Have you ever stood during a worship time at church and felt blank? And yet, you know there are deep waters right below the surface. Then there comes a moment when you allow your mind to focus on a particular line in a worship song and suddenly you allow the truth of how deeply Christ intersects our lives—how much he understands our sorrows, how much he has forgiven us, how good he is, how intimately he knows me—to crack the surface of that blankness. Then a tear trickles out. Then the choice comes—do I allow myself to enter in to this emotion, or keep holding it back…?
Well, you may never have experienced that, but I have. It can be similar reading the Word as well. Sometimes I read it and I feel like a duck—it washes right off my back, interesting, but not going to affect me, not going to sink in. But if I stop trying to do the task of reading, and allow my mind to engage, it is so much more than a book, and it truly does pierce, discern and expose as is described in Hebrews 4:12-13. And this is a good thing, because being built up always follows being exposed. Encouragement and care mean so much more when they come from someone who knows the real me (who better than Jesus?)—not the put-together façade I manage to maintain most of the time (although, I will admit having children around me that are not 100% in my control does hinder my efforts to look put together at times—haha).
I don’t want to have to be cracked. I don’t want to experience blankness. I want to live more fully in the light (I John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”). So how do I decompress on the inside in such a way that will soften my outside as well? How do I live authentically for Christ, not focused on my way, my reputation, my desires?
Ney Bailey shared at the Cru15 conference (one of tons of great thoughts) that we should “Bring God into the negative by thanking him for hard things. It allows him to be at work.” When we are frustrated by life’s circumstances, we should use discernment to pray instead of being critical. As I have thought about this, I think it is interesting that often when we are critical of circumstances, in our hearts we are blaming God for not doing what we want. That turns out to be pretty “me-centered,” failing to recognize that God has a lot more information and a lot more wisdom than we do. He is both more for us and less for us than we are. He is more for us in that he knows what we need much more than we do, and he will chose what is better, even if we would not have chosen it. Yet he is less for us in that he is ultimately for His glory and not ours. The place these two perspectives mesh, however, is in the reality that if we are for His glory and not ours, we will be happier too, so it is really “for us” to make that choice to be less focused on ourselves.
I am seeking to put this wisdom into practice in little ways. When I am frustrated by my circumstances, I am seeking to thank God for each thing that is frustrating me.
- I can thank him that none of our foster kids has turned out to be adoptable because through fostering he has grown my heart for birth families, he has taught me about different cultures, he has given me opportunities to step outside of my comfort zone, and he has shown me that I can care for kids on the deepest level who are not truly “mine.”
- I can thank him for my oldest son’s difficulty learning empathy because through it God is teaching me patience and exposing my own struggle to sacrifice my wants for the sake of others too.
- I can thank him for legal challenges to our Cru Chapters getting registered around the country because it allows us to learn dependence on God instead of strategy, and leads many students to think about what it means to follow Christ and whether it is worth it to live our lives with a firm foundation on the rock of God’s Word.
This practice causes me to worship more deeply, taking my eyes even more off of myself, and allowing me to trust and hope in Him. And that makes me happier, takes away fears, and peels off the “blankness.” Thank you God!