I have spent the last week or more in intensive care with God. It feels like He did exploratory surgery, dumping my insides out on the surgical gurney while He rooted around and found what He was looking for, and then packed it all back up again. I felt emotionally and spiritually nauseous. And during the time that my insides were spread all over, He did not require me to show it all to the world. Thank goodness.
First, let me remind you that I am still very much in process. The process is not completed, although my insides are safely tucked back in, now rearranged, or re-attached, perhaps, in ways that needed it. Learning to live this new way will take time, will have its ups and downs and still has much to teach me. All I can tell you today is what I know today, and that next week I hope to understand it better and a year from now I expect to see the fruit of all of this. There are many small things He does in me continually, but this was foundational.
I know better why the Cavern of Sorrow still exists within me. It was not for lack of working it through with God, or grieving losses, not resentment or bitterness or unforgiveness. It was not self-pity or low-grade depression or hopelessness. And no, I absolutely could NOT fix it myself. It was the great divide: who I am was separated from what I do in relationship to people. This same divide was completely healed in me in relationship to God some time ago. Let me start there so that I can explain this new process the best way I know how.
The theme of being and doing has been a consistent theme in my walk with God for the last ten years or so. If you’ve heard me teach or read my blogs, you will know that something astonishing occurred in my life in the springtime of 2003: I came to actually believe that God loves me, really loves me. Yet I had accepted His salvation as a very little girl. My head knew He loved me (He is, after all, bound to His own Word), but my heart could not access that love, not one drop. I was starving for it and if you knew me then you could see it even if you didn’t know its name. I was desperate for something from Him, yet He was clearly with me. There was a powerful wall between my heart and His love, a wall I believed existed because I was fundamentally unlovable, so thoroughly flawed that I could be of no real use to Him, that I was a disappointment to Him, that I was irredeemably damaged. I justified this through the only view I had: I knew God’s righteous standard and I knew I did not meet it. Therefore He was bound to offer me nothing more than soul-salvation, entrance into heaven when I died, nothing of His effervescent life while I still walked this planet. After having shattered me to my core the year before and after pushing me past the point I thought I could bear, He showed me that I could never meet His righteous standards and that He never expected me to: Jesus Christ had met it for me and I was free! I was free to live in His love, acceptance and favor although I could NEVER become worthy of it. It was not about my being worthy enough; it was about what Christ had done for me. And when I got it, when I really got it for myself, who I am was transformed. Not from a demoralized sinner into a pious zealot, but from a desperate, broken soul into a girl full of God’s love and God’s life – filled with a passionate message of hope to whoever would listen.
When I found the freedom to be who I am with Him, without shame and regret and humiliation, to just be who He created me to be, then doing became a tidal wave of joy that rushed out from my being. I served because I could do no other: I was thrilled with His love and His impossibly great goodness. Since 2003, what I do for Him surges forth from who I am with Him.
Since then I have tried to fulfill whatever assignment He has given me, but I do it for the joy of being with Him, not for the joy of people’s approval. I just love being with Him, in the privacy of our time every morning, in serving the people He asks me to, in the joy of just knowing He loves me. Last year He brought me to the place of knowing that if He never invited me to serve Him in any public capacity again, if He never gave me any assignment beyond cups of cold water and washing dusty feet, that I could still live with tremendous joy in His presence. Serving Him is not just my response to His love for me nor is it just something I do to show my love for Him. Serving Him is a privilege, a privilege He has the right to revoke. You see, every assignment is a gift from Him, not my right. Every single assignment, no matter how small or how great, was a gift from Him to me, not the other way around. I have absolutely nothing to offer Him that He has not first given to me – nothing! How preposterous to think that any of it is ours. No, His every assignment was a generous gift to me, one I’d never be worthy of, one I’d never be adequate for, and one I could take no credit for in any way from start to finish. Serving was more like surrendering what was already His back into whatever form and function He should desire. I have no right to serve the great God of this universe. Yet He allows it. I surrendered my desire to serve Him and desired only to please Him – and to allow Him to determine what would please Him, serving or not serving. All of it is a gift to me.
Which brings me to the great divide that He has revealed to me recently: the divide between who I am and what I do in relationship to people. I have been free in this area with Him, but have still been bound in the ways in which I relate to people. I’ve known about it for a long time but could do nothing to bridge the divide. My head knew the right answers, but my heart could not cross over. If sheer will alone could have done it, believe me, I’d have done it by now. But I could not fix this part of myself. There is a part of us that relates to God and a part of us that relates to people. In the best of situations, those two are seamlessly connected, I suppose. I am not completely there yet. But I do know this: I am better arranged now regarding the way I relate to people. This is where He performed soul surgery and next post (in the editing phase, so hopefully published tomorrow), I’ll explain to you what I learned.