Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Resting in Him as we grow in grace,and begin to see our lives transform!!

At my old church, as I have mentioned before, there was a huge emphasis on holy living. Holy living to them would be what was laid out by Paul in the New Testament, but viewed as commands or laws. Things like I mentioned in my most recent post, such as "do not deprive one another." What happens with this is, as we all know now, is a tendency to perform is put into place. An emphasis on all those things drives one to act, or discipline oneself to attain those standards. They are endlessly taught on from the pulpit from every angle. So as a wife I was to keep a well ordered home, organized, be hospitable, and prepared to have guests at any time, parent my kids well, by being on top of all their sin and correcting and punishing them for most every infraction, as well as encourage them and shape their character, be a submissive wife (which meant obedient or under authority, in a not healthy way, which I won't go into now), and to be ready for sex always with no excuses. Okay so those are just a few of the expectations laid upon a married woman with children in my old church. Not to mention all the character qualities we were to be on top of too. Is your head spinning yet? I know I have mentioned all this before, but just imagine having all these subjects brought to you over and over and over, at every possible angle to help get you to 'do' them all better. Imagine talking about it every care group meeting you have and feel like you are not measuring up, nor will you ever. Imagine your spouse seeing you fall short in a few of these areas and deciding you need to meet with your pastor to get 'counsel' on how to improve. Imagine how friekin' exhausted you are, but that is no excuse. You must carry on and take up your plow and keep plowing. 
I don't honestly know who can carry on like this. I sure couldn't. Anyway, what I want to address is the simple fact that there was never any room for an excuse, real honest to goodness legitimate reasons, if you fell short, (yup the law does that, does it not?) Oh there was always more 'grace' to grow (eh hem, 'perform'), and many 'means of grace' (resources) to go to, to help you discipline yourself better. But what was never addressed was, what if I truly want to improve in an area and just can't. Well, you and I know that under that law, which was what the teaching really was, that you will never measure up and always fall short. There never was any true victory that I can remember. I mean maybe I would be able to 'do' better in a given area, but honestly it was out of my own self effort. So, what if someone has a serious struggle within their marriage and sex is just not happening. What then? Well in that context, somehow you just have to get over yourself and do it anyway. I don't think so!!! That is so wrong on so many levels. Is God really that cruel that he would demand our performance in any given area, especially sex, when we are hurting on a deeper level. When does the law ever give opportunity to see deeper and address issues that have gone further than skin deep. I mean after all shouldn't our actions come forth from a pure heart. (Or are we to be satisfied with dead works?) A heart that is confident in Christ's work! A heart that is bursting forth with the life of Christ flowing out. So when the flesh fails, then the psyche fails or vice versa. How pray tell me will a law mentality deal with the hurts of the emotions and the mind that is full of wrong thinking? There is simply no room for people to process their hurts or issues in this context. They must dismiss it and move on, press on, muster up your strength 'by God's grace' of course to just keep at it. 
I'll tell you what - the world will never see confident whole victorious christians if the church keeps up this masquerade. 
I want to share that the only way to be set free is by giving up trying and run into the arms of grace and love. The only way for true victory and true wholeness is to give up!! Only Christ is the one who can conquer sin and defeat, and he already did at the cross. Do we believe that He completed the work or don't we?
There are areas of my life that I am finally getting freedom in. And let me tell you it's not by me mustering up one bit of effort. Nope!! It has been by simply meditating on the truth of God's lavish grace, of Jesus Christ, who He is and the work He accomplished. 
Years ago, my husband and I were at each other's throats. Nothing helped. Not counseling, not reading christian books, not either one of us getting our part right, not one single thing. We had gotten so entrenched in law that we were close to splitting up. He wasn't happy with me. I wasn't happy with him. Why? Because neither of us were pulling our weight sufficiently. He wanted me to get certain areas right and I wanted him to get certain areas right. And based on the teaching we were under, there were essentially no excuses for either of us. Does this describe that picture Paul portrayed in Romans 7 about the law being a domineering husband or what? We were at a standstill. And do you know what? Our pastors told us they couldn't counsel us, unless we cooperated. HA!! They didn't know how to help someone unless they just followed all their unhelpful advice on how to keep up the rat race and just perform!! They would listen to us a little bit and then tell us what sin issue we had, prescribe some reading to do and some steps to take and send us on our merry way. Folks this is truly sad indeed. It was like well just deal with your stuff and start acting right. Even though I was hurting and needed to be understood by Keith and vice versa. Recently, I was able to be very honest with my husband about an area that was always a struggle for us. After giving it up to the Lord and saying I can't do this anymore, Keith finally heard me, and we are seeing immediate fruit. It was just a matter of communication and genuine love, care and understanding being really felt, rather than the behaviour being addressed. It was really quite simple once you take the performing part away and get to the heart of the matter. God is so loving and kind. His leading into truth is so gracious. 
I want to say to anyone who is hurting and struggling to live in a way that they see is important and 'godly' but can't do it - to just give up!!! Stop trying and rest in what Christ has done. Let him heal your hurts and bind your wounds that have festered from believing lies and from thinking you have to do your part. Sit back and just let him work in you. One day you will wake up and find that that area isn't a struggle anymore and that you now have a desire to walk by His spirit as he leads you in your former area of struggle. Don't be afraid to fail. Don't be afraid to go and get actual psychological help or counseling to help your process through your hurts and failures. Don't be afraid to not actually 'do' or 'perform' in that area until you sense an ease. Remember His yoke is easy and His burden is light. 
There are many more areas of my life that I would like to see blossom as I walk out my life on this earth. But, I am trusting that He will lead me into all truth. I am resting in His timing to help me grow in grace and walk by the Spirit. I am learning to be patient with myself and not putting pressure on myself to 'get it right', but to just take life one day at a time. Grace really does give you space and time to grow and bloom!! Thanks be to God that Paul didn't get stuck in Romans 7 and moved on to Romans 8!!! We can too!! It's when we stop trying and start believing that Jesus is our very life that we will be at rest!! 


jul said...

Beautiful post as usual! And true. I seem to remember prophetically declaring that a certain area of your life would get so much better, haha! And this is just the beginning, we are all just in the very beginning of amazing experiences in Jesus that will just get better and better and better for all eternity!

Free Spirit said...

Hey thanks, again, Lydia. I see Papa's doing His sufficient work in you, as well.

What popped out at me as I read was this line:
"When does the law ever give opportunity to see deeper and address issues that have gone further than skin deep."

I love that! Wow... does that ever open a wonderful can of worms. No wonder christians, who are so under the Law, are so shallow. They don't even know HOW to relate to each other on a deeper level than the law, and thus they remain "surface dwellers," as I call them.

It's no wonder I was so shallow, before!!!!

The Lewis Family said...

That's very encouraging. I like being encouraged! Thanks for sharing! I like it when you share more of where you came from and what God has showed you. . .