Inside all of us is a desire for beauty. We crave the magnificent view of faraway mountains, the warmth of a crackling fire, the gorgeous sunset over a crystal clear lake. Our hearts yearn for this. We want this to be the norm.
Likewise, we long for family harmony, love and acceptance, inner peace and the absence of strife. We want everyone we love to be happy and whole, never to be harmed or sick, broken or maimed.
In short, we yearn for Eden. We want eternal bliss. We are out of place in this broken world where physical, social, and familial harm beset us. This world as it exists is not our final home. We want all to be made new.
I start here, because my yearning for the perfection that does not yet exist is generally my source of discontent, angst, and questioning.
If you’ve heard my story or attended my workshop, you know about my battle with God in the mid- to late-1990s when we lost it all and calamity rained down on our family. God brought much growth into our lives as a result of those hard years. I am greatly in need of refining, and God is faithful. Since 1997, those trials continue in my own life physically as God refines me in a more personal way.
He knows my flaws so very well, but the areas that need growth and transformation are often blind spots to me. In 1997 I would not have described myself as legalistic, judgmental, arrogant, prideful, or self-reliant. At that time I thought I was the measuring stick of all a good Christian woman should be.
Without boring you with the details of seventeen years of very personal affliction, suffice it to say that each individual thorn and fiery trial has been aimed specifically at those glaring faults listed above, for those faults described me exactly.
God is very good at what he does. When he says he will produce transformation in our lives and bring us to completion, he knows what he’s doing. He knows exactly how to make a self-reliant legalist realize that she has no strength to perfect herself or to obey the Lord. He knows how to bring the prideful low, and thus eradicate judgmental arrogance.
Concurrently, he knows how to use this refining to make me more aware of my lack and need for Christ and to increase my faith and recognition that God truly is all I want and need. He knows how to cause me to fall deeper in love with him as he strips me bare, to make himself so precious as I cling to him in personal loss and growth that I yearn to live my life for him, not for an audience of any type.
The refining of the last three years has been particularly intense. My heart has been agitated as I’ve adapted to the loss of the ability to run (I was once a runner). I’ve struggled with loss of my sense of self as I find myself chronically fatigued after Epstein Barr (I was a Superwoman, workaholic, high-energy task-completer).
I am not what I once was. And I yearn for the beauty of those former things. I miss them. They were me, who I was at my best, or so I thought.
The One who crafted me in the womb, however, knows who I really am. He knows what to strip away to make me into the woman he has always wanted me to be. He knows what lack will make me more aware of his nearness, strength, and absolutely unconditional love for me, even if I now can’t produce as much or run a physical race.
It’s we humans who use people for what they can do for us. Not God.
He will love me even when I find myself broken, unseeing, unable to walk, and with only the ability to lie in my bed and pray. That is unconditional love.
As we grow older, all the beautiful things are stripped away. This makes the eternal home so much more appealing. There beauty will be eternal. Strength will be unwavering. Vistas will be more glorious than we can imagine. And no one will be maimed, broken, or destroyed again. Death will no longer exist. This is what I long for.
Now that I’ve pinpointed the source of my recent agitation, I turn now to thanking the Lord for causing me even more to rely on him. I glimpse more of his passion when I see that his love is not dependent on anything I bring to the table.
How about you? How is the Lord teaching you to depend on him?