Wednesday, October 20, 2010
I was praying one day- frustrated, exhausted, pleading with God for a magic fix-it potion.The cause- my family relationships. They aren't bad- they definitely don't rival most family relationships across America- but that doesn't make them good. By God's standards they are far from their proper place. So here I stood, washing dishes and pouring out my "Why does so and so do this?" and "Why can't they just do it right, God?" or "God, they can't treat me like that! How am I supposed to keep being nice if they are going to have no respect?!" "God, why can't I just have a chummy relationship with them all!!!". I ranted and I raved. I continued on. And He listened. When I was done and I stood quietly, washing a plate, rinsing a cup. And it came. In the silence He spoke to my heart.
When I was younger I never looked towards the future. All I could think of was "What can I do now?" The farthest I ever looked was three years at the most. And when I looked ahead I didn't see how I would stand with people. All I could see was what I would be doing. Would I be able to drive? What kind of car would I have? Would I be married? (I wanted to be married at 16). Would I be rich? These were the only things I looked to the (near) future for. Never once did I think of what my future relationships would be like. I never saw then the damage done now. Now I look and see, instead, a long road of building, and repairing the little I do have of many and most of my relationships. But really, it's deeper than that. God revealed to me the true root. It wasn't my actions or words, my tone or my choices. While each of those affected my relationships, those were not and are not the root. The root laid in the fact that my walk with my Savior wasn't where it needed to be.
Something that I have not grasped until recently was what a walk with my Savior meant. I was so caught up in thinking that walking with him meant a long list of do's and don'ts and can's and can'ts. I preferred just believing in Him. That's all a saving faith was anyway, right? I was too overwhelmed by my definition of the narrow path, that I gave up. I stopped reading my Bible. I couldn't understand it anyway. I only prayed when I needed something. I could spend all day praying, at any rate. My view point was so wrong. So I played the good girl. My life was a hollographic image- turn it one way and everyone could see my good girl image. I went to church, I carried my Bible around, I sang beautiful, encouraging worship songs, I talked the talk, but when you turned the image the other way... I wasn't walking the walk. The other side reflected... well, what the first side reflected. Me. But in a different light. This was the selfish me. This is where I gave up Bible reading for fiction reading, and I spent my prayer time talking on the phone. This is the side that I wrote only my fiction works, rather than what God was putting on my heart to write. That side... that side was my side.
But God wasn't finished with me. Isn't that the most beautiful thing? Even when I was a hopeless case, He still kept peeling. He peeled away slowly, layer by layer. The bitterness, the stress, the fear, the confusion. He peeled away the sorrow, the pain, the stubborness, and the lies. He worked year, after year, using different people and things. Slowly and gently, but persistently. And finally, a month or so ago, the light broke through. I could see the painful truths that I had been previously blind to. The first being that my definitions of walking with Christ and a saving faith were wrong. Very wrong. Faith and love are not exuberating emotions that must be felt in order to want to do what God asks of you. Faith and love are commitment. It's a commitment to do what God asks no matter what. Even when you don't feel like it. And the end result is always the same. You don't feel like it in the beginning, but you are stronger and full of joy at the end. Never does God leave you empty upon seeking Him. Never. I realized that it's the effort God wants. He wants you to read His word whether you understand or not. He wants to reveal it to you. He's not asking you to read ten chapters a day if you can't. He's asking you to read. One chapter, if that's all you can handle. I realized that praying isn't some religious chant or monotone talk time. It's a conversation. Sometimes one sided, but never alone. Quiet prayer time is good, yes, but God likes to hear you all day. Not just during prayer time. He doesn't mind having His hypothetical ear talked off!
I thought I was good to go. I now knew what walking with Him meant. But it still wasn't the end. (There never really is an end until death). Now He was showing me a new level. Showing me that I was still in the beginning of the road with Him. I needed to start walking. I needed to catch up. And He showed me that until I learned how to love Him- how to love love itself- I couldn't know how to love anyone else. I couldn't show them what I didn't know. He showed me that if I get it right with Him, other things begin to fall into place. It reaches out and touches those daily things. Once I put my focus and attention on the root, once I watered it and carefully tended it, allowing it to grow and multiply, then I could finally begin to see the fruit on the branches. Fruit doesn't grow on dead branches. The branches need to root to be alive and thriving. I was so focused on tending the dead branches of my life I had forgotten to care for my root. For my beginning. My lifeline. My Savior.
It's been a hard lesson to learn. It took 18 years to learn it. I still am only beginning to put it into action. In some areas it may take another 18 years before I reap what I am trying to put into effect now. But God is so good! He is gracious and merciful, loving and kind, He never lets us go! And by His grace, and with His strength, I will continue to grow; continue to walk with my Savior. For it is by grace that we are saved. It's His gift to us. For that I am eternally grateful.