A friend of mine recently re-posted a blog post from a year ago to-date. It was a long recollection regarding something that God had been teaching her a year ago, and she was encouraged to find the difference God, the lesson, and one year had made.
It has been a year since I was at the NANC conference in Indiana, and to be honest, I’m afraid to go back and look at the posts I wrote during that week. I am nervous because of this week’s chain of events and to see where my heart is this year as opposed to last in the this same, very personal situation.
If you recall reading The Lord knows our needs… or I died today: learning to take up my cross and follow Him, you’ll be sure to remember the conflict I shared. Adam and I were facing a conflict of greater proportion than anything ever imagined. I’ve gone through a good share of things in my life, but this was just ridiculous. Although this conflict had been years in the making, it had come to a head about a year before that post. The little excerpt below is the best way to sum up last year’s heart cry regarding this painful situation:
As I look at all that Christ has done for me, I am humbled by the opportunity I am faced with to be the ungrateful servant…. to be forgiven of so much, pursued despite my lack of interest, and loved despite my spiritual apathy and yet to turn around and not offer forgiveness, endurance, love, and pursuit to someone who has hurt me more than I can even describe, yes, but not half as much as I have hurt Christ.
Now it’s been one year–not one year since this conflict started, not one year since the conflict exploded, but one year since I think I really took the time to examine my heart in this situation.
It’s not like there’s been absolute silence between the members of this conflict. It’s not like life has simply gone on and no further pain has been caused. Although they have been fewer and further separated by time, this pain has continued.
I’m so done… done with pain and spitefulness, with fake relationships and obligatory communication. We either have real relationships with all that entails, or we don’t have anything. I will not settle for simple avoidance, smiles and nods, and pretending hugs for the sake of being in the same location.
I look back and my fear is that I have not embraced the message I came to understand that last February. I know that I understand it… I thought it was an attitude of the heart. It is, I know, but I am beginning to understand that it is so much more than that. The lesson won’t affect my life unless it affects my heart; the lesson won’t accomplish anything, if I can’t won’t apply it to my life. Ouch.
My prayer this week is not that I learn the lessons of the heart (which I already know) but that God offers me the grace (I know He will/does/has been) to apply those lessons to my heart in this specific situation.
He’s given me an opportunity to look back at last year’s lessons, to evaluate my readiness to apply what I know, and to walk into an upcoming situation I am dreading in order to do some very specific things:
- Take up my cross and follow Him
- Be willing to be hurt
- Choose to associate with people I am not friends with
- Treat someone with love who has treated me spitefully
- Choose to forgive and move forwards despite the other party’s refusal to do the same
Here’s the big one. I can make the choice to do all that. I can. However, I am realizing more and more just how weak I am to actually do those things. So, I am taking it upon myself to dwell on a few passages of Scripture that deal directly with this issue of human weakness and God’s grace:
2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
1 Peter 1:13
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
It is amazing how many promises God has in the Scriptures for those who obey Him. It is comforting to know I am not the only one who has put my life on the life in obedience to Him and in trust of His faithfulness to fulfill His promises. It is comforting to know that my life is full of examples of Him doing just that, fulfilling His promises to me.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. – Ephesians 3:20