So what does that really mean for me? for you?
I am wrestling with Romans 5 this morning. Hell, who are we kidding?! I am just wrestling.
I dream for a day when the wrestling will stop, but deep in my heart I know that day will arrive soon enough and it will be my first day in heaven...and it will be glorious. Until then, I am walking this earth, this broken world, full of broken people, inside this broken person...Wrestling. With God.
On a morning where you are having tough conversations with people about stuff like race, justice, giving, etc., Romans 5 can wreck you and your heart. We "rejoice in our suffering"??? Ummm...not there yet...not there on most days...during most trials.
We throw around words like justice and grace and reconciliation, but what do any of us really know about any of those things? Truly?
I am asking.
I am asking because I am naïve on these topics. Have I read a lot and asked a lot of questions and listened? Yes, yes, and yes. But do I know? Know?? I do not. I am just learning to understand the depths of the issues that plague or nation and our world. I am just beginning to grasp that one article, great idea, or good person is limited on the impact it can make in these causes. I am just beginning to understand the pain.
I still find myself wanting to be understood as I wrestle with these topics....and I hear God whisper, "Seek first to understand..." and the tears burn on my face. I am selfish. I don't understand, and I don't feel understood. "Keep going." he encourages.
See, for me, justice and reconciliation is forcing me to comprehend my own salvation through Christ on a deeper level, and let me just say it is unpleasant, at best, and horrifically terrifying at it's worst.
Today, I actually heard him whisper, "You still don't understand how much I love you." and I don't.
In the past two weeks, I have used the phrase twice that you have to understand the darkness of hell to fully appreciate the grace of heaven. I believe that...more and more every day. I believe that because I see/feel God showing me my own darkness and how destructive it has been and continues to be in my life...and on the flip side how much he loves me...how much he believes in me...the depth of his grace that he offers me...well, it is opening my heart.
I struggle with my own prejudices towards others and those towards me. I struggle to reconcile what is true about me versus what I have been told is true about me (i.e., what I believed was true about me).
So what can I learn about reconciliation (in all forms) through my own reconciliation with Christ? Well, to be frank...a lot. God and I have had a relationship since I was 13...he has known me my whole life...and certainly our relationship has deepened over the past several years, but in all of that do I really comprehend the reconciliation that is mine with God through Christ Jesus? I am ashamed to say I do not.
So....if that is true, than the rest of the story is that I don't fully understand reconciliation in the world's sense whether we are talking about race, warring nations, women's rights, generational poverty, etc.
...and with that last sentence, I felt another shackle fall from my shoulders.
A shackle of defensiveness and expectation that I am supposed to "get this" or "know this" because I am not.
These are tough times to live on this planet. There is so much good, but there is also so much bad. There is so much to do, but then there are the needs of my one little family or community or business. It is hard and overwhelming at times to know what to work on. I feel like I am caring too much and doing too little. The desire to crawl in bed and stick my head under the covers...for forever...crosses my mind more than I am comfortable admitting to. In the age of social media and 24/7 news, I/we are inundated with information and thoughts and opinions and perspectives and pain...and sometimes it is simply TOO much. Too. Much.
This morning, God took me to Romans 5 like the gift-giver he is and said, read this...remember this...remember me...remember you and me....remember the work we are doing in you...in your heart??? Any of this ringing a bell? I am smiling as I type the last part, but the truth is that God sasses me sometimes, and I deserve every bit of it.
I have BIG feelings. I love BIG. I have a deep desire to learn and do better...be better. Sometimes I get overwhelmed...my heart gets overwhelmed. Sometimes God has to bring me back to center and remind that at the end of the day, it is about me and him...and if I will just focus on that...focus on him...the rest of it...well, it tends to fall into place more easily, make more sense, and bless my heart...I find some perspective.
If we are "helping" the world and not going to God as our fuel source, we are going to end up weary and dry. Sometimes it is simply asking him, "God where are you in THIS?" and waiting for him to answer...because he is in THIS. He is all of this. He is with us. He is with me.
There is this amazing song on Hillsong United's new album Empires called "Here Now (Madness)" (click link for You Tube video). Last night driving to the airport to surprise my nephews, it came on, and I suddenly started crying. It was coming from a deep place (you know those tears), and I asked God what is this? Something new that I have to give up to him...and I suddenly remembered the prayer at the end of Chapter 2 in Tozer's book (see photo below).
"...I come trembling, but I do come." and "...Thou mayest enter and dwell...without a rival." Wow.
I do come God. I do. Trembling from head to foot. Broken. Eager. Earnest. Hopeful. Thank you for reminding me that you are here. You are here now. It makes no sense, but this is grace. This is YOUR grace. Let me lay face down at your feet and drink again from its goodness. I forget that it is there for me. I forget how great and deep my own need. I simply forget. Wash over me. Once again.
What do you need to give up? What is God asking of you that you are resisting? I feel him challenging me in deep and new places. Is he challenging you too? Please share. It is important for us to be a tribe here...to encourage each other. Growth sucks. No doubt. It is also the door to greater joy. Greater love.
Here now. Let us hear him.