name='verify-v1'/> Big God - little d: March 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Identity Crisis

"Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his public ministry.
Jesus was known as the son of Joseph. Joseph was the son of Heli." --Luke 3:23 (NLT)

Jesus was known as the son of Joseph.

Jesus was the son of Joseph, but he was more than that. He was the Son of God. Everything he did was rooted in the knowledge of who he was and why he came to earth.

At the risk of sounding completely petty, I confess that I'm feeling jealous of Jesus this morning. He knew who he was. Me, I'm having an identity crisis.

This last week or so, I have really been struggling with my new surroundings and the lack of definition they give to my life. In conversations with different friends back in San Antonio, I have tried to put my struggle into words and failed miserably..."spinning and twisting in the wind, off balance, cannot gain firm footing, no frame of reference."

My relationship with God has shifted, as well. God hasn't changed, but my ability to relate to Him has. It is all connected to the crisis that is taking place within my soul. He listens and He waits but I am too disoriented to connect well with Him.

All of this twisting in the wind has forced me to take a long, hard look at myself. Who am I? I'm God's daughter. I'm Marty's wife. I'm Andy, Claire, & Mitch's mom. I'm a friend, a prayer partner, a fellow journeyer, a watchman on the wall.

Each of those titles describes a role that I play within God's Kingdom. Over the years, I have become comfortable in these roles. I realize that I have secretly taken great pride in being seen by others in such a way. Too much so.

So here I am, in the middle of an identity crisis. Stripped of my familiar routine. Stripped of my endless opportunities to serve. Stripped of familiar neighbors, friends, church, and schools. Stripped down to the basics: God and family.

Our move is a gift of freedom from God. Deep inside, I know this. I am free from past constraints placed upon me by others. I am free from the constraints I had placed upon myself. I am free to start over. I am free to be a more exact likeness of the person He has called me to be. I know these things. And someday, soon, I plan to walk in that freedom and revel in its beauty.

But for now, I just feel naked and vulnerable.

Abba, Let all that I am wait quietly before You, for my hope is in You. You alone are my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from You alone. You are my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. Help me to trust in You at all times. (Psalm 62:5-8). In Jesus Name, Amen.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Determination and Focus

"When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem." --Luke 9:51 NRSV

"...he set his face to go to Jerusalem."

This Lenten season, I have been drawn to Luke 9:51. All the events of Holy week revolve around this one sentence. Jesus knew what was waiting for him and he went anyway.

"...he set his face to go to Jerusalem."
He turned resolutely in a certain direction. His outward appearance reflected his choice. He was going to Jerusalem and nothing would stop him.

"...he set his face to go to Jerusalem."
Outward determination. Inward focus.

What does that mean for me? The obvious answer is that the the completion of Jesus' journey, which brought about his death and resurrection, resulted in my salvation. It is the reason for my joy on Easter Sunday . Still, I think there is more...

I've been pondering my own life against the backdrop of the following question: Have I ever been called to turn resolutely in a certain direction? Have I ever had to make a journey that I knew, in advance, would be unpleasant, painful, or even result in death?

The answer is yes.

Some that come to mind: Stepping away from a Bible study group. Pleasing God vs. pleasing people. Moving.

Each of these journeys resulted in the death of a relationship(s), the death of an identity, the death of a familiar and often beloved routine. Each of these journeys required putting God's will before my own. Each of them involved surrendering my need to control my own life. Each involved ignoring the voices of the world and staying focused on the whispers of the Spirit.

The cost of carrying the cross is great...
"Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.'" --Mark 8:34-35 (NIV)

The painful process often results in confusion and resistance from those closest to me...
"But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. 'Get behind me, Satan' he said. 'You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.'" --Mark 8:33 (NIV)

In hindsight, I can see how making each of those smaller journeys has been instrumental in leading me to this place. Each time something within me died, it made room for God's bigger plan to take place in my life and in the lives of those around me.

I am certain that there are more trips to be made. I pray that when the choice is before me, I will have the determination and focus to follow Jesus all the way to Jerusalem.

You are God! I celebrate Your Name!! Jesus, thank you for making the journey to Jerusalem for me. I love you and it is in your name I pray, Amen.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Being Called Out By Jesus - Part 3

At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?"
"You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?' "
But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering." --Mark 5:30-34 (NIV)

This past week, I came across a devotional written by the late Henri Nouwen titled, "What is Most Personal is Most Universal." In it, Nouwen reminds the reader that living a life connected to God means that what happens in our personal life isn't just meant for us but for others.

The words hit home, especially in light of the wrestling I have been doing with the story of the woman in Mark 5:24-34 (see Being Called Out By Jesus, and Being Called Out By Jesus - Part 2). I said that I have been wrestling, perhaps "puzzling" would be a better description. The story has stayed with me for over a week. As I have read and reread it, I have been asking God for clarity. I have been unable to shake the feeling that there is another connection to be made before I move on.

"What is most personal is most universal." Nouwen's words are the connecting piece of the puzzle. In Mark 5, what the woman meant as a private matter (her health issue and the way she went about being healed), Jesus intended for a larger audience. He used her disease, her suffering, her healing, and her faith, all for the greater good.

I have a lot in common with the woman who reached for Jesus' robe. I have spent years reaching for the robe of my Savior in relative privacy. For me, that time is no more. Jesus has "called me out" and that is why I must write about my faith.

It makes sense now...why He has been so insistent about how I write. Always, there is His voice challenging me to be authentic, willing me to be transparent as I put my struggles and my victories out there for others to see. Not because my life or the way I write about it is so special but because my Jesus is.

It is always about Him.

Abba, I am so blessed to be loved and forgiven by You. Forgive me for the many times I take these truths for granted. Thank You, Jesus, for being my Savior. Thank You, for taking my sins upon yourself and bearing them on the cross that I might live. Grant me the faith and the courage to live my life in a way that brings You glory and honor. In the saving name of Jesus, Amen.