My Awefull Life » A Pilgrimage of Wonder

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When on a Monday morning I don’t necessarily want to consider the trial all joy- resolution and peace are more on my breakfast menu. When I am doubting the fire is doing any real refining at all, and I am just burning alive for some sick exercise in futility. When I’m telling God, I don’t see the gold and I’m starting to wonder if there’s any in me to be cultivated.

“I don’t see the gold….”

And He says, “Really? There at the end of your pen, your honest scribbles on pages? You don’t see it- because I Am.”

Peter stepped out onto the sea and walked. He looked away and sank.

Peter denied Jesus in a hurl of angry words, fled and hid. Just days later he leapt from a boat because he couldn’t get to Jesus fast enough, he couldn’t stand to be separated. A handful of years later Peter’s own humble pen wrote:

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:6-7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

When on a Monday morning the fire hurts and the world outside bites cold, the trials and tested faith of a man much like myself shine like gold off the page.

Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalem (image taken June 2014)

 

Last night in a conversation with my husband, I was talking to him about recognizing a pattern in my life of when I am not in the healthiest of places- something God had been whispering to me about, but I hadn’t called it forth for what it is. In short, I explained how in times of unrest or weariness of circumstance, I start receiving every message life sends me through a screen of, “you are bad.” 

Now, I know this is garbage. I am 39 years old; I have walked with Jesus since I was the age my youngest child is now- I have experienced Him as a faithful friend, binder up of hurts, and Savior from my propensity for sin. And yet, when I am in a place of earthly vulnerability, I forget. I forget and I disbelieve.

Then, this morning on the early drive back home from my kids’ school, we talked about this pattern- Jesus and me. I asked for all I knew how to ask for and pulled into the driveway, poured a cup of coffee and opened my morning books. There in part, I read from a devotional the following:

“The problem, sadly, is that many of us live in a constant, or at least a rather regular, state of identity amnesia. We forget who we are, and when we do, we begin to give way to doubt, fear, and timidity. Identity amnesia makes you feel poor when in fact you are rich. It makes you feel foolish when in fact you are in a personal relationship with the One who is wisdom. It makes you feel unable when in fact you have been blessed with strength. It makes you feel alone when in fact, since the Spirit  lives inside of you, it is impossible for you to be alone. You feel unloved when in fact, as a child of the Heavenly Father, you have been graced with eternal love. You feel like you don’t measure up when in fact the Savior measured up in your behalf. Identity amnesia sucks the life out of your Christianity in the right here, right now moment in which all of us live.”Paul David Tripp

I forget and I disbelieve, and in my amnesia of my redemption, I call myself bad and cast off. But God doesn’t name me as such, and beckons me out from behind any skewed screen or filter. He takes my bumbling, sleepy-eyed prayers and hands me back validation and kind correction-

the point where you allow things to go bad is by naming yourself ‘bad.’

I asked my friend for help, and He showed up- almost immediately. And no, my trouble doesn’t just disappear. This pattern of my flesh and mind, I imagine, will aim to surface again and again. But again and again I will pray, talk to Jesus with whatever frail words I can offer and trust He will answer with manna for the day. So often the only manna needed is to know He is with me, my Immanuel. It is the conversation along the broken road that keeps me upright and moving forward. In my surrender and willingness to be real- laid open before God- I am pulled closer into the Cross. And in close, I see clearer all Jesus did for me. In the expanse of my weakness, I come to know His strength more personally, because I see my need in a deeper way. The fullness of this personal truth falls as tears of gratitude across my keyboard.  

