Matthew 5:4 (NIV)
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
I haven’t written much lately. I’ve had a lot of seeing and listening and saying to do in my life. When I stepped out onto the waters of writing and sharing my life, I determined not to write unless I felt like He was planting the idea in my heart…unless He was leading. No doubt in the two plus years I’ve been at this blog I’ve missed the mark at times. Wrote something the wrong way. Revealed too much. Needed a further tweak in my perspective and so on. Actually, I am okay with that. My idea of living and doing is not perfection. If it has to be perfect I might as well stop now. But it doesn’t. So I won’t.
So, as I am challenged, as I keep looking over what seems like the scattered pieces of me, I hold tightly to His voice when He speaks. Let His Word soak into the crumbly, hard-baked places of “why” and “what” in my heart. Having “tasted and seen” the goodness of the Lord…having lived daily in the nearness of Jesus…been nothing more than a woman overcome with gratitude offering up my hands and heart and living in the sloppy overflow of His joy, peace and stability, I will never be soul-satisfied with less. He ruined me. In the best of ways.
This morning I sit at my kitchen table with my sweet baby Leighton beside me in her high-chair and having pieces of banana. Looking over at me with the biggest, bluest eyes ever. Chewing on the bib she refuses to leave in place. Oh, but that’s it, isn’t it? Place. Where is mine? Where is yours?
The verse above caught my heart this past weekend. My heart stilled on this idea of the “what” and the “who” seen in The Message paraphrase. See, when the most “dear” in my life is a what, instead of a Who, I am bound and tangled in a web of frustration and grasping. The deeper truth which can be so hard to see, like looking directly at the sun, is that sometimes the “what” is a good thing: spouse, friendship, children, ministry role, talent, service to others or even a “calling” from God. But when the what becomes or remains most dear, no matter how good it is, the smoke signals begin to go up. Alarm bells begin to ring. Yet we hold even tighter to these things for the way they attempt to meet our deepest needs. Like looking directly into the brightness of the sun, we shield our eyes and turn away. We refuse to look into the uncomfortable and sometimes painful things seen in the Light of Truth.
(Pause. Blue Eyes letting me know she wants more banana. Smile.)
Sadly, many of us will live our entire lives loving God and wanting to know Him but tangled in the frustration of embracing the what instead of being embraced by the Who. Oh, I am on this journey myself. No one “arrives” and gets it all nailed down just so. Even when you learn to live Who-Embraced testing can and will come. Some of us will read testing and red flags will start blowing in the winds of our hearts. We recoil at the idea God would let it rain on our sunny picnic living in order to test us. And yet in the ugly word of testing we find bittersweet discoveries of who we really are. Who Jesus really is to us.
I can sing songs in church about how God is more than enough for me, but how do I know unless He allows (and leads me even) into seasons of stripping away my most dear whats? How can I ever really grow and know the truth of joy and peace and stability in even uncomfortable circumstances unless I experience uncomfortable circumstances? How will I ever fully know that indeed my place is in God unless what I perceive as my place in life is shaken up a bit?
We very easily identify our worth, security and “place” in life through our most dear whats. Those things I mentioned above and whatever else applies. They might be good, or start out good, but when they become our identity and the place we go to for filling needs only God can meet, they become something not good. Ready?
Idols. They become idols.
We cling to them for approval, validation, a sense of identity and security. We live life embracing the what instead of being embraced by the Who. And mostly we don’t want to hear it. Might refuse to address it. For some reason we want to keep doing the heart-twisting work of maintaining our idols instead of letting go and stepping into the arms of Jesus. The Author. The Perfector. The Finisher. The true beginning and end to all that we are.
Every need for stability, purpose, worth and unconditional love is absolutely meant to be met in His arms. Can I tell you how many mornings I have sat at this table over the past many months reaching out to Him only to grab at what I so long for…His nearness. And yet the truth, so bright like that noonday sun, is that I can’t grasp and grab at Creator. And I certainly can’t hold onto my idol with one hand while grabbing at Him with the other. Is He really more than enough? Will He really meet my needs? All of them…I mean the deepest ones that drive me to many other places and “dear whats” in life?
I believe He will. And I believe it’s like a dance. Jesus can fill me and meet my deepest needs as I step into His arms. As I stop waving frantically at God because I’m not sure He will stop for me, as I stop hiding the idols of position, spouse, talents, ministry roles and approval behind my back. As I face the Son at high-noon, I find a hand, nail-scarred, outstretched. I take His hand. He lifts my other onto a shoulder that bore the weight of my sin on a cross. In those moments I let go of my most dear whats. They lose the power to give and take away from my soul. They slip from my hands and heart as I lose myself in the dance. As I am fully embraced.
Only then will I begin to learn the true measure of the words I sing at church. The words I speak to others. The words I write.