Ecclesiastes makes it very clear that there are seasons for everything under the sun: life and death, grief and dancing, tearing and mending, building and breaking. The wise writer also made it apparent that life would be full of all these seasons, so learn to revel in them all while living here on earth.
The Apostle Paul made a similar point, highlighting that he had learned to be content in all things whether abasement or abundance had taken up residence in his circumstances. Historical documents show that Paul certainly had more trials and tribulations than he did triumphs . . . Yet, he wrote that he was more than conqueror through Christ who loved him.
As I continue to meditate on Hebrews 12 and examine my own life this morning (see yesterday’s post for more on this journey), I know that many of the past seasons have not produced contentment, but rather a sort of impatient apathy in my heart. Many of these past seasons have shaken my faith in Christ, and, though my belief is once again firm, it has lost its white-hot passion, and it has lost its tenacity. While emotionally I am becoming resilient, spiritually I fear that I am growing lukewarm. I don’t see myself as “more than conqueror.”
I fear that I have begun to see myself as a victim . . .
I’m not a victim. I’m a child of the Most High God. I’m blessed beyond compare. I take offense at that characterization of a pathetic, wounded one. However, if I am honest, then that is how I have been spiritually responding – as a victim. As I have felt powerless in one situation, I have allowed that to creep into other areas. Praying with authority takes me by surprise now. Begging had become my M.O.
I’ve been shaken . . .
Hebrews 12 commands the believers to strengthen those who have grown weak, so that they all may run forward and receive the prize. Until this morning, I hadn’t aligned myself with those in the camp of weakness. Yet, here I am. Even as I write, I don’t feel that I am describing myself. “Who is this Lauren of whom you allude to? She is a stranger to me. The Lauren that I remember is bold and courageous, loves adventure, and sees a challenge as simply something to be overcome.”
That Lauren, whose name ironically means “victorious,” was handcuffed and restrained by the magnitude of what she could not control. That Lauren looked at a situation involving rape and abuse of every sort and could do nothing. That Lauren watched marriages around her dissolve or become cold due to circumstances out of her control. That Lauren cried as friends lost babies – both in utero and out – but could do nothing to stop the flow of blood, the ebb of death. That Lauren tried everything she possibly could to reverse a diagnosis of infertility, but has of yet never delighted in a positive pregnancy test. That Lauren realized that she could be defeated, that she could not overcome every obstacle, that sometimes life is cruel and marred by imperfection.
I don’t want to be that Lauren anymore . . .
Maybe my Heavenly Father had to bring me to this point of weakness to let me taste the gamut of possibilities: death and life, unity and brokenness, pain and joy, shattered emotions and resilience. All is NOT possible with me . . . but will I believe and grasp onto the truth that all IS possible with God?
Where is victory? Here and now. Where is struggle? Here and now, as well. Where is life? Here and now, intermingled with death and pain. If it were not for these things, would we truly yearn for Heaven, yearn for the place of no more tears? I’m not so sure.
“His voice that time shook the earth to its foundations; this time—he’s told us this quite plainly—he’ll also rock the heavens: “One last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern.” The phrase “one last shaking” means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered. Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God himself is Fire!” (Hebrews 12: 26-29, The Message)
As I continue in my preparations for Easter, I want a thorough housecleaning, “getting ride of all the historical and religious junk.” A cluttered heart can’t follow Christ to the Garden and pray. A cluttered heart can’t follow Christ to the Cross and die. A cluttered heart can’t follow Christ to the grave and surrender. A cluttered heart can’t rise with Christ in victory.
I want to taste victory. I remember the feeling of undaunted faith. I remember the Lauren who didn’t consider storms something to worry about. However, I think that Lauren is forever gone.
If the past seasons have taught me nothing else, then I have learned that storms are worth preparing for and fighting through. Sometimes, though, storms capsize a ship, and one must be ready to walk on water with Christ. My ship has sunk one too many times. Will I walk on water now? I pray so. I feel a “yes” on the tip of my tongue.
While that “other” Lauren has drowned, where is the Lauren that will rise in life with Christ? What is she like? What are her passions? What does she dream of?
I’m not sure, but I would like to find out.
Perhaps you too have lost yourself in a myriad of big and small storms. Perhaps you too find yourself in the camp of the weak. I invite you to come with me, as we find Jesus. May we grab onto His garments and be endued with His power.
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