Friday, March 17, 2006

Toward a Cross-Centered Life: Part 2

In the midst of that desert, an unexpected blessing: plans came together for a trip to Denver. Since she could not come to my wedding, my mentor Diane invited me to come out for a visit, where I'd not only get to see her, but several other wonderful friends and co-workers at Kingdom Building Ministries. She also planned a spiritual retreat for the two of us up at YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park. I wasn't doing much praying by that time, but I prayed for a breakthrough. I prayed that God would meet me there, somehow.

I spent a good deal of the weekend in tears. I had been excited about the retreat, but hadn't stopped to realize that getting away for a whole weekend and seeking God would mean coming face to face with where I was instead of pushing down the struggles and trying to be numb. It would be painful. And it was. I didn't understand why, if I desperately wanted to "get it" and walk closely with God once again, why He wouldn't help me to understand what was going on and get through it.

The first part of the breakthrough came in remembering God's past faithfulness, which I've already blogged about extensively. It has since become a sort of life theme for me. I had to recount and acknowledge what I knew to be true of God's character--in Scripture as He kept His promises and refused to forsake the Israelites, and in my own life as I had experienced His care and guidance countless times already--in order to believe that He had not abandoned me this time.

Yet I still felt like I was dealing with two huge and almost opposite issues. One was grace. I had a constant feeling that God must be disappointed with me. I heard people say things like, "Nothing you do will make God love you any more, and nothing you do will make God love you any less," and I said, "yeah, but..." Where does it say that in Scripture? Surely He must be disgusted with me a lot of the time.

I had a hard time accepting that grace, that love. And I didn't know why, because certainly my parents had wonderfully modeled unconditional love and support my whole life. I never felt I had to earn their love. Yet the struggle was there all the same. Diane made it her mission that weekend to show me unconditional love and grace, but still I struggled with the notion that God's view of me must be tied to my performance.

The other issue I was dealing with was pride. I had always known I struggled with pride, and would have admitted it rather flippantly. But it was that weekend that God opened my eyes to the magnitude of pride as a sin, and how offensive it is to Him--far worse than external things that I would point to as "dramatic" or "horrible" sins. God broke me, and showed me how ugly the pride in my heart really was. I begged Him to teach me to walk in humility.

By the time I left Denver, I felt as though--cliched as it sounds--a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Life wasn't suddenly perfect, but I felt as though God had met me and I was on my way back.

But I still had hardly begun to grasp the idea of grace, and I was far from seeing how my "two separate struggles" were really one and the same.

Next: Part 3 - weaving the threads together

No comments: