I have become increasingly burdened since these children were thrust from my loins, that if I don't love God with all my heart, mind, and strength; if I don't seek Him with my whole heart; if I don't enjoy Him; if I don't see Him as beautiful; if I don't see my sin as ugly--I will never be able to instill a love and joy and worship of God in my children. (Thankfully, it is not totally up to me - they are the Lord's.) I have to keep it real.
I can be diligent to teach them the Word, to memorize scripture, but the Word became Flesh. The Word is a Person. Am I teaching them relationship? Certainly they are happy and comfortable with Mom and Dad. I am happy for that. Sweet joy and innocence. But as they increase in reasoning and logic, in existential realities, are we demonstrating a relationship with our Creator? A love and utter joy of being with and worshiping the One who plucked us out of the race to destruction?
For the last six months I have been happy - perhaps deeply joyful for the first time. I have enjoyed laughter and giddiness, serving my husband and children. I don't know the last time the world seemed right, maybe never. In the midst of this peace, I was handed Ann Voskamp's book "One Thousand Gifts," an amazing gift from a dear friend! I began to employ much-needed tactics on living in the moment and savoring moment by moment His gifts.
Then another gift came along....a beautiful dazzling glittering gem. An amazing opportunity that would jumpstart my career again, validate me to others (ugly pride) - adding many benefits and immediate satisfaction. I can't believe this opportunity was being handed to me after so much desert has been tread! With more pros than cons, I held the phone in my hand to tell the director, YES, YES, YES! I'd be crazy insane NOT to do this project! This will never come along this way again. To my utter shock and dismay, I said no. Those two little letters which walk side by side between 24 others, but when lifted out of the line up and put together, they stop momentum, thwart desire, tempt me to despair. Which I did.
I despaired. Again, after 5 years of desert and sacrifice and, I'm embarrassed to say, no joy for not drinking of His well ever before me, here I am again. Hazy, grieving, sad, I keep hearing His voice saying, "Are you going to thank Me for this?" Am I going to Thank Him? We are to thank God for all things. ALL things. ALL things are from His sovereign hand - He who sits enthroned with cherubim guarding His glory, crying Holy, Holy, Holy! Whose throne emanates an emerald rainbow. Who is separated from His subjects by a sea of glass. Who many times a day is worshiped by the 24 elders falling prostrate before Him, casting down their crowns at His feet, saying,
Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created!
This is the God we worship and have relationship with! Am I going to thank Him? If I don't, I stay miserable. If I do, I let go. Can't I have both? Can't I hold on to my fleeting life and have Him too? Jesus said, "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it," Luke 9:24. Lest I sound mortifying, let me say that I believe the season will come for me to perform again. Maybe even soon. But this was not the time for this opportunity in particular. As Bonhoeffer says, "Self-denial is saying only: He goes ahead of us; hold fast to him."
There is a much more important lesson for me. I thought I had this joy thing and thankfulness figured out. "I was doing all the right things." But just when I think I've learned the art of joy, He has to teach it to me a thousand different ways to etch His story into my heart. (Paraphrased from Ann Voskamp.) It is His story. But I am the subject of it. I am the recipient of His amazing grace. I am in His gaze. The apple of His eye. Not because of me - because of Him! If I mold a vase from clay, bake it in the kiln, paint it and put it on my mantle to enjoy, it can't say that I am enjoying it because the vase has beautified itself and chosen to make me like it. I enjoy it, because I made it as it delights ME. We are created by Him for HIS enjoyment. His enjoyment of us is our joy. God walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden in the cool of the day enjoying fellowship with the people HE created. And they enjoying Him.
It is sin that brought the rift, the sadness, the fear, the fleeing, the enmity with holy God.
My ugly sin. God's glorious beauty. His glorious mercy, mercy, mercy. Christ's righteousness draped over me, covering my nakedness, just as God covered Adam and Eve's nakedness with clothes before leaving the Garden. Not because we are striving to do rightly, but because GOD is bending low to fellowship with us. To eat, walk, live and dialogue with us. This is what I want my children to know. This is what I want to know. I don't know how to impart it to them, save believing it and living it myself. I believe! Lord, help my unbelief! Soli Deo Gloria.