Monday, May 19, 2014

Hitting the Wall

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Sometimes we 'hit the wall' in our run toward God.  Sometimes we stumble over a rough place in our journey...Though difficult, [these times] can actually be a time of transition to a new level of prayer. [1]

The longer I'm a Christian, the more I wrestle with God-- hit the wall.  How is that possible?  

Is it my sin? 

Or is it because I'm sinking into a deeper relationship with Him?

Could it be because I am more comfortable with being in His presence and more assured of my standing-- and this is moving me to a new freedom to argue with Him?  Question Him?  

Some would say my wrestling is because of a lack of surrender and because of sin.  Most of the time it is.  I know I'm passionate and argumentative.  So why wouldn't that also extend to my relationship with the Father?

Often I'm furiously fighting with Him in my desire to stay hardened in sin patterns, unbelief, and trusting lies instead of truth-- living and believing old ways.  Doubting His ways are better (Isa 55:8).  Doubting I am a new creation (2 Cor 5:17).  

Walk in newness of life (Rom 6:4)

I don't like to surrender.  

To let go of my comforts and ways of coping.  

However, J. David Muyskens says:  We let go-- not because we want to but because of God's deep work in us.  The Spirit brings us to a profound communion with God.[2]

Surrender is His deep work in us.  

The more I discuss my life with Him, the more I am hopefully surrendering to Him, but it is often a back and forth-- give up and then take back.

As a living sacrifice, I am often crawling down from the altar in an attempt to take my life back into my own hands-- it's a constant process-- laying down in surrender, jumping off the altar to live life on my own-- a dance with the Father.  

God's best for us is often what we consider to be the worst for us.  

Christ walked a dark road of suffering and hardship.  He was questioned and misunderstood by others.  

His dearest friends betrayed him.  God allowed Christ to be in fellowship with Judas.  

Yet, the Father allowed it all-- the betrayals, the laying down of life, spilling of blood, for a greater good.  Our good.  Our only true hope.

This is the kind of life you've been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived.  He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step. (1Peter 2:21 the Msg)

Hitting the wall is often when we are in dark places-- gut-wrenching shadow lands of an aching soul.  

These pathways often don't seem like pathways at all-- more like dead ends or dark caves with no exit.  

Stumbling in the dark can often feel like God is silent, absent.

 The scandal of God's silence in the most heartbreaking hours of our journey is perceived in retrospect as veiled, tender Presence and a passage into pure trust that is not at the mercy of the response it receives. [3]

Can I believe my heartbreaking hours are places where He is tenderly present?  

I think of Jacob wrestling with God.  A relationship with the Father often involves a wrestling match of sorts...through our dark times -- anger, trials, fears, despair, sin, depression, vulnerabilities.  

Jacob wrestled all night (Gen 32:22-32), God touched his hip and placed it out of socket (leaving Jacob with a lifetime limp), and yet Jacob courageously asked God for a blessing.  

By God's grace, Jacob was an overcomer and was renamed Israel  (likely meaning a man who wrestles with God).  God could have wiped him out instantly.  Killed him.  Yet, in His mercy, He spared his life,

If we live long enough, our lives will also be marked with all kinds of limps-- we will bear scars like Jacob.  

We will be wounded like our Beloved.  

Deep grief can have a blinding quality, and it can easily seem at such a time that God is nowhere to be found.  We cannot trace his hand in the dark.  We discover, later around the bend, that he has been there all along.  [4]
If we have placed our trust in Christ, we can be confident He is always with us-- holding us.    Even when it doesn't feel that way-- our Redeemer is holding us through the times of joy, through the times of sorrow, and through the times of sin.
There is always hope.  And I hope for what is to come (Rom 8:18-25).

Hope captivates me today through the gentle lapping of turquoise waves on a powdery white Florida beach.  Coffee steams in front of me, as I stare up in wonder at a half moon.  His kindness.

He is calling me to deeper waters-- deeper trust.  Only by His grace.

[1] [2] J. David Muyskens, Forty Days to a Closer Walk with God, (Upper Room 2007), 87.
[3] Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust, (Harper Collins 2009)
[4] Paula Rinehart, Strong Women, Soft Hearts,  (Thomas Nelson 2005), 83.

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