Saturday, February 14, 2015

everything. perhaps we should call it The Big Remodel.

Somewhere along my way here, something told me that I had no right to talk about my pain. I started believing I shouldn’t acknowledge or talk about the things that hurt me and the season of death I’m encountering (leaving?), because mine is so ‘easy’. Which, I guess, is true.
In comparison-- ground gets shaky and dangerous once that word enters the picture-- to much of the world, my pain and sorrow is negligible and laughable.
But believing that I have no right to be open about sorrow I experience is just SATAN.

Let me back up.
Over the past three weeks that I've been blog-less, God has been whispering so much I can hardly hold on to one thing long enough to sketch the most vague idea of it down before another wafts my way. Living in a community of God-lovers (which I love so much, don't get me wrong!) is exhausting in times like these because I am CONSTANTLY being asked, "What is God teaching you lately?" and I always want to respond, "EVERYTHING."

He's teaching me to die to self every day, pick up my cross, and follow Him.
He's teaching me to dwell on things of God and not on the things on man. (Romans 8:5)
He's teaching me that losing my life & dreams is the only way to find life & come alive.
He's teaching me how critical it is for me to surround myself with words of Life, people who speak Truth, and music that breathes Hope.
He's teaching me to hide His Word in my heart, and how greatly it affects my desire/lack of desire to sin against Him.
He's teaching me to see people and listen to them, even to things they don't say.
He's teaching me redundancy is okay.
He's teaching me to live a messy life reeking of redemption and splashing on passersby.

He's teaching me to pray.
He's teaching me to cry.
He's teaching me not to hide.
He's teaching me to stop trying to be tough and sassy.

He's teaching me to be honest with myself.
He's teaching me to love myself AND others.
He's teaching me to rely on Him and abide in Him.
He's teaching me to bear fruit.

He's teaching me to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but to humbly consider others better than myself.
He's teaching me to look out for others' interests and heartbreaks.

He's teaching me to stop comparing.
He's teaching me to replace, "How am I better? How am I worse?" with "How can I bless them? What can I learn from them?"

He's teaching me to stay.
He's teaching me to speak.
He's teaching me to be renewed.
He's teaching me to leave shame behind.
He's teaching me how to study a living, breathing Word that reads me even as I read it.

He's teaching me to see His patterns.
He's teaching me to hear His voice.
He's teaching me to read His signs.
He's teaching me to question.
He's teaching me to measure everything I see, say, hear, and do against His Word.

He's teaching me to empty myself.
He's teaching me how to be filled.
He's teaching me what to let fill me.

He's teaching me to be a cathedral.
He's teaching me what it means to be a cathedral.
He's teaching me to say, "OK," through the tears.

He's teaching me love.
He's teaching me to love.
He's teaching me how to love.
He's teaching me how to be Love.

((if you didn't stop and think about at least a few of those, please go back and do so. Let Him whisper to you, too.))

And you know, there are probably more things He's teaching me that I haven't thought to put words to yet. I am, at all times, as constantly as I have ever experienced in my nearly twenty-two years of life, being amazed by Him.

I would love to be able to wrap that in a pretty little box for you and tell you that all the things I am learning and being amazed by are so fun and lovely and painless.

The searing pain of spiritual discipline is deeper than any other pain I have ever known.
It's life-wrecking.

It's the kind of pain that leaves you
sitting in the big chair in your new apartment's living room,
a roommate on either side,
shaking and crying and attempting to breathe,
while the world passes by on the road outside our window
with no knowledge of the revolution going on
in the little girl's heart that lives in that old house.
No matter how hard I try to convey that spiritual pain to you, it's not one you can understand until you've experienced it.

I've said this many times in my recently-passed conversations about the God-things in 2015 so far:

I always thought I knew what self-sacrifice meant until now.
I thought I knew what it meant to undergo spiritual discipline.
I thought I knew what Love was and what Love did and what Love looked like.
I thought I knew what that pain felt like.
But I didn't.
I know now: I never knew. 
I still don't know.
I see a tiny, tiny, beautifully tragic fraction of what it looks and feels like.

When I get to this point in the thought process, I always try to boil it down to one big thing. And right now, it all comes down to this:
be His cathedral.
the commandment of my year. my heart.

I'm still not entirely sure what it means or should look like, but I know this:
without the presence of God in it, a cathedral is just a sad, old building.
The only thing that makes a cathedral beautiful, sacred, and holy is the Shekinah Glory of God- the very presence of the Lord- filling it. **side note: I still don't know or understand enough about Shekinah Glory, but if you know nothing about it, read up on it (a little). 

So my quest then becomes: find the presence of God. figure out how to let Him live in me.
Which is a funny thing, because with all that He's teaching me, He's doing the serious remodeling needed to make my sin-filled, self-inclined human heart a place where He can dwell.
I also know He inhabits the praises of His people; He lives in "our praises, filling up the spaces in between our frailty and everything [He is]." (Restless by Audrey Assad). We have a God who responds when we ask "as I sing to You, in my praises, make Your home!" (Audience of One by Big Daddy Weave).

I find it so beautiful that in Exodus when God outlined for Moses and the Israelites EXACTLY how the Tabernacle was to be designed and set up and consecrated (He spent CHAPTERS doing so!), He had a purpose in it. It was ornate and beautiful and sacred and holy- because it was His dwelling place.
Then, when Christ died, the veil, which separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Tabernacle-- literally the only place where redemption of sins could be found, and the only place where God's spirit could dwell (Exodus 26:33, 30:6)-- was torn in two (Matthew 27:51). There was no more separation.
We got to become His dwelling places. We got to be made holy because His glory could now fill us as it used to fill the Tabernacle (Exodus 40:14).
We got the chance to become His tabernacles, His cathedrals; We got the chance to become inhabited by the Spirit of the Living God as our hearts and minds fill with praise for Him.

What an undeserved blessing.
What glorious newness is there to be found amidst the searing pain of self-sacrifice.

In my learning to study His Word, I have found a new connection with several hearts that fill the Old Testament- one of which is Joseph. Mainly because he cried a lot.
In Genesis 41, shortly after Joseph has risen to a pretty significant position under Pharaoh, we see a little section about Joseph naming his kids. Verses 50-52 say:
"Before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph. Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore them to him. Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. "For," he said, "God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father's house." The name of the second he called Ephraim, "For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction."

Now, I'm obviously not claiming to be on Joseph's level here. But I love finding a treasure like that in an odd place.
I love seeing it and clinging to the truth:
God will make me fruitful in this land of affliction.

{this blog and Becca's current heart-movements inspired by Mark 8, the book of Lamentations, Romans 6-8, and the following albums:
Majestic by Kari Jobe
Cathedrals by Tenth Avenue North
City of Black and White by Mat Kearney}

welcome to midnight.

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