Sunday, July 25, 2010
Poor in Spirit
"Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven,"
God's Kingdom is so backwards, and I confess that I don't understand it, Him, me or the world very well from His perspective. This last summer the discipleship school started, and I had the honor of teaching on the Sermon on the Mount. It opened a whole new world for me into the mind of God who calls us away from well-intentioned but useless works under the law and into rest in His grace as we're called to do the impossible of loving our enemies, turning the other cheek, not judging, and radical trust in God. It all made sense for a very short time and I felt more peace even in the midst of the pre-team storms than I have felt in my life I think.
Then somewhere this Summer I took my eyes off the Savior and set them on men and all that peace fell apart. I could tell you all kinds of things that I've seen God do this Summer in and through the teams... I've seen God heal miraculously, seen deaf ears opened, pains disappear, heard of backs being straightened, lives changed and spiritual eyes opened. I remember a friend saying once though that physical healing is nothing compared to the miracle of transformation of hearts. And right now I feel like there is something going on in my heart that I can only pray that will bear good fruit eventually. I have seen things in my heart in the past few weeks that make me despair of myself and cry out "wretched woman that I am... who will save me from this body of sin and death?" You'd think that with all else that I've seen God do, there'd be hope still in my heart, but hope feels like it's a million miles away and we are to walk there, crippled and vehicle-less.
Paul says in Romans that he knows that "nothing good dwells in me, that is in my flesh." Nothing good. Nothing. How often I thought that I had something to hold onto. Something to claim as my own; i.e. "I am honest, I don't cheat on taxes, I have integrity, I am not jealous, I would never commit adultery, I am responsible, I am kind, I am a servant etc. etc." We are hurt by others, see others' flaws, examine ourselves and find ourselves "clean" in those areas, and end up feeling that we have something to hold onto. Others build us up with encouraging words of what good qualities they've seen in us...which if we don't realize the truth of what Paul says, can easily and subtly turn into pride. And we all know that pride comes before a fall, and I have fallen and feel that I can't see how to get back up. All the faulty characteristics of people that I have judged at one point or another of my life have been unveiled in my own heart and I despair. Adultery (isn't that what God calls idolatry?), jealousy (the same kind that made me withdraw from the church I was attending before), pride, deception (it's amazing how we can speak "truth" to our own hearts and still skirt around the elephant in the room)... they're all there. The very things that I've said that I'd never do, that I abhor, that I don't understand at all - they're all in me. Every last one of them.
"The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?" says Jeremiah. And he's right. Jesus says to the church in Laodicea concerning their hearts " you say I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked." Now if you're wondering what terrible sin I've fallen into, let me put your minds at peace. The only sin apart from stupid things that I've said about people and to people has been revealed in my heart. But according to the Sermon on the Mount, what is in our hearts is just as important to God as what we do. Just as important. We don't understand that very well when we try to justify ourselves with the "but I've nevers...," and "how could hes...?" that come out of our own hypocritical mouths.
So I feel naked, stripped of all good that I thought was my own. Which is good. "Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies it remains alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit." I feel like I'm dying to all that I thought I was. Which is also good. But I've lost a good friend, which I would do almost anything to reverse, but I can't and I don't know where to go from here. In need of a Savior? Yes. Desperately. But when you've been "saved" almost your whole life, you've dealt with issue after issue and faced demon after demon in you... and then you realize that YOU are the biggest problem... I despair. I know that Christ's atoning work on the cross and His redemption are the only things in which we have any hope - but I thought I knew that before and feel like I don't know how to get there. I feel like all my life I thought I was living in, let's say the USA, land of the free and home of the brave, then I found out that it was all a big joke (did you ever watch the Trueman Show?) and now I have no idea how to get to the place that I know really is home. And to be very honest, part of me doesn't want to leave this place because what if I fall away again from this unsparing realization into thinking again that I have something apart from Christ, and I hurt more people?
"Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." The first part of that seems very real to me - I have nothing good in myself to offer. But the second part seems like a Divine joke. So here I am in Peru. Maybe you can pray for me.