I think the main philosophy of my life right now is the idea of completion: how to us the traumatic, dramatic, humbling, embarrassing, unexpected moments in life seem to be isolated incidents that break us down and tempt us to give up hope, but in reality, which is bigger than our thought life, they are in fact pieces to the house God is building for us spiritually, leading us to eventually see it with our eyes in eternity.This year, the Holy Spirit pulled together the fabric of my ignorance and revealed both His glory and His wisdom. Everything in my life was torn from me; at least it appeared that way, by this I mean the things that seemed important (friends, money, posessions, recognition, attention) disappeared shortly after I moved to Texas in 2007.
Friends came and went, money left with it, problem was my ego was too big to fit through the door, so it had to be broken down and disassambled. I spent the next two years trying to repair everything I lost, trying to reach back in my memories and find the key to recreating what made them special. After many hours of reflection, and a few years, I can tell you that looking to the past is wrong if your center is off.
Our culture tries to transcend time by reinvisioning the past, but trying to transcend history often leads you to repeat, not fix it. Each moment in life has its own graces and trials, mistakes and mended wounds, but the problem is by taking the past into the present, you can’t be healed the same way, you instead only bring back the hurts you experience, and the errors you have made, and if you don’t have the wisdom to understand this is wrong, it can lead to idealizing the grace of God in your life not realizing that those nuggets of gold were dug with dirty hands in a world of sin and humanity.
Being stuck in the middle of God’s work isn’t the most comfortable experience: old fashioned photographs used to require sitting in the same position for long periods of time, which is why in most vintage photos you see people frowning instead of smiling, because its not a comfortable thing, but necessary, for the desired result. The same goes with painting, writing, work, marriage, singleness, whatever else it may be. Time is not the healer of wounds, time is the instrument of God in painting his masterpiece. We often want the whole picture now, because waiting is something we think we do too much of: waiting for the light to turn green, for the paycheck to come in, for summer to arrive, for that christmas vacation, in line at the grocery store, or a package in the mail. Yet how often do we consider these as pieces of our lives, and not the definition of who we are?
Character is often an overlooked trait of the Christian life: if anything, we believe Jesus already modeled for us character and so failing to be like him is easy and simple and not demanding. But how often are we called to be models of good works, evidences of the good fruit that came from the good tree? The fruit from the true vine? Character is the result of what God does in you, not the result of you working in you. At the same time, being responsible for how we listen to his word and his Spirit in the midst of life is often the greatest test of character, because it leads you to revealing whose character is at the center of your life: you or Jesus?
1 Peter 1:6-7 (ESV)
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Major rewiring has taken place the past four years: I’ve found a healthy Church, seeing God’s grace at work in the lives of hundreds of people, working in a ministry, being humbled by the people around me, in all honesty seeing Jesus with little in your pocket is better than offering Jesus a house full of gold. We have nothing to offer, but he beats out the dough so that it will be just right when the time comes. Being a child of God is the greatest priveledge. After not having consistent friendships ever in my life, and sleeping in the cell of self-pity, I can tell you that when God awakens you from that long sleep, your rest will have been sweet, your endurance stretched, and your soul satisfied in God, not yourself.There’s still a long way to go, but I leave you now with some words of advice from John Calvin on when you think you need to stop, its a sign to keep going, but in the direction of Christ’s glory, not your own. Don’t lose hope this week, and may God bless you richly!
“We should ask God to increase our hope when it is small, awaken it when it is dormant, confirm it when it is wavering, strengthen it when it is weak, and raise it up when it is overthrown.”
— John Calvin