Saturday, November 25, 2006

Transformation: Becoming Myself

On a Thursday evening in October during one of my typical calls to one of my best friends on the planet I became unraveled. I don't really know what brought it on but I do know that it was intense. That evening, as I do for all my conversations with my friend, I took a look at my life and when I looked at it this time, I was filled with frustration. I was frustrated because when I looked at my life I saw a bunch of unfulfilled goals. I don't mean unfulfilled goals like forgetting to take out the trash, but big life transforming goals. I was frustrated with the progress that I had made with my battle to have pure eyes, and I was frustrated with my closeness to God. Now don't misunderstand or try to judge how bad it is. The degree to how good or bad it is, is unimportant. The important piece was that I looked at my life and I found that I was not as far along as I felt that I should be. I felt like I had been working on these things for years and barely had scratched the surface of being who I was meant to be. Understand I was not trying to do any remodeling of my life, I was just trying to live it as I am designed to live it. It was like I had been cleaning my office of trash for a week only to find that I had replaced the old trash with new trash. So, instead of being able to see my office, all that was visible was the mess. And just like the trash in my office, it became apparent to me that I was covered with my mess.

So there you have it, I am a mess. This is not some 'let me show you how holy and humble I am by calling myself a mess' mess. No, It was a very real gut wrenching, tears flowing, snot running mess that I had found myself in. I was completely frustrated and helpless to alleviate the problem. You see I had already tried everything I knew to try. I had tried spiritual disciplines, accountability partners, web monitoring, confession and more. With all my best efforts I would look at myself and still find a filthy mess. Don't get me wrong I am not saying that the things that I tried are bad. On the contrary, I think they are extremely helpful. I even recommend them. The problem was not the things that I was trying. The problem was me. Give a pig a water hose to clean itself and it will make mud to wallow in. The water is not the issue it is the pig. So, I found myself helpless. I had tools I could use but no ability and sometimes there was even a desire to do the things that would let me truly experience the abundant life that God has in store for me. I found myself truly helpless. I was exhausted and frustrated, like a man in the desert who is looking for water but all he can find are mirages.

So, I spoke to my friend about my mess and my frustration and he suggested that we pray. So, we began to pray and then something happened to me. It was something new. No, I didn't see an angel or anything like that but I believe the Spirit of God guided my prayer. My typical prayer in a time like this would be to address issues of frustration. An example would be 'God make me more disciplined' or 'God, purify my eyes.' but I found that those things weren't the deepest desires of my heart. These were my desires but not the deepest desires. The deeper desire was that he would, 'Get close enough to me to get messy while being with me'. I just wanted God to be close. Like a child who wants his father or mother to hold them when he gets a 'boo-boo' on his knee and somehow that makes things better, I just wanted God to be near enough for me to feel him. I needed more than tools or skills to overcome. I needed the one who overcomes. Thank-you Spirit.

Here is something that I am learning concerning what happens when we ask God to come near to our messy selves: He likes to make good out of our messes. Recall Genesis 1:1-4. The earth was formless and empty (translation: the earth was a mess, a big shapeless mess) and God came hovered over the mess and began to change it. He created light and where there had been mess, now there was beautiful good light. This continued for six days until he was done. Each day he took the mess and created something good. I believe that is what God is doing in you and me. When the time is right he will hover over the mess of our lives and make something good. Notice that he will come and hover over our mess. A word of caution though, it is likely that when he comes and does his good work it will be a radical change but rest assured the change will be good. In the last month,God has been working me over and surfacing the me underneath the mess. He is making me good. I will share more about this in future posts. May God be near us all and may we all become the selves that he has created us to be.


Anonymous said...

2 Cor. 12:7-10 7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Chad said...

I thought of the following words from an ancient monastic as I read your post.

"We must bear with ourselves without either flattery or discouragement, although we seldom achieve this happy median. We either expect great things of ourselves and of our good intentions, or else we wholly despair. We must hope for nothing from self, but wait for everything from God. Convicted of our helplessness, we have no confidence in ourselves, and yet unbounded confidence in God." - Francois Fenelon