the scarred earth that groaned in childbirth. He sent Him here to dwell among us, to die. We just celebrated His coming last weekend. He did die. He died naked, staked (so-called) “helplessly”  to wood that He’d created. He was scoffed at, shamed, ridiculed, and questioned.  He was buried. And though the debt for sin was paid, He was still dead… until the third day.

And that third day is what brings life to this crucifying of flesh and sin. Where the law only pointed its death out, the empty tomb, the resurrection tomb brings hope, grace, peace, life.

And it proves that only God raises the dead.

It proves that when I crucify and bury sin, the “waiting on the Lord” that happens is the waiting for resurrection…resurrection I know He has the power to accomplish, and I know that he has promised to accomplish. I am waiting on the Holy Spirit to give life to my mortal body eternally, but I’m also waiting on the fruit…the fruit coming up from that “seed” planted deep and dead.This is not “fruit of changed circumstance.” It is “fruit of the Spirit”.

Love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control. (That’s the growth that comes up from the ground). I cannot force it up. I lay down the seed (because His grace has given me the will to). He brings life to dead places.

2012 starts a cycle of months and seasons.

It is January. Cold, misty, dark, frozen. We wait with our seed in the ground. Joyful, this time, at the trampling knowing He has promised to bring forth fruit. I don’t know what that fruit will look like this year for you or for me. But even though my heart longs for warmth of spring, I can experience the warmth of spring each day in the planting. Being a “life-giver” (a resolution of mine) starts with the laying down. So the prayer is for continued surrender, continue submission. Submission looks to God and says, “You are to be praised. You are the only one worthy of worship. My plans are not to be worshipped, my dear ones are not to be worshiped. Only you God, only You.”

When the earth still feels frozen, hard, cold, and my heart and your heart feels heavy with the planting, the only place is to look up. To look up to the ultimate planter, gardener, care-giver. He is the worker of justice, mercy, knowledge. In submission I lay low, and it is in the laying low that the joy comes.

Because He is the only God.

May He be glorified this new year. His joy is beautiful!

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