Our household is going to do 2012 differently. My 2011 motto was: “I’m considering the possibility that I’ve been wrong about
everything.” 2012 is “I was wrong about everything, so let’s get right.” The wrong we are tackling is that I thought Christianity was about living a happy, comfortable life with a little Jesus tossed in to top it off. WRONG. So. very. wrong.
Enter 7. (http://www.amazon.com/7-Experimental-Mutiny-Against-Excess/dp/1433672960/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1328048327&sr=8-1) An experimental mutiny against excess. We have too much. Period. We have so much, and I want more. When life gets tough, I don’t want Jesus. I want a latte…or a pedicure…or a new book…or a fancy dinner…and the list goes on and on. For months, the Holy Spirit has been revealing this darkness inside of me, and I’m ready for some light!
This month, we (and a few other couples from church) are starting the mutiny. 7 foods for 30 days. Only water to drink, and we are praying that God will reveal our sin and redirect our desires. We want repentance and a new heart. We want to break addictions and reveal this stuff for what it is – just stuff. And we want to desire Jesus more that chocolate. I am trusting that Jesus will show me how much better he satisfies. It’s not easy, and the Devil is bringing strife and temptations around every corner, but it’s a worthy quest. I desperately want the blinders to come off so I can see life for what it is – an opportunity to glorify God.
So, Wednesday night, I took a break from working, and I found a link to photos of the orphanage where our kids are. The photos were just taken a couple weeks ago. We flipped through them all,and we saw a bunch of pics of Carolyn! How fun! She looked happy and healthy. Thanks Lord for more undeserved grace.
This past weekend I was struggling with doubt. I was feeling pretty overwhelmed about life, and I prayed, “Lord, show me you are real. I can’t see it.” This is a common problem I have – I regularly experience crises of faith. I am going along ok, and then I lose it – doubt creeps in, and I let it take root. I’ve just been feeling that I am in the midst of a full-fledged spiritual battle, and I am losing. My mom reminded me on Monday that the prophets, Paul, and even Jesus himself looked defeated from the outside when they were about to be great victors. Let’s hope that’s what going on with me (but I’m no prophet or Paul!).
I’ve been reading Radical by David Platt, and it’s been firing me up! It’s so good thus far. The premise is that the American Dream (work hard/our ability = security, rewards, STUFF, comfort) has crept into American Christianity and is directly opposed to the gospel. This liberal, watered-down gospel says that you are great, God loves you, and just wants to be a part of your life. Thus, we tell people to “accept” Jesus (gag me!) and then they will live a happy, comfortable life. The TRUE gospel says that God hates us, and we need him. Also, when you surrender and place your trust in God, life gets ugly hard. As Mark Driscoll says, we worship a homeless guy who got murdered. Following him is never easy (but it’s SO worth it). I love this because it makes me feel so much more secure in my struggle. I think I spend too much time looking at casual Christians, who don’t seem to be struggling, so then I start to doubt, thinking that I’m doing something wrong. But the Bible shows me that the struggle is what it’s all about. Jesus was not particularly happy, definitely not comfortable, and was battling his whole ministry. I suppose that’s what I should be expecting in my own life if I’m a Christian.
This is not to ignore grace. Certainly there is grace – so much grace – abundant grace! God does love me and does bless me in more ways than I can count. Honestly, the fact that I wake up in the morning and live my 1% life is a pure, undeserved miracle. God is SO present in this struggle. Sometimes I lose sight of this because I’m just not looking. I’m looking inward instead of outward – I want to “feel” better, but the cure is outside myself. Then, God gives me grace, even when I am still whining and wrestling. On Monday, we got an email from our case worker stating that one of our docs came in from the DRC government! Wahoo! It’s not much, but it’s something. God is real, and He’s right here.
The Wait (as I like to call it), is taking it’s toll. We are cranky, we are bored, we are tired, we want to quit, we are angry, we are lonely. The holidays really put us over the edge, and the funk continues. More and more, we are sitting at dinner or on the couch, looking at each other and asking what else we can do to pass the time. We have nothing left to talk about, and we are sick of the day to day activities of life. I’m out of pep talks to myself. I can’t psych myself into being excited or joyful. There’s no silver lining. This just bites.
