Paradox of Full: When We Think We Are, We Aren’t

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I recently read a blog that contained an excerpt of The Heidelberg Confession. I had to pause for reflection as I read:

“Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong – body and soul, in life and in death – to my faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.”

What is my only comfort in life and in death? I can with all assurance say that I believe the answer above is my confession. But my life experience will show that I have not experienced the truth of those words. Not here, not now. I believe there is a future day when I will be with Christ and my fullness in Him will be realized. But can I experience that fullness now? Can you experience that fullness now? Perhaps. But our potential is blocked by the madness of sin in our lives. The sins that have been committed against us and the sins we have committed against ourselves and others. And these sins, at times, confuse the signals in our brains and cause us to feel empty when we really aren’t. I over-eat to compensate for my emptiness. While I have never been morbidly obese, the eating behavior is still present. It is hard-wired in my brain and tells me that eating is a pleasurable activity and I can feel full any time I want. Of course this is not true and many other people would attest to that, because we have to keep eating more and more. So, what is happening here is at the root of desire.

Every living thing on the planet has been given the gift of desire. Desires drive us toward fulfillment. We desire to be full or to be filled. We are motivated to seek fulfillment over and over. Why? Because we also experience emptiness. When we are empty we look for something to fill us again. We don’t like the feeling of emptiness, so we seek to be filled. This is good desire.

While our desires are common,( need for food, water, intimacy, etc) the expression of those desires (what we desire, where we desire, and with whom we desire) are as varied as each individual. Our past experiences, our culture and our families, in many ways, shape the expression of our desires. While the desires themselves have been declared by God to be “good,” sin and suffering has affected every part of our being as humans and that includes our desires.

The paradox is this: We attain to be filled here and now, and while we can have some fulfillment we can’t have it all. Everytime we engage in eating or sexual relations, sports, recreational activities, building our families, worshiping God (collectively or individually), we have to keep coming back to be filled and filled again. Because we get empty. We don’t like empty. And this is especially true of people who have been abused or are experiencing abuse of some kind.That is because their brain has lost the ability to recognize their own feeling of empty and full. So,some turn to sexual promiscuity, or they develop eating disorders, or eat more than their body can metabolize. They turn to drugs or alcohol to escape the unavoidable emptiness that is so much a part of their life.There is a heightened desire, almost a feeling of desperation to be filled all the time, but they cannot attain it.

Here is the solution: Since we can’t avoid emptiness on this side of heaven, we can choose to be grateful for the feeling of emptiness because it ultimately brings us to the only one who can fill us completely. He fills us with His Spirit for this life He has called us to. Everytime we feel empty we are reminded that we are totally dependent on God for our food, for our health and for our joy in living. Yes,on earth, we need to be filled over and over again. Because we belong to God and He has given every provision for us to come to Him for filling, we can know that in Heaven we will be filled with Himself and we will have no need for any other fulfillment. He is the Bread of Life, the Living Water and the Door by which we will enter into an eternity of riches that have been promised to anyone who is acquainted with physical and emotional hunger in this life. There will be no more cravings or hunger of any kind.

I want to leave my emptiness behind me. I want to be filled by the Spirit of the living God. I can give myself wholly to the Christ who emptied Himself so that I could receive His fullness. The Heidelberg confession lets us realize this dependence on the finished work of Christ, for our fulfillment now, and at the time of our death when we are finally emptied of this body that we carry on earth. Come with me on this journey, together we will discover the endless provisions of an Almighty God!

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Indecision (aka: Coming or Going?)

I am back from taking a break from blogging. Some of you expressed concern over my absence. Trust me, it was noticed and appreciated. I have gone through some times of depression as well as times of stability. I needed to step back from blogging to make sure it wasn’t becoming a “high” for me that I would become addicted to. Uncertainty

Indecision is a good description of my primary feeling as the year 2013 wraps up and the year 2014 looms ahead. There is always uncertainty regarding the future because I do not have a mind that can look into it. While the experiences of this past year have shaped me somewhat for the coming year, there is also much of the past year I would as soon leave behind. There have been times this past year where I have felt the One Who holds my hand. I have wrestled with Him over the uncertainties of this life, and He has held tight when I have wanted to let go. His love is relentless and He wants me more than I want Him.

My hope for 2014 is that whether my mind is clouded by confusion or whether there are times of clarity, I just want to remain aware of the One Who holds my hand.

Am I coming or am I going?

Either/or is what it seems.

Am I being or am I doing?

