Yesterday, I had some of the coolest God time that I've had in a while. I realize "God time" isn't a great technical term, but that's just what it is. There were so many things that came to my head and that I was thinking about- and for anyone who knows me, I don't have to explain that my thoughts tend to jump around a lot :) So this may not make much sense to anyone other than me and my Lord. It was strange to come away yesterday feeling full of shame, and yet, wonderfully redeemed at the same time.
I guess it started because I was talking to a friend the other day about suffering. He's going through an incredibly difficult time right now, and we were talking about the hard time I went through a few years ago, which was a similar situation. It's so hard to see someone else go through a time like this- knowing you can't "fix" it or take away the pain. So Nick and I have just been encouraging him and talking with him a lot, even though there's not much that can be done to heal this wound quickly. And then I told him the other night that now, looking back on what I went through, I'm so thankful for those terribly painful months I went through. I remember my mom's friend once said to her, "Wow, God must really love you to allow you to go through something that hard." And it's so true- it's such a privilege to go through those dark times. I had some indescribable moments with God as I was going through my pain. And I know I'm a different person as a result- although still a definite work in progress :) But it hit me, that looking back on it now, I feel so selfish about my suffering. I mean, Nick is obviously a huge blessing that came out of my whole situation- and I get overwhelmed when I realize how awesome God's plan was in preparing us for each other. But, what if something that great hadn't come out of my suffering? What if there had been no Nick at the end- no reward in this life to make it make sense? Would I not have been thankful for God leading me through that valley? Would the promise of eternity and God's grace and love not have been enough to satisfy me? I feel like I'm all the time saying to people, or thinking to myself, that God has a reason for the pain and rough times that people go through. But do I fully trust in that and live like I believe that? Am I truly comfortable in giving over my life to whatever brings Him glory- even if that means pain? It just frustrates me that I act like I deserve some reward or honor for the suffering I go through. Or that I deserve some earthly justice when I'm wronged. Is Christ's sacrifice and my eternity not enough? And was His life not full of suffering and injustice? I love thinking that one day, we're all going to look back and any pain and difficulties we faced will seem so trivial and so worth it. But it's so hard to stay focused on that in the midst of the hurting.
Then, my mind jumped, and I started thinking about how I probably screw up 99% of the time. And then in that 1% that I may actually act in a way pleasing to Him, I'm still so quick to want the credit and the glory for it, rather than for it to go to my King. My war with my flesh side is so frustrating- and I hate how I get distracted so easily from what is eternal and what my true purpose is!!! Why am I so willing to seek Him in the dark times and give Him my ugly stuff, but then be so selfish in the good times and with my talents?
And yet, despite all my failures and my sinful ways, it's impossible to ignore the Easter message and the great hope I have that's bigger than all my faults. It's our God's way of affirming us and reminding us of His amazing love. Here are some of the verses that really spoke to me:
Colossians 2:14: "He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross."
Isaiah 53:5: "He was pierced for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our sins,
The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him,
And by His wounds we are healed."
(***Totally cool song called "By His Wounds" on the Glory Revealed CD)
And one of my all time favorite verses:
John 12:25: "Anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal."-The Message
What a great reminder that only in dying to His purpose can I truly live life to the fullest. I hate to wonder how often I forfeit that awesome opportunity by simply getting distracted and sucked into the world's idea of living to the fullest. Thank you Jesus, for your incredible sacrifice. Forgive me when I'm so quick to forget the price you paid. And may I be willing to give you my glory as well as my sins.
I just want to end with some of my favorite lyrics ever, from Bebo Norman:
"Take my voice, and pour it out,
Let it sing the songs of mercies I have found.
For I have nothing, I have nothing, without you.
All my soul needs,
Is all your love to cover me.
So all the world can see that I have nothing, without you"