He leaves us to stand up on our own legs – to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that we are growing into the sort of creature He wants us to be. – The Screwtape Letters; C.S. Lewis
We have a God who is so good and so loving that He cares even about our smallest successes.
When we’re stuck in the valley and life feels like such a let down, we MUST remember that God is using this season. He is growing us. And if there is ONE thing I’ve learned over the past year, it’s that God uses the everyday, mundane life to make us into the “little-Christ’s” we were originally created to be. The beauty and wonder of our Lord, though, is that He is there cheering us on; even when we falter and fall, He is satisfied with our staggering. What a Savior we have.
He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles. – The Screwtape Letters; C.S. Lewis
Talks with friends are wonderful. Especially when they involve good books. Talking about the classics to a friend a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I had never read Frankenstein. And apparently, I needed to remedy that ASAP. So a week ago I went and bought a secondhand copy of Frankenstein and started reading…
– Two things I’ve been learning –
1) The best books are those that have hidden, deeper meanings under the surface.
Frankenstein is FILLED to the brim with hidden meanings and statements that make you think, and think hard. Thoughts such as this: “Alas! Victor, when falsehood can look so like the truth, who can assure themselves of certain happiness?” Think that one over why don’t ya!
2) The joy of reading is in the actual reading, not in just finding out what happens.
This has been a hard lesson to learn. Due to school and just the way I’ve had to read books over the past few years, I haven’t sat down to enjoy a well-written novel in a very long time. It’s so easy to get caught up in the story and eagerly look forward to the resolution, all the while, missing the beauty of the words flowing into paragraphs and pages. Reading Frankenstein has reminded me that there is beauty in just enjoying the words on the page and how the story is pieced together in sentences and paragraphs.
The reason I’m sharing all this is because I see a parallel to the Bible and Christian life in those two points.
The Bible is meant to have deeper meaning than the words on the page. Don’t get so caught up in the story that you miss the purpose behind the parable.
The Christian is meant to live life enjoying the moments, not worrying about what happens next. I know I get so caught up in worry that I often lose sight of the joy I could be having in the moment I am given right here. But God wants us to live HERE. He wants us to enjoy the life and reality He’s blessed us with. Don’t get swept away in worrying and stressing about what might happen next. Let the story unfold and enjoy the journey.
“For nothing contributes so much to tranquilize the mind as a steady purpose – a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.” – Frankenstein; Mary Shelley
An active Christian worker too often lives to be seen by others, while it is the innermost, personal area that reveals the power of a person’s life. – Oswald Chambers; My Utmost for His Highest
Isn’t it almost everyone’s hope that their life will impact others?? I know it’s true for me. Everyday, I hope that certain actions I take, the things I say, the encouragement I give, will have a positive impact on the people around me.
But I know that it doesn’t always happen.
Chambers hits it on the head, too. We Christians so often live our lives so that what we do will be seen, so that it will impact others, and there is NOTHING wrong with that! Nevertheless, the true impact we have on others comes from within. If we do not have the personal, inner strength and foundations to act upon, then our external life will never truly impact people in a lasting way.
The power of a person’s life comes from within.
Let’s cultivate our inner, personal lives! Because I don’t know about you, but I want my life to impact others. And I want the power of my life to come from within.
What are You then, my God? What, but the Lord God? Most highest, most good, most potent, most omnipotent. Most merciful, yet most just. Most hidden, yet most present. Most beautiful, yet most strong. Stable, yet incomprehensible. Unchangeable, yet all-changing. Never new, never old. All renewing, and bringing age upon the proud and they know it not. Ever working, ever at rest. Still gathering, yet needing nothing. Supporting, filling, and over-spreading. Creating, nourishing, and maturing. Seeking, yet having all things. You love, yet without passion; are jealous, without anxiety; repent, yet grieve not; are angry, yet serene; change Your works, Your purpose unchanged. Receive again what You found, yet did not ever lose. Never in need, yet rejoicing in gains. You receive over and above, that You may own; and who has anything that is not Yours? You pay debts, owing nothing; settle debts, losing nothing. And what have I now said, my God, my life, my holy joy? Or what saith any man when he speaks of You?