I’m leaning on the prayers of others. I’m trusting that God has a purpose for the waiting and that it’s not pointless. Only God can provide the joy that I am lacking. It’s not coming through effort.
I realize this is complaining and sounds bitter. It’s not really from a bitter place, but I do want a record that it is how we feel. The wait is harder and longer on the children, for sure. I hope that in some small way, we can tell them that we shared their pain. There are few things that give me comfort right now. One is that it’s a challenge because it’s spiritual warfare. I know without a doubt that adoption is God’s work. It’s hard, long, painful, and complicated specifically because the Devil hates it. Why wouldn’t he? It’s an actual picture of the gospel.
One thing I’m struggling with is how to answer the questions. People want to know what’s going on, how we are doing. I want to answer with Christ-centered joy and hope, but I can never find the right words. The reality is that there’s no update, and we are struggling, but that sounds depressing. There’s another piece of the picture that’s not as obvious. God is sustaining us. He is working (although I can’t see it). He has not forsaken us. But, this is a battle. Everyday is a fight to keep at it. I certainly count myself lucky to be in the fight on the side of the Lord, but it is not easy.
At times, we have felt that we want to continue experiencing trials because it’s the time when God really refines us. Our desperation makes us lean on Him and causes us to grow closer with him and with each other. Lord, let that be true!
This Sunday, Pastor Lutzer preached on trusting God – transferring our burdens to him. He spoke about how we often ask God to help us, but we don’t actually let him or want him to take the burdens. We hold on to these things as if our life depended on them. They define us, and as much as we say we want them to go away, we can’t let go. Change is too scary.
We are about to start a seven month fast in seven areas of excess in our life. (Check out 7 by Jen Hatmaker –
http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2011/12/26/an-experimental-mutiny-against-excess.) Seven areas where we have gone overboard. We are going to try and cut out excess to make room for God. It’s absolutely terrifying to think about having less. Don’t I need everything I have? How can I love without these things? I have been praying that God would glorify himself at my expense. I’ve been praying for radical change in my life. Now it’s time to put my money where my mouth is. If I really want God to work in my life, I have to let go of the death grip. It’s only through the Holy Spirit that I can. I am so excited!
One of the promised posts on the holidays…
When we were kids, the holidays were so fantastic. It was so fun to go to Grandma’s house, play with cousins and eat endless amounts of dessert! Our parents didn’t seem equally excited. In fact, they seemed like they were dreading it! Why? Because, unlike our childlike view, Grandma is a drama queen, the cousins are horribly behaved little devil children and Uncle Steve is sleeping with his secretary and everyone knows it except his wife! (This is not actually a portrait of my family – except the cousins part, you know who you are – but you get the idea.) This is the family we walk into for a holiday celebration. No wonder it’s no fun! Why do we expect any different? We are all fallen people, and for some reason, the rules of common courtesy and respectfulness don’t apply among people who are related. However, we are expected to put on a smiley face and hang out on Christmas.
So what’s to be done? A boycott?
Love thy neighbor as yourself. (Matt 22:39) What is love?
Expectations kill love. Expecting something from someone else is not loving. Love is not quid pro quo (yes, I am a lawyer). This is love – not that we love God, but that he loved us, and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10) Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not require reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving. (Paul David Tripp, “What Did You Expect?) God didn’t expect anything from us. He just loved us. We were the most unloving and the most undeserving.
Am I willing? Am I self-sacrificing? Certainly there are people in my life who are unloving and undeserving. Am I loving to them or only to those who are deserving? More than that, do I even know what love is?
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11 ESV)
5 years since we threw out the birth control
2 years since we were pregnant for two days
13 months since we started the adoption process
3 months since we accepted our referral
Why can’t I stop counting? I want to stop so badly. Why can’t my brain forget the passing of time?
He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. (Psalm 147:4 ESV)
Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 12:7 ESV)
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:16 ESV)
The time has a purpose.
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. (2 Peter 3:8-10 ESV)
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV)
Lord that I may know that you are counting and trust that the time passing has a purpose.