One or the other, or in between.

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Do I say it, or display it,

when I’m trying to make a point?

Can I take it, or shall I leave it,

when I’m pushed upon and out of joint?

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Do I address with aggression,

or suppress my repression?

The expression of assertion seems so foreign to me. 

How do I say it right? Isn’t this just all about fright?

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How do I relate without fearing?

Stand tall without tearing?

Face others without jeering

like others who seem to know…

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When they are coming and when they are going. 

What they are doing and who they are being.

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They know when to say it and how to display it.

They can take it or they can leave it when pushed out of joint.

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They don’t address with aggression, nor suppress their regression.

They assert what they hurt, and give flight to their fright.

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They relate without fearing and stand tall without tearing.

They face others without jeering, because they know…

Who holds their hand.

A New Attraction

imagesCAM8LWGJI am chewing on a different perspective of the meaning of “attraction.”  I have been assuming all my life that my attractions to both men and women has been a helpless condition that I must bear as either a cross or some form of punishment. Some of these attractions have had a sexual component, and some have not.  Long before I was married, I had the desire to save my sexuality for my husband. In my high school years I had to fight off and dodge the hands and mouths of the teenage boys that tried to devour me. Eventually, the dogs backed off or I sent them packing. I actually made it to my wedding bed a virgin–of sorts. There were still those females in my not so distant past. But I tried to forget the existence of that stain upon my bed.

Now that I am divorced, I have had to look back across those years at both the failure of my marriage and those outside attractions, to find new meaning. I have come so far as to accept that my sexual orientation is bisexual. However, I have decided I am not going to let that define who I am or how I will choose to live the rest of my life. And I am choosing not to view any current or future attractions as a condition I am saddled with even if the world sees it differently. I now see my attractions as an opportunity instead of a curse. I see them as something useful instead of something to be depressed about. I see these attractions as something to explore and embrace, instead of dismiss and dismantle.

What I’m discovering is that attraction is not about me. It is really about Jesus Christ. He was attracted to me long before I was even born and decided the time and place and family into which I would live my life. He planned the time in my life in which He would draw me to Himself so that I could share His attraction for me. And now the focus of my life is to show Jesus Christ to others so that they, too, will be attracted to Him. I love what the Apostle Paul says in Phil. 1: 9-11 in The Message translation:

 “So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.”

I don’t expect this will be easy. I know now that God allowed some very painful things to be a part of my life so that I would need to depend on His grace to meet me in the difficulties and so become more like Him in His own suffering. Through it all, I realize just how desperately I want to know Him and why He chose me to be His own. I want to be so attracted to Christ that He becomes my most glorious obsession.

 

Marred Image

imagesCAV2TKK3Worship at Mars Hill Church in Seattle is never a boring, somber affair. I always feel the Lord’s presence and am acutely aware of my need to come before God in humility and “to worship Him in Spirit and truth.” (John 4:24).

One of the many things I like about the songs we sing at Mars Hill, is that most of them are old hymns that have been put to different music. The original lyrics are beautiful and rich in meaning, and the upbeat music helps create a more vivid image of God’s holiness and love for His creation. I can’t help but think that He is smiling down on us as we all lift our hands and faces to him. Even though I can’t sing worth a darn!

The following poem is one that I wrote about a year ago. It incorporates snippets of the verses of some of those hymns as well as the realization that apart from Jesus Christ, I am unworthy to even call God my Father. My image (as well as the image of every human being) was marred at the fall of all creation, but we are still made in God’s image and because Jesus died and cancelled our debt to God, if we but trust in Him through acknowledgement of our own sin and brokenness, we will one day see that our image will be made perfect and whole before Him. I can’t wait! Lots of symbolism in this one, which made it delightful to write. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Male and female made He them.

Oh! Look at that fruit!

In His own image made he them.

Isn’t it good to eat!

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Jesus, the firstborn among men.

They heard Him walking in the garden.

Now they will die.

Now He will die.

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It’s too late to ‘pologize, it’s too late!

My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me!

Now I lay me down to sleep, my sexual sins I’d like to keep.

Why art thou far from me?

What your hand findeth to do, do it with all your might!

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Oh! Look at that fruit!

Isn’t it good to eat!

Is that a worm in the apple?!

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Behold your redemption draweth nigh!

Grace, grace, God’s grace. Grace that is greater than all our sin!

What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the…Jesus!

Whose is that image in the mirror?

I can’t see a thing. The mirror is stained with…

Is that blood?imagesCA1BS70E