So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.
Recently, three of my favorite women in the world-Tasha, Andrea, and Kelli, came in town. While they were here, at different points with different women, we were able to have a few of those talks in which you feel like your soul has been heard. And because God is really good, these women shared personal stories as well. I was able to hear about their marriages, key family relationships, struggles, and how God is loving them to Himself through various teachings. Many of the things said that weekend resonated in a really deep way with me and with my spirit.
One discussion we had was about listening to God through meditation, prayer, and the Scriptures. This may seem silly--but it has left me in a state of spiritual renewal. I am constantly busying myself with new spiritual commitments (reading through the Bible, reading "spiritual" books, praying the "ACTS" way, etc.). There is nothing wrong with these commitments except that I can never complete or finish them and they are busy work for me. I do not spend time praying that the Holy Spirit would convict me of my sin, show me ways to intentionally serve, and teach me how to worship. Instead I spend time learning cool spiritual things to talk about or get discouraged because I don't naturally always LIKE to pray or spend time in the Word.
Anyway, I have spent more time in Scripture, praying, and worshiping in the last few weeks than in many years and actually have a DESIRE to do this. I am asking God to help me pay attention to Him in my day to day life by making clear the needs of others, convicting me of my sin, and helping me to be thankful for the undeserved blessings He pours out to me in my daily life. He is really teaching me that my worship, relationships, prayer, and theology will never be perfect, but He already sent His perfect son for that, and that is SO freeing!!! For example, many people in a church I grew up in believe that closing your eyes, raising your hands, or dancing during worship on Sunday mornings is merely an attempt to receive attention. For me I worship BETTER when I can concentrate on the words by closing my eyes, and can raise my hands to physically express my praise and adoration for our AWESOME God, and dance (no booty dancing, don't worry). These are not acts to get attention when I'm quite certain these get more negative than positive attention where I come from, but are acts that God has asked me to do. They are also biblical....VERY biblical. God has not called everyone to worship this way, but He HAS called me to do this. That is only one example, and I am LOVING worship now.
Ya'll (all 2 of you who read my blog) think I'm just really awesome now, huh? Okay, so now the big news--I have ALSO found myself SO critical of others, bitter and jealous towards certain people, frustrated, and impatient. It is so extremely frustrating. And here is where you should read again the verse I began with. :) I read this this morning and I am so certain that Paul wrote this for me specifically. It is SO true. I am finding a new joy in the freedom of Christ right now, but feel that instead of being wholly in tune with the fruits of the Spirit, I am so entirely full of judgement, hatred, and sin. BUT I am certain that God is revealing this to me so that I know this new-found joy is not of me, it is entirely of Him. I have no glory in it--it is not because I am doing more, I am actually failing more. It is because He loves me, and He wants me to be free in him. He hates how much I love my own glory, schedule, comfort, and abilities.
I am falling on my face every hour of the day right now, embarrassed of who I am, insecure in who I am, and hating my sin. But He is teaching me that He is my security, and when I'm embarrassed about my sin, how it affects and wounds others, and how I am constantly screwing up, He is teaching me and letting me rest in His never-ending love. He is there all the time--when I gossip and am embarrassed because it hurts others, when I am jealous and bitter, when friends betray me, and when I care more about myself than my husband. He is the only reason any of this can change, and He is the only reason a messy marriage, mundane diaper changing, and wounded friendships can be changed to a beautiful love story, guiding and giving security to a covenant baby, and loyal, comforting camaraderie.