Oct 9, 2007

Oh, God is so good. I have been blessed today - but it stems from a week filled with unsatisfaction, thoughts of transferring, hard conversations, wonderful conversations, loneliness, and amazement. So let's jump right in...too many thoughts to have coherent paragraphs.

"It is possible to know all about doctrine and yet not know Jesus. The soul is in danger when knowledge of doctrine outsteps intimate touch with Jesus. Why was Mary weeping? Doctrine was no more to Mary than the grass under her feet. Any Pharisee could have made a fool of Mary doctrinally, but one thing they could not ridicule out of her was the fact that Jesus had cast seven demons out of her; yet His blessings were nothing in comparison to Himself."

Oswald Chamber, August 16th of My Utmost for His Highest. I found it for $1 at Half Price Books in Westport. Over the summer I interacted with many people who knew a lot more about theology than I did. I didn't know what the Five Points of Calvinism were, nor, to be honest, what Calvinism even was. I remember the name Zwingli from AP European History my sophomore year of high school (may it never be relived). I came into conversations like that with my head hung low, feeling like a terrible Christian. I am not a deep thinker. I don't ponder predestination or the issue of women in ministry. So I started to question myself. I asked more questions of my parents. I researched theology books - is there any theology 101 book I could get to read? Just to have a basic knowledge? I like to be well-informed, I'm used to having the answers. Mary was one of Jesus's closest followers; she had experienced His healing, His wholeness, first-hand. She, more than most, knew Him better. She desired intimacy with God - she went so far as to rise before the sun after the Sabbath to finish the burial that was left undone - wanting to treat the dead body, beginning to decay and endure the stench, because she loved Him. Doctrine didn't matter - all that mattered was Him.

"I just want to be first."

A new phrase was given to me this week. A simple yet complex statement - "Desire God".

Die to Self, I just want to be first, Desire God.

I think He's trying to teach me something. And I want to learn it. I do. But I don't know how.

"I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. I hold fast to your statutes, O Lord; do not let me be put to shame. I RUN in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart FREE. Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for THERE I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word." (Psalm 119: 30-37)

I read Psalm 119 last night, but I read through it so quickly because it was a perfect description of where I am. I want all that it talks about, but I don't understand how to get there. So I continue to pray that He shows me, give me understanding, directs me in the path of His commands, turns my heart...I have become recently very consumed with the desire for something that I should not have a desire for. As I read over some notes I had from several weeks ago, I came across this quote:

In Passion and Purity, Elisabeth Elliot writes "My heart was saying, "Lord, take away this longing, or give me that for which I long." The Lord was answering, "I must teach you to long for something better.""

So here I stand, a week of mulling and sadness and discontent and weariness and joy and peace and desire and delight. I am left here, no more doctrinally wise than before but praying that my desire becomes Him and only Him. That the things that tempt and call my name will fade away, fade behind Him, leaving Him the only view in my path. That I will be the sinful woman, coming with all I have and washing His feet with tears and perfume, to kiss His feet and to know Him.

Oct 1, 2007

Weekend Off

I don't write much I am finding. I never feel like I have something worth writing about. But this weekend I had a moment worth recording.

I took my monthly weekend off RA duty and went home for a few days. I made the most of the time I had, trying to see as many people as I could (though most didn't ever return my phone calls). I had some precious time with Katie - one of the best relationships to come out of my 10 weeks on Summer Staff. Sunday night I went to The Gathering at Heartland with my mom. I saw lots of familiar faces and settled in to hear Isaac talk one more time.

During worship, there tends to be some long interludes between songs. I find myself often getting bored, unable to think of something to "do" in that time of worship. I caught myself thinking "when is this going to be over?", then cringed at my waste of time intended solely for Him. Worship is for Him, so why am I not spending it with Him? So I asked "What is it you want from me in this time, Lord?"

"I just want to be first."

An immediate clear, concise, and cutting response.

"I just want to be first."

I just want to know you love me. I want to come before school, friends, e-mail, sin, loneliness, anxiety, to do lists, books (even Christian ones), work, everything. I just want to be first.

We sit down, me still wrestling with the words I just heard, trying to reason the ways He HAS been first...but it never amounts to much.

Isaac spoke on fear. He is headed off into the unknown. He talked about how we must step into the fear, into the unknown, fully assured by the Father who takes us by the arms, heals us, leads us with kindness and love, takes our burdens, feeds us. (Hosea 11:3-4)

I just want to be first.

As I sit back and struggle with the "what now?" of the whole thing, I realize that this, all of this, my whole life is never ever once about me. It seems like it must end up being about my failures, my inadequacies, my shortcomings, when it's about grace. Grace that comes through a love that is never really understood. I can sit and think about how I failed Him, or I can walk with the knowledge that only grace is keeping me. Grace holds me, provokes me, and saves.

It's something we always hear. Put God first. You focus on Him and the rest of the picture comes in to focus. Who is capable of this? Who can honestly put Him first, focus on Him first? It leaves me wondering why worry about ridding yourself of sin when I'm a sinful creature and I always will be. I will never be enough. I will never be adequate. So why do I try? I'm just going to fail.

Because it's never about me. It's about Him. It's about laying those things at His feet. Laying down the dots and the stars you've been given. It's about dying to self. It's about living Christ. It's about making Him first.