Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Run, Change, Rearrange

Every time there's an ache or frustration in my life I try to find out what it would take to get far away from feeling that way again.

Moving, changing jobs, rearranging furniture...change is what I feel I need when life doesn't go my way.
But what am I running from and why am I so afraid of being stuck & dependent on others...and God?

When things get tough I try to smooth it out instead of asking God what I am to learn through this rough patch.
Why is it so hard to lean on God?

He's proven himself over and over to me that he's faithful, that he's good, and his plans for me are perfect.

Why do I think I'm competent to do it on my own?
I'm not! It's more fear to let go of my will.

This last year was hell, and even though God blessed us immensley, I'm afraid to give up control because I fear the unknown and the hurts that accompany it.

Love God. Love Others.

I've read this book before, but never before has it hit me like this. I'm only through the introduction and I'm excited to see the changes that I know God will see me through.

'Inside Out' by Larry Crab

Exceprts from the Introduction

We are told, sometimes explicity but more often by example, that it's simply not necessary to feel the impact of family tensions, frightening possibilities, or discouraging news. An inexpressible joy is available which, rather than supporting us through hard times, can actually eliminate pressure, worry, and pain from our experience. Life may have its rough spots, but the reality of Christ's presence and blessing can so thrill our soul that pain is virtually unfelt. It simply isn't necessary to wrestle with internal struggle and disorder. Just trust, surrender, peservere, obey.

The effect of such teaching is to blunt the painful reality of what it's like to live as part of an imperfect, and sometimes evil, community. We learn to pretend that we feel now what we cannot feel until Heaven.

The experience of groaning, however, is precisely what modern Christianity so often tries to help us escape. The gospel of health and wealth appeals to our legitimate longing for relief by skipping over the call to endure suffering. Faith becomes the means not to learning contentment regardles of circumstances, but rather to rearranging one's circumstances to provide more comfort.

The promise of one day being with Jesus in a perfect world is the Christian's only hope for complete relief. Until then we either groan or pretend we don't.

Trusting another is perhaps the most difficult requirement of the Christian life. We hate to be dependent because we have learned to trust no one, not fully. We know better. Everyone in whom we have placed our confidence has in some way disappointed us. To trust fully, we conclude is suicide.

We want something now! And something is available now, something wonderful and real. But we will find only its counterfeit until we realize that the intensity of our disappointment with life coupled with a Christianity that promises to relieve that disappointment now has radically shifted the foundation of our faith. No longer do we resolutely bank everything on the coming of a nail-scarred Christ for His groaning but faithfully waiting people. Our hope has switched to a responsive Christ who satisfies His hurting people by quickly granting them the relief they demand.

God wants us to be courageous people who are deeply bothered by the horrors of living as part of a fallen race, people see, yet emerge prepared to live. Scarred, still troubled, but deeply loving. When the fact is faced that life is profoundly disappointing, the only way to make it is to learn to love. And only those who are no longer consumed with finding satisfaction are now able to love. Only when we commit our yearning for perfect joy to a Father we have learned to deeply trust are we free to live for others despite the reality of a perpetual ache.

Again, I feel normal. The ache to feel joy is part of God's original, beautiful design but because of the fallen world we live in, that joy cannot be found here on earth. Like the last paragraph describes, the only way we can find joy is when our selfish desires to be comfortable are replaced by a deeper yearning to love others well.

I'm reminded of times in my life where there has been serious conflict with others. When spending time with these individuals its a surreal feeling to sense a large elephant in the room that everyone seems to ignore and deny is there...all the while everything will look normal and fine. I see everyone taking their roles like in a low-budget movie or high school play. There's the director who works really hard to make everything flow nicely. Often times they're the ones keeping the conversation going by asking vague non-hot-button questions. Then there are the actors and actresses who want to please the director and try their best to act out how everything is supposed to look...but due to the lack of Hollywood talent & grandeur its simply obvious they don't really want to be there. To the audience everything looks fine, but a conversation with the 'behind the scene' stagemen brings all the truth to light.

Appearances are only that, appearances. But why the games, why the acting? Is it to preserve emotions of the audience, or the director who can't quite get it perfect? I wonder what it would be like if at the beginning of the show the stagemen would come out and tell all of the events from behind the scenes. Our perspective of everyone would change, even towards the audience...but maybe thats exactly what the director wants to hide.

There's an ache in all of us for things to be just right. When things don't go our way we become frustrated, angry, and hurt. But who cares? Life gets messy, feelings get hurt, and even if we try our best to avoid pain and disappointment LIFE WILL FIND US. The good news is that life is very short in comparison to what glory is before those who love and accept Christ Jesus. These temporary aches and pains give us a deeper desire for the 'good life' and the 'good life' is only available in Heaven. Press on toward the goal.

So how do we cope with these desires we cannot fill here on earth? You won't find it in the bottle, the pipe, your friends, your church. Yes, I said it, you won't find it in your church. This is how we cope: Love God. Love Others. The most important commandment in the Bible tells us to Love God and Love Others as we love ourselves. Notice how the command isn't to love God, Others AND ourselves. We naturally are obsessed with ourselves so the command is to love OTHERS as much as we are stuck on ourselves. Wow. Seems like an impossible task at hand, but why not give it a go? I've tried everything else to fill my void, I'm going to try love...I'm pretty sure the results will be more than I can imagine.

Tune in for more changes!