Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Time For Purity

Someone emailed me today about something they saw over me this past Sunday when I was leading worship at my church.  They said that there was such a sense of freedom and joy that I was giving off as I was singing and worshiping.  This struck me, because I have never felt more free in all of my life to be who God has called me to be than right this moment.  Also, as I thought about it, I am extremely happy as a person, being where I am, and doing what I do.  I love it!

So, I began to think of why I was so free, and how did this person see it.  I mean, we have financial issues sometimes.  As missionaries, there were times where Rebekah and I would pull back on what we ate so the kids could have what they needed.  We don't own a house, and have been trying to own a home for as long as I can remember.  That used to really get me down.  There have been times I struggled with loneliness, sometimes what would be called depression even.  There were months we didn't know how the rent was going to be paid.  I mean many months.  We are not entirely out of those woods yet, but there are differences in my mind, and in my understanding now.  What changed, and how?

As I thought about these questions, I sensed God speak into me and say, "Me".  He is so right!  I have given Him more of the little things that in and of themselves seem so insignificant and small, but together make up a huge portion of my life, my heart.  See, last year, I was reading the beatitudes, and I got stuck on Matthew 5:8. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."  I asked Him to reveal to me what a pure heart looks like, and how to get one, and if I would really see Him if I had one.  Bad questions to ask if you really want to know, and are willing to find out.  God began to really reveal the conditions of my heart.  Meaning, where I wasn't aware of before, I became aware of how selfish I was, how perverted I allowed my mind and mouth to be, how compromising I allowed my speech and exercise goals to become. How I spoke to my children, listened to my children, and how I treated my wife, even how I spoke to my own mom and dad.  How I thought of my younger brother.  I even found things hidden there about him that I didn't know were making a home in my heart.  I found fears that silently operated my behavior like the man behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz.  I felt weak and wanted to retreat from the very things I loved to do (lead worship, teach) before these revelations.

God told me that He would do two things in 2010 for me.  He would reveal what was in my mirror (identity), and clean the dirty spots so I can see me like He does, and He said He was going to consume my heart like a fire and purge what is not from Him, so that my motivations would follow a simple pattern: "Yes Lord".  This past year should have been a difficult year had it not been for what He told me He would be doing in my heart, and for my identity.  I was able to see everything around me as a backdrop to a play that He and I were playing lead roles in.  Some days, it felt like a tragedy, some a drama, and some days, a fun comedy.  All in all though, 2010 was an incredible year for me to SEE GOD.  He was right!  As He purifies this heart of mine, I can see Him at work more, all around me, not just inside me.  I, more than ever before, have been able to really see how He sees me, and when that happens, I am complete.  In Him, I find my rest, for I know that I know that He loves me, He made me, He is happy with me, and He is continually conforming me one millimeter at a time.  He gives me a pace not dictated by the race and anxiety of this world who doesn't know its identity, but a pace that is constructed by a relationship with Him that is greater in value than anything this world has to offer.  When I know that He loves me, everything else bows in second place.  That is the origin of the peace I carry through my days, and that is the foundation of the freedom that my friend was able to see in me on the stage Sunday.

You have done a mighty work in me Lord.  I am so encouraged from the days past for the days ahead, and I know that you are already there waiting on me.  So, I rest in You today.