Sunday, October 18, 2009

our life outside the garden

so strange
what we lost
that day
not like
what we found
so familiar
these fig-leaf burdens
carried on crooked backs
that seem straight
for so long
staring at the ground
that feels like home
makes it hard to turn around
toward what we lost
that day
so strange

Friday, October 16, 2009

Blessed Frustration

I am learning again the importance of frustration—the importance of failure and disappointment. It is the way God pursues us.

In one of my classes last week, my professor was discussing the curses in Genesis 3 after the fall. He spoke about how ultimately the curses are God’s way of bringing us back to Himself by frustrating our desires and pursuits. He explained that as corrupted people, without that frustration, we would continue in our corruption without ever turning to God. He pointed us to Romans 8:20-21, “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but BY THE WILL OF THE ONE WHO SUBJECTED IT, IN HOPE that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” Our freedom comes through surrender to God, and our surrender comes through frustration.

I play games with God just like I play games in my human relationship—trying to manipulate people to get what I want. I recently realized that I tend to withdraw from relationships when I don’t get what I want—not because I don’t want to engage in the relationship or be known by the other person, since that is usually what I most want, but it is my game to incite them to draw me out or pursue me my way. It didn’t work recently. Very frustrating.

See, a mentor of mine, who has the ability to draw me out to do work before I even know what he’s up to (if you’ve watched The Mentalist you know what I mean), respected my decision to withdraw and said he would not force me to engage if I didn’t want to. Well, of course, that revealed to me that I did want to. My game didn’t work. My attempts to get what I wanted my way were frustrated. I had to invite him in.

I began to wonder if God is this way. He won’t force us into relationship, but He draws us to invite Him in by allowing our frustration. He has the ability to change and transform and work in me without me even knowing what He’s up to, but He waits for my invitation. I withdraw from Him to get what I want my way. But then I get frustrated trying to do things my way. It doesn’t work. Thanks to the curses.

Isaiah 28:20 describes the frustration of my desires and pursuits well. It always rings in my ears in those times, “The bed is too short to stretch out on, the blanket too narrow to wrap around you.” There is no rest in frustration. And so frustration draws me to Him. Then I invite Him to work.

And then it begins—what I could not do on my own, what I really wanted. When I invite Him in, through our fellowship, He enables surrender, repentance, holiness, and rest—a taste of the glorious freedom of the children of God. And it is all a result of blessed frustration—the way of God’s pursuit. His way.

“Spirit-filled surrender means that it is the Holy Spirit who enables and empowers us to yield or surrender to God, and as we surrender, the Spirit fills us and empowers us even more! It is a blessed cycle, ever deepening, of Spirit-filled surrender!” Siang-Yang Tan (Rest: Experiencing God’s Peace in a Restless World)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Your Way

You foil
You frustrate
It’s what You do
For my gain
To turn to You
Futility for my gain
Just feels like pain
And since You do
I complain
And from You stray
For days and days
To try my ways
While You wait
It’s what You do
For my gain
To turn to You
You foil
You frustrate
Until finally I say
I want it Your way
If only I’d stay

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sehnsucht: A Lament

I want
all the time

I stopped wanting once
But it didn’t last long

Is wanting wrong?
That’s what I’m told
sometimes when
I want

But I was made
to want
Made hungry and thirsty and needy

Then the damned fall
And now I don’t get what
I want
And don’t know what
I want

And even when I get
I want
And even when I drink
I thirst
And even when I eat
I hunger
And even when I love
I want
And don’t get
And never will

Until the end
Until Eden

Until then
I want

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Out of Alignment

Everything is falling apart. I think it’s the second law of thermodynamics. Everything moves toward entropy and chaos. Homes have to be cleaned, cars have to be maintained, relationships have to be nurtured, hair has to be washed, the body has to be fed and exercised. Our souls are the same way.

I really don’t know anything about cars. Like a lot of things, the only time I pay attention is when it’s not working. The other day, after a tie rod broke on my car while I was making a turn (I just learned what a tie rod is), I had to get the wheels aligned. Not something I would do normally. But apparently, it has needed realignment for a while because it veers to the right.

Today I’m sitting here thinking about how I feel like I’m out of alignment. Like I missed some scheduled soul maintenance. Like maybe I’m veering to the right. I’m off-center. I’m forgetting where I’m going again and steering for another course that makes more sense. I’m losing the plot. Again.

I want my thoughts to align with God’s, my heart to align with his. To love the way he loves. To give the way he gives. To be filled by him. To set my heart on him alone. But my thoughts and my heart have been veering toward me—veering toward whatever I think will meet my needs and fill me up. Alignment comes when I give those needs to God and rest in His love. When I allow Him to wash me with the Word and set my eyes on Christ alone.

Recently I committed to keeping a day of Sabbath rest, but I’ve been wondering what it should look like. Perhaps I should think of it as a time for realignment. A day of quiet rest, free of the stresses and distractions that get me veering off course. My scheduled soul maintenance to keep me from falling apart—or to repair when I do.