To be transparent, I started writing a couple of hours ago with one intention – to understand what God was saying to me about my personal situation. And then somewhere around the second paragraph, the whole thing took an unforeseen road. Perhaps, this week leading to Friday- remembering Jesus going to the Cross, and putting to death the bad I keep trying to call myself – are rerouting my words’ purpose. When I pray for divine intentionality with what I write and share, detours have to be expected. Maybe it meets you where you are today, to read how I wrestle and struggle even after more than 30 years of walking with Jesus. Or maybe it does the opposite and you find yourself wanting to look away. I get that. Still, in all humility I hope it’s the former. Inviting you into my mess can never be about idolizing the mess, but rather only done to encourage you to see your own for what it is, and more so to come to know personally your great mess cleaner-upper, Jesus. This is a long pilgrimage we find ourselves on- and the more honest we can be about the travel conditions, the fuller we will experience the nearness of Home. Friend, please hear this: you are counted and chosen and seen. If you have questions about inviting Jesus to walk with you through this life, as he does with me, I would be so happy to talk with you. Please reach out in full confidence that we are fellow sojourners, messy and broken, but called good and redeemed.

 

  • Valerie Murray - I often get spiritual amnesia as well. How often we forget who we are in Christ. I love the picture you shared overlooking Jerusalem. I’m so thankful that God consistently reminds us how great His love is for us. Blessings and Happy Easter!ReplyCancel

  • Heather Bock - I struggle with this, too, especially after I’ve totally failed. This is a good reminder of where I need to focus–on His strength.ReplyCancel

  • Lindsey - Great post! I, too, can develop spiritual amnesia.ReplyCancel


“Most of the things we need to be fully alive never come in busyness. They grow in rest.” – Mark Buchanan//

The moments of the rushed and the hectic steal from under their guise of efficiency and worth. All the while pockets of life, bursts of wind for tattered sails, are overlooked and missed altogether in my whirlwind of haste. 

Life with a capital “L” is where it’s always been- waiting patiently for my return- with hopes maybe this round I’ll stay in close a little longer. 

The keys of sabbath, waking me alive today look like pink clouds at sunrise; words of honey from a friend last night leaving their sweet stickiness across my soul still today; the promise of a Saturday with my people, the promise of rest. In the slowing, I see a larger landscape and isn’t it the whole picture I long to discover and know intimately? 

Friend, what would awaken you to feel more fully alive today? 

May you find rest, and may it bring you to new life. 

Where do you go when needing to be reminded of who you are, and whose you are?

For several years, I have continuously been drawn to the prophet Jeremiah. His call, his painful wrestle to walk it out, his rawness before the One who called him- I revisit his portion of pages in my favorite Book often. This morning I awoke early and restless, as if my soul’s desperation for a comforting word propelled my physical body from sleep. I put on some music and returned again to the trials of Jeremiah, retracing steps taken countless times before. Circling around words in efforts to pin them down for a closer look- a fresh perspective- I read and read again, Jeremiah chapter 20, Lamentations chapter 3… It doesn’t take much time with said prophet to surmise a life lived of painful obedience, physically, but also very much emotionally. And with pain comes doubt- doubt in our calling, maybe even doubt in our Caller.

So why am I here- why these pages, Lord, why this weeping prophet? I’m seeking clarity, not more doubt.

Immediately a thought I love from Benjamin Franklin runs through my mind- Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.

Okay, God. Okay. Help me learn. Make it clear, and give me resolve when it’s not. Help me see what carried Jeremiah through. Thank you for loving and using him and all the uncertainty, questioning and anger over the pain that came with him. And thank you for ensuring Jeremiah’s earthly struggles and devotion to You were recorded on parchment so all these generations later, I may know a friend.

//
“The clarities of faith are organic
and personal, not mechanical and institutional. Faith invades the muddle; it does not eliminate it. Peace develops in the midst of chaos. Harmony is achieved slowly, quietly, unobtrusively-like the effects of salt and light. Such clarities result from a courageous commitment to God, not from controlling or being controlled by others. Such clarities come from adventuring deep into the mysteries of God’s will and love, not by cautiously managing and moralizing in ways that minimize risk and guarantee self-importance.
These clarities can only be experienced in acts of faith and only recognized with the eyes of faith. Jeremiah’s life was brilliantly supplied with such clarities, but they were always surrounded by hopeless disarray. Sometimes devout and sometimes despairing, Jeremiah doubted himself and God. But these internal agonies never seemed to have interfered with his vocation and his commitment. He argued with God but he did not abandon him.” – Eugene Peterson, Run With the Horses