The Pieces of Me

Psalm 18:20a (the message)
God made my life complete
    when I placed all the pieces before him.

This is a verse that always stops me.

This idea of giving Him the pieces of me.

Once in a while it hits me how much of a “grown-up” I am now.  I’m thirty-six with a husband and three children.  There is so much of me in so many sometimes scattered pieces.  Wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister, in-law, volunteer, writer and Jesus follower.  Honestly, on some days I feel washed away.  As if somehow the girl that I was has been swept away in the current of adulthood.  Do you relate?  Why, I’m most certain you do.  Smile.

Yesterday in church something else washed me away.  Gratitude.  I stood beside my husband in worship, holding his hand, and could only lift my other in thanksgiving.  I could only whisper words of praise to Jesus…the One who holds us together…the One who moves us along when things get hard…the One who pours hope into our hopeless hearts…the One who whispers  keep going when the world says just quit.  The One.  The Glue.  Healer.  Strengthener.  Wonder-Worker.  See, I know my marriage should be a statistic.  I know.  And yet, it’s not.

He takes all of my pieces.

Leighton sits nearby playing and babbling.  I pause to watch the crimson trees swaying in my backyard.  My heart begins to burn again.  As crimson as the leaves I see.

I cannot live inside the nice and primly neat confines of our modern christianity.  The way we do it.  The way we often settle.  Church, if we go at all, is enough.  The “sacrifice” of getting up and showing up.  The “sacrifice” of a few left-over dollars in a bucket.  The “sacrifice” of serving in some capacity since we are supposed to be a part of the body of Christ.  Oh, now, aren’t we good Christians?  Can’t we talk the scriptures?  Can’t we promise to pray and share delicate information in the name of prayer?  Don’t we agree whole-heartedly with the message?  Don’t we feel emotional when we sing Amazing Grace?

Don’t we leave just the same as we came in?

I’ve lived that version.  The praying prayers that hit the ceiling and bounce back in my face because there is really no intimacy to carry them to the heart of God.  I’ve told other people what to believe even while I wasn’t completely convinced myself.  I’ve professed joy and peace and life-change all the while living in strife.  Jesus is real and I was His child all along but my experience was largely manufactured.  And I was incomplete.

Oh, the pieces of me.

A few years ago my incomplete and lacking lifestyle finally got the best of me.  All the instruction, the formula, the confessions and posturing.  All of what I should be able to produce if I did it “right.”  Finally I hit the wall of truth:  I could never do it right.  So, I quit trying so hard to say the right things around the right people.  I would even say I grew to care less how I measured up to  those people.  Every day I sat on my porch and just talked to Him…every time I got up and put aside my spiritual how-to agenda for His agenda…every day I chose to be real with Him, myself and others brought a shift.

My pieces began to move.

He moved me all around.  Inside and then outside.  I found my pieces put together in ways I couldn’t ever have conjured up on my own.  Jesus became more than my label or my cause or my vote.  Jesus began to pulse through my veins and arteries.  My lungs filled up with His nearness and I began to exhale something more authentic than I had ever known.

There are pieces of me still dangling in the clouds.  Pieces of me at the bottom of the valley.  Pieces of me scattered along hillsides and rugged mountain terrain.  The story is incomplete.  And yet even in my sometimes washed away, scattered pieces a fire burns deep down.  And so I cannot go back.  I cannot go back to my former manufactured christian living.  Just like before, I crave more.  Not more feelings or more experience.  More revelation.

Last night I started reading a book written by a man who suffered deeply for his faith under Communism.  I’m well aware I live in America and God understands my experience here.  But as I was reading and understanding how I could never really understand, a question blew across my heart.  Do I know Jesus well enough to be so compelled for Him?

It is highly unlikely I will ever suffer the way many Christians do for clinging to Christ.  But do I know Him, do I even care to know Him, in a way that would compel me to cling to Him in such ways?  What if knowing Him this way, clinging to Jesus, is what transforms our mundane and mostly satisfied experience with Creator into something that burns within our souls?  Changes us?  Transposes our supposed sacrifice in church attendance, giving and serving into the rare and beautiful privilege that it is?  What if we find ourselves breathless that we get to know Him rather than resign ourselves duty-bound to know Him?

What if we stop manufacturing and give Him the pieces?

I consider the days and weeks ahead this morning.  I consider the seasons of life and how I am passing from one into another.  Flames begin to lick at my heels, my heart and my mind.  I hear the beginnings of God whispers and know that we are going round the bend.  See, it’s not really about me.

It’s not about my pieces and how I want them arranged.

How uncommon to discover God does not serve my purposes.  I was made to serve His purposes.  As long as I am satisfied with my “sacrifices” and believe I am placating Creator with words and duties that produce only religious pride I will continue with less.  Less than what He means for me to have of Him.  Less than joy.  Less than true peace.  Less than a fire that burns away the excess and reveals His Glory.  Less than complete.

God makes my life complete when I place all the pieces before Him.

All our pieces:  who we are as a spouse, a parent, a boss, an employee, a leader and a servant.  What we do with our talents, our dreams and our failures.  Our deepest needs and desires.  Our secret hopes and fears.  The places we turn for meaning and answers.  Our efforts, even with pure intentions, to cross our spiritual T’s and dot the I’s.

When placed before Him our pieces become our greatest offering.  Only in His hands are we authentic and complete.

 

 

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