Friday, August 17, 2012


He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
 On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. 
- Psalm 62:6-8

Strange as it may seem, I find myself envying my dog from time to time. All in all, I prefer my life over his, but there is something about the way he spends his days that I've found I long for. And it's the way he rests. 

Anyone who has a pet knows what I mean, or maybe you're thinking about this for the first time, either way it's not a unique phenomenon. Dogs and cats spend a lot of their day sleeping, and in the midst of all kinds of circumstances. In my house, a screaming toddler, music, a frantic mother, clanging dirty dishes and running tap water do not keep him from his rest. And I'm talking about rest, not just sleep. 

In a non-intellectualized way, I think of sleep as a necessity and rest as an action. You can burn yourself out and eventually sleep really without choice because inevitably your body will shut down by design to protect you. You NEED sleep. But rest is something that comes by discipline for us humans, at least. It is a submission in a way, a voluntary giving up of the constant to-do's and a giving in to a protective state that is very much needed but equally skirted away from. Webster isn't defining these two words and I am taking some liberty with the way I am defining them here so bear that in mind. 

Looking at the scripture above, I am struck at the language used by the psalmist. "On God my salvation and glory rest, the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God... God is a refuge for us". Do you feel pressure to be still yet? If not, read it again. Rest, rock, refuge (used twice) - what do these words have in common? Stillness, peace, a laying down, a giving up of action for something that feels written into our very innermost being - to be still before God and to give in to Him.

I confess right now that resting is so very hard for me. I'm painfully aware of my sin and my position of need for Christ's redemption. And yet I still feel the need to grovel in my sin. To be made low and stay low, looking away from Him in shame. This is an ongoing struggle in my life I've come to accept is part of my sanctification. Depression has been, is and probably always will be woven throughout my story here on earth. And all of it, though sovereignly allowed to touch me by His merciful, just and loving hand, comes from a heart that is wild and restless. I long to submit myself fully to Him, to lay down my groveling, my dark despondency over my lack of worthiness, my pride and insatiable desire for more of me, more of this broken world but I struggle to let it all go. A friend reminded me to embrace being in that place, the place of feeling crushed and made low because God is drawing me in through it. I so very clearly see my need for Him in the midst of this restlessness and my heart longs more for the rest he provides, he promises. And she was right. God surely speaks to us in the most pronounced way as we walk through the dark restless parts of this life. He reminds of us His rest and we are brought low to give in to that rest, to lay it all down and just give in to Him. Like a wife to her husband, we must give ourselves as Christ's bride to our perfect lover. 

I still sit here, typing out words with shaky hands that flow from a body and soul that are anxious from lack of true rest. Just writing out the Truth or reading it doesn't take away the pain of being a broken human being. But He can and He does. And as an act of painfully submitting the sins I love, this wild heart that bucks to be freed right back into slavery, I trust that His love is the refuge I need. It's not my fretting or my groveling or certainly my bucking that saved me, but His perfect grace of which I am undeserving. In that position, where else can I go? To see His love is to run into it, not looking back and to give yourself entirely over to the One who calls you to be still in Him. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

for what it's worth: the struggle of the self

This blog has become somewhat of a joke despite my slightly less than best intentions for it. This is the first post I've actually typed out since September of last year, but it's one of many that has been narrated in my mind. The truth is, I have a lot to say, and it's mostly not about running a family on a budget or the day to day ups and downs of being a stay at home mom to a one year old, though these are very relevant and interesting things to write about. It's thoughts that I have while I'm doing those things that get lost in the shuffle. Thoughts that run deeply through me, that my one year old daughter and schnauzer (who are the only ones here as the words tumble through my brain) cannot and should not understand. So they get labeled, dog eared if you will, in the aspiring hope that one day I will make it my mission to sit down and let the dishes and the dust pile up a bit so that I can put these thoughts down concretely and share them with fellow adults who might find them useful or at least interesting.

So now that I've gone into too much detail just vaguely describing what I'm about to write about, here it goes.

Self is a strange notion. It all at once defines us and yet doesn't at all. And I've been thinking about this a lot lately as I've had my eyes opened to some of my idols, which just for the record is an amazingly hard but wonderful thing to experience. As a child we are told under unwise council that we can do anything we set our minds to, that all we need is self confidence. And for a moment, maybe longer, we feel like this is true and our sense of self is heightened. The illusive idea of self confidence feels attainable and no one can shake it. But then reality, also known as life or growing up, happens and we feel jaded by this utter nonsense. It isn't fitting for everyone to be anything. No one comes into the world with a talent for any and everything, nor should they. The plan of the Creator is quite different than this and it never leaves a depleted feeling as the lie of the self does. One's confidence, or better yet their worth, cannot be found in the self, which cannot even be distinctly defined. It has to be found in something larger, something more cohesive and just downright more important than themselves.

And so begins the journey to find the self for many. The disillusionment of the self confidence lie creates a hunger for something bigger, something that will shed light on who we are. But the lie is really just perpetuated again. Finding the self is just a rephrased adult version "you can be anything!". The self once again seeks the self and returns void. Who you are ends up being either a reaction or a reproduction of the circumstances in which you "found yourself".

Here is where your worth lies. What you do with this notion of self has a direct link to what you place your worth in. Despite our best efforts to stay comfortably numb to it, we truly do all have a void in our lives. And the worldly fix is to fill it up with whatever feels good, whatever inflates the self. Fill yourself with more self. But when are you filled by this method? You can't be. It is a self defeating concept that is thought through very little but acted on with great enthusiasm. And filling the void with yourself can look like many different things. Money, sex, relationships, comfort, good looks, education, children, entertainment, even ministry... I could go on. The point is that it doesn't always look glaringly bad to us by our flawed perception. We are all quick to see the wrong in living our lives for drugs or promiscuous sex, but anything that points us towards more and more of US is wrong. And it's wrong because we weren't created for it. The void is there and it can literally never be filled by any of these things, even the good things, because they cannot bear that load.

The remedy lies in this truth -the self need not be found, but lost. As Jesus says in Matthew 10, "Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it". Our desires to find ourselves, no matter what they are, cannot complete us as we need to be completed. We must see that the seeking of the self will eventually leave us empty, when the thrills of the their temporal promises of happiness are past. But here is where the beautiful story of the gospel of Christ fits perfectly into the struggle of the self. A Redemptive God steps in as a man with His own struggle of self and defeats the power of the lie for our sake. Without Christ we don't want life, we just want self and more self. Because life is found at the cross, where the sinful self was redeemed and reconciled to God and life is being confident in Christ.


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