Last year around this time my life took a turn. As I have shared many times, I have been a Christian since I was little and except for a few years in my early twenties, a consistent church-attender. I loved the Lord but was pretty much in a pit for all of my twenties and the first couple of years into my thirties. Yes, I was going to church, loving God, wanting to be a good Christian, wanting to change…and remaining in a pit. Even now as I sit at my kitchen table thinking about it I take a deep breath and sigh. I was lost. I knew my salvation was secure but knowing who God made me to be, His purposes for my life, finding my worth in His love, learning to set healthy boundaries, becoming a life-giving mother, a spouse-honoring wife, a healed and whole woman with stable emotions was lost to me. There were good times and I had much to be thankful for, no doubt. God was still able to use me to an extent in the lives of others but I lacked true contentment…fulfillment. And then…
God began to pull me out of the pit. Looking back a year later I must say that my pit was in fact my pit. For a long time I believed that I was waiting on other people in my life to change and get out of my way so I could climb out. For a period of time, at least in my mind, certain people and events from my childhood and adult life had their own little living area in my pit. They helped to put me there so they would certainly get credit due them. Yes, I was the victim. And you know what? In some ways I was a victim…I suffered through some challenging times related to the choices and behavior of people in my life. But who doesn’t? In my twenties dwelling on the rejection in my childhood or the brokenness of my family structure was my banner. There were valid reasons that I was the person I was…real issues that were causing problems in my marriage that resulted from things I could not control from my growing up years.
If there was one thing that brought me back into fellowship with God when I was 25, one thing that has been my life-line in all of the painful times of a difficult marriage, the one thing that I cannot do without, one thing that has brought more healing and peace to my emotions, it would be the presence of God. I can’t say that would be the case for everyone. God makes each of us differently and speaks to our hearts in ways we will hear. For me, actually feeling God’s presence has meant everything. Sensing the love of God wash over me as I worship Him has been my hand in His, the gentle touch of my Father wiping tears from my face, the strong arm of my Savior and best friend around my shoulder encouraging me to press on. Being near to Jesus is everything. I was drawing close on Sunday mornings and in His grace and mercy He let me, but I was missing it every other day of the week and so I remained in my pit.
Sure, I tried. I loved God so I tried. But last fall, as I once again discovered I was full of pride, I threw my hands up. So tired of trying to be and change and staying the same vaguely dissatisfied and judgmental person. I wasn’t a complete loss. But that can be some of the most miserable kind of living. On the fence living. But make no mistake, no matter how much you grow in Christ there will always be a fence. Your fence might start out “in church or out?” It might be “sex outside marriage or saving myself?” It might be “gossip or keeping my mouth shut?” In time the fence will be “tithe and be a giver with my finances or just take care of my own needs?” On and on it goes…as we grow in knowing Him the fence remains…a choice to be made…
Once we just surrender, give up “fixing” ourselves, and He is able to pull us out of the pit we spend a while just amazed and in awe. I personally still can’t get over how God is touching my life, but now I have discovered a new fence. See, when life is hard or you lack peace and purpose you (hopefully) find yourself driven to your knees. Realizing your healing is found in close proximity to the Savior drives you to get as close as you can! What happens as He heals us? What happens as we finally shake the dirt off from our pit and see the wonderful world of blessing and purpose He has waiting for us?
The new fence. Once we are out of the pit do we “continue to vigorously pursue the presence and voice of God or settle into a comfortable box of satisfaction?” Check this out:
Matthew 7: 14 (the message) The way to life — to God! — is vigorous and requires total attention.
I have never been here before. I told God this morning I am in the dark! Once you sense God’s healing in your life, once you taste stability and wholeness, how do you avoid landing yourself inside the box of satisfaction? Because in time that is the fence…will I continue to desperately pursue Him now just for knowing Him? Of course I will still have challenges and my own faults and weaknesses to deal with, but now that He has “set my feet on a rock” will I drift into a place of satisfaction with myself? My works? My progress? Will I be delivered from the pit only to settle into a box that turns out to be quite ordinary?
I have no idea how God will do it, except that He will. For one thing, He has a way of showing me, letting it show up in my life in some form or fashion, when I begin to drift over toward the box. The box could be comfortable except I have tasted the freedom to be had in vigorously pursuing God. And so I prayed this morning, Lord don’t let me lose that taste in my mouth. Don’t let me make my bed in a box of “nice Christian woman with nice Christian family.” I don’t want to make my bed in “nice Christian volunteer” or even “talented Christian woman with a blog.” You know why? Because volunteering at church or writing this blog does not make me a more patient and gentle mother. It doesn’t produce life in me. It’s only knowing Him, vigorously seeking His face, that frees me from conforming to any set of expectations or Christian box-living. Only Jesus Himself produces life in me.