- The Confessions of Saint Augustine; book 1, chap 4
Our God is a PARADOX.
He is and He isn’t and there is no way to wrap our minds around it.
But thank the Lord He is what He is. He is bigger and greater and better than all we could ask or imagine.
Thank you, Jehovah, for being THE greatest paradox.
“Too late have I loved You, O Beauty so ancient and so new, too late have I loved You! Behold You were within me, while I was outside: it was there that I sought You, a deformed creature, rushed headlong upon these things of beauty which You have made. You were with me, but I was not with You. They kept me far from you, those fair things which, if they were not in You, would not exist at all. You called and shouted and burst through my deafness. You flashed and shone and scattered my blindness. You breathed Your fragrance on me, and I drew in a breath and pant for You. I tasted, and hunger and thirst. You touched me, and I burned for Your peace.” – Saint Augustine; Confessions book 10, chapter 38
In this excerpt, Augustine is lamenting the years he wasted chasing after sin and the desires of the flesh. As he says, they wouldn’t even be here if God had not made them! Yet Augustine continues crying out, declaring that he has loved God too late.
Shouldn’t this be my heart’s cry as well?
For myself, it is true. I am a deformed creature, a fallen human who chases after the things of this world and so often forgets the One who made them for my pleasure. Have I loved you too late, Yahweh?
Look again at what Augustine says. Jehovah comes in and BREAKS THROUGH. He comes in and TEARS DOWN MY DEFENSES. He turns me from the evil I have done and He washes over me. He breathes on me and I desire more of Him.
You have touched me, Adonai, and I burn for Your peace.
Sunday’s teaching at church was all about how being a disciple is to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus. Denying yourself means to die to self. I’ve been mulling over this idea of dying to self a lot in the past few days.
As I’ve said before, Christianity is an everyday battle. There is no relief as you fight against flesh. And every second of every day you have to die to yourself in order to let God work in you. You get easily wearied. And there is more than you can possibly imagine that you have to die to self about in this life. Not just the big things, but the little, everyday frustrations.
Being a follower of Christ means dying to self in the simple, little things of life too. Like when my younger brother asks me not to fold the pages in his new book… Unfortunately, it takes all of me to say no to my desire to argue and fold the pages just to annoy/upset him. To be honest, it’s terrifying how easy it is to just let my sinful nature take over and do the things I want. My spirit is willing, but my flesh is so very weak.
I am thankful for a God who promises to give us our daily bread, DAILY. He will give me the strength to fight against my flesh desires. Today I will last and I will overcome. And in the end, I am victorious, because my God reigns in victory.
Today has been a hard day.
Nothing necessarily bad has happened. It’s just been a regular old day, nothing special or particularly difficult. But it’s been rough; heavy on my spirit.
So after coming home from a day of work and Bible study and doing all day, I spent some time just BEING with my Savior. It’s amazing how truly refreshing that can be, just resting in His presence. And as I did this, I learned something, a lesson that I feel has been kind of skipped over in teaching Christianity…
Christianity is an every day battle. It NEVER stops.
Oswald Chambers puts it this way:
We have seen what we are not, and what God wants us to be, but are we willing to be battered into the shape of the vision to be used by God? The beatings will always come in the most common, everyday ways and through common, everyday people.
I get so lost in the longing and desire to be a little-Christ, a servant and disciple of the Lord, that I sometimes get this unrealistic idea of what it means to be that follower, disciple, and servant. Oftentimes, the common, everyday ways God uses to shape us are the hardest ones. I struggle with discouragement and lies that the enemy throws my way. How am I going to last in the long run if a simple thing like a latte made wrong ruins my attitude? And reading this today really opened my eyes to a question I need to begin asking myself when my soul becomes weary and I feel like I can’t go on.
Am I willing to let God use common, everyday ways to shape my character into who His vision of me is?
Is it worth it??
And for today, I say yes. A million times yes.