Tuesday, November 14, 2006

You Limp

“How do you know you’ve had an encounter with God? Here’s how you know you’ve really met God: You limp.

"...Unless something comes into your life that breaks you of your self-righteousness and pride, you may think you believe you’re a sinner saved by grace, but you’re not. You don’t really believe it. You may say you’re a sinner saved by grace, but you don’t really believe it in the depths of your being. And as a result, you are not a sign of the gospel. The gospel hasn’t really formed you deep down inside. You’re not a strength-out-of-weakness person. You just aren’t. He will bring you down if He’s going to use you. You will have to have the sign of Jonah in your life—life out of death, strength out of weakness.”

--Tim Keller, “The Supremacy of Christ and the Gospel in a Postmodern World,” Desiring God National Conference 2006

I listened to this message by Keller last week and was blown away. All of it is excellent--worth a listen--but this quote at the end made me get up and pause it so I could copy every word. I felt like God in His kindness was giving me one more puzzle piece, bringing more of the big picture into focus.

"WHY" is the obvious question we ask when we go through trials. We usually can't see at the time; we learn to trust that God is using them for our good and His glory. Sometimes He gives us answers later; other times, we never see (this side of heaven) what He was doing. As I heard these words from Keller, it seemed to me that God was graciously shedding light on the dark desert He took me through in late 2004-early 2005. Since coming out of that, I have been able to say that I can see He had purpose in it. But when I heard this quote, I actually felt praise welling up within me for that miserable time. I saw so clearly how I had to go through that in order to be able to understand the centrality of the cross--the gospel-centered perspective He has been driving deep into my heart over the last year.

God used that dark time to break me. He broke me so that He could expose the self-righteousness and pride in my heart. He broke me so that He could rebuild me deep within, centered on the glorious gospel of grace. How thankful I am that He brought me down so that He could use me. How I pray that He'll continue to drive those truths deep into my heart and use me to point others to the cross.


Anonymous said...

This is the point of being humble. It brings you to the cross and makes you look at Jesus Christ alone! There is nothing in me that can be worthy for being saved. The limp makes me realize that I am imperfect. Thanks Amy! Your transparency is far reaching.

Combs said...

I'm not sure I can agree with the enthusiasm over this statement. I don't need a limp to know I've encountered God, in fact if I still have my limp after I've encountered God I wonder who I've actually been talking to. God makes us whole, the breaking is simply the means with which he extracts those parts of our being that incongruent with His nature. I don't need a limp to know I'm sinful...I'm sinful and it's quite obvious. I limp already. I'm not saying that the breaking isn't necessary. For most of us it is of the utmost importance, but is it at least considerable that God would take any opportunity and possibly delight in the chance to change a willing heart without the need for a breaking? I have to beleive that God simply wanted Jonah to go. I've never been impressed with Jonah. He ran from God or attempted too, attempted to commit suicide, whined his way through his evangelistic campaign, then became angry that his target audience repented and would be saved. Yes, this is truely a great man of God. I have to wonder if this story is in the bible simply to say that God will use who ever He wants no matter what.
Besides this I have one major problem with the the quote. What if this hasn't happened? Should we then seek our own breaking?
I think with a focus on our brokeness we may forget one small fact. Broken pots hold no water.
please take this as nothing more than it is, the near incohearent ramblings of tired musician.

Amy said...

hmm. interesting thoughts, Combs.

I've never been impressed with Jonah either--for the reasons you mentioned. not exactly a role model I want to emulate--he seemed to be kind of a whiny spoiled brat of a prophet (though that's not to say I can't RELATE to Jonah...I just don't WANT to be like him :) though he was mentioned in the quote, I didn't really focus on that part at all.

I don't need a limp to know I've encountered God, in fact if I still have my limp after I've encountered God I wonder who I've actually been talking to.

But what about Jacob--who wrestled with God and literally limped after that?

I don't need a limp to know I'm sinful...I'm sinful and it's quite obvious. I limp already.

I'm kind of confused because you say more than once, "I don't need a limp" but then you say "I limp already." Can you clarify a little more?

I think the idea is that in order for the gospel to be lived out in our lives, we have to live out of our weakness--we have to walk in humility; it should be obvious to those who encounter us that we AREN'T self-sufficient. people who meet us should learn that we aren't powerful and strong but that we are dependent every moment on a God who is. awareness of your sin and God's holiness and grace produces that dependence--whether it comes through an "experience/event," like in my case...or whether it comes more through a process.

What if this hasn't happened? Should we then seek our own breaking?

No, I don't think so. For one, I think we probably won't/can't realize God is doing this in us until He has done it. In other words, before I went through all that "yuck" two years ago, I had no idea that I needed to be broken. I had no concept of what God was doing in me. So I didn't even know to "seek" this kind of breaking. I think we just need to be seeking God...and He'll bring whatever kind of brokenness we need, when and how we need it--whether it's something dramatic, or simply an increasing understanding of sin and grace.

Does any of that make sense? I feel