Wednesday, March 12, 2014

But God: Confessions of a bad Christian

Oh, how I have missed this space... this space where I come to take stock of what is real. The space where I come to remember the abundant joy that is breathed over me. The space I come to see how in the God who lives, "steadfast love and faithfulness meet: righteousness and peace kiss each other" (Psalm 85).

But the absence from this place has been necessary. I write of brokenness and redemption... of wounding and healing. I write to seek out joy, for the JOY of the LORD is my strength!  I write because I want to remember the tender embrace of the Healer as He dresses my wounds. In recent months however, His focus has shifted. The grief of death has been covered... it still aches, but it doesn't weep so much anymore.

In months gone by, He has turned His attention toward those wounds that I didn't want Him to touch. The wounds that were never properly tended, but have been covered only by time. These are wounds that run deep because they were not acquired, but rather inherited. Wounds of insecurity passed on from generations ago. It is these wounds that can be the most disfiguring. These are the wounds that augment your identity and condemn you with shame and rejection. They are the wounds that affect relationships. These are the wounds that have become infected with sin and are painful to touch. If I am honest, these are the wounds that I believed He could not heal...

These are the congenital wounds of the heart which have shaped my identity and how I fit into this world. These are the wounds that have defined who I have become.

As a child, I learned to walk with disjointed hips. I did learn to walk, but my stride is not perfect. My gate is uneven. For the most part you probably would not notice this injury. But when I am weary and the weather is bad, this injury aches and my limp is more obvious. And when my body aches, I become more weary... and slowly this wound bleeds into every part of my life. I'm frustrated and snappy. I don't want to be touched. And if someone presses in on my injury, even by mistake, I push back. Sometimes I push hard because I can no longer tolerate the pain. So it is with wounding of the heart.

So with wounded body and wounded soul I limp along my merry way. I have tried, LORD knows, I have tried to put my best foot forward. But on my own I stumble and fall. There are pains in this life that are too much to bear.

There are wounds that I have refused to acknowledge for fear that revealing them will lead to rejection. "If you dwell in your hurt, you are a bad Christian. You just need to forgive and forget!"

I am a bad "Christian", that person was right. There are some things I simply cannot do. There are some pains that I simply can no longer bear. I can forgive the negligence that exacerbated my hip injury. But I cannot forget the pain. This wound is not healed and I feel that truth even as I sit and type. I can forgive those things that have scarred both heart and relationships. But I am not the one who is able to heal.

If Christianity means learning the rules so that I can heal myself, then I am not cut out for this religion. If healing comes only from my 'doing better', then healing is only a distant dream. I am too weak from living out of my wounds and this gives sin a beautiful platform. I do not profess to be a Christian because that makes me a 'good' person. I am a Christian because I know that my Redeemer lives and He alone is the One who can heal. It is this Redeemer who calls me to Himself to live from His loving grace, not to earn His love and grace.

"The Bible confronts us with a hard-to-accept reality: The change most needed in our lives isn't change in our situations and relationships, but in us. The thing God is most intent on rescuing us from is ourselves."
-Tim Lane (How People Change)

I have never been more convinced that I am not able to be the hero of my own story. But God is. He is the One who is tending to my wounds and making all things new. These are the words that echo through my mind as I step outside of myself and take stock of what is real...
"but God..."
Over the coming weeks I am going to follow these life-breathing words through the Bible and take courage from the many others who have penned down their own 'but God' moments. This is the joy I seek through my wounds...

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73)