Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"Yet I still dare to hope"

Life has been full lately.

Without going into unnecessary details, I'll borrow a friend's word picture: I've had some dragons and gnats swirling around lately. Sometimes the gnats can be more frustrating than the dragons... but lately... well, I don't know if the dragons can smell all the things that God is burning away and pruning from my life... but they seem to be snapping and circling.

And amidst it all, I've found that God is faithful, despite my desire to bolt. He is still pursuing, despite my self-protective ways. He is still there, ready to peel away and prune as necessary, and He's willing to do it gently if I'll stay softened and sit close enough to Him to let Him work carefully. And when I sit close, I can see Him at work-- in my heart, in my life, in my family, and in the people around me. And even though I feel so tired of being pruned, and wish I could just run away and lick my wounds, or just be left alone, for a little while, please, I know this is better. Because it's where HE is.

And no matter what, I don't want to waste my life by spending it running away from the pain, grief, or difficulties He'd use to teach me the things I need to learn.

You may think I'm crazy, or a total goofball (and I'm OK with you thinking either)... but I drew out a series of cartoons in my journal this morning to try to express an idea I've had rolling around in my head. I feel like I've studied, grown, lived, grown, studied, grown, examined, grown, analyzed, grown, and on and on... in my spiritual life. Not that, by any means, I thought I'd arrived... but I have felt maturity and growth and been joyful in that. And yet, lately, it's become very clear to me that I am still so very much in need of growth. That there's so much more learning, growth, and living to do.

Here's the cartoon... I'll put the captions underneath.

"18 year old" Christian walking over to a desk to sit down and take a test.
The "test" is Romans 12:9-21 (NLT, ESV).

After results:
[He's pretty baffled.] "What? I'm at a 3rd grade level? But I've grown so much... other people tell me I'm a "smart" kid-- and I'm EIGHTEEN for crying out loud! You're kidding!"

I won't share the caption for this one. But it's comprised of:

Much lamentation.
Thoughts like, "If I'm only THIS far along, how could I ever make it another few decades?"

"Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:
The faithful love of the LORD never ends!
The LORD is good to those who depend on Him.
Let them sit alone in silence.
For no one is abandoned by the LORD forever."

"Instead, let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn back to the LORD."
~Lamentations 3

And that's it.

So. Maybe I'll be going point-by-point through the "test"... and sharing some about my very lousy results. Maybe not. By now, you guys know how I am about perseverance on one topic over time. I get distracted. Regardless. Here's where I'm at. Looking at the dragons and praying. Sitting alone in silence. Looking back over my test to see where I've botched things. Watching for His goodness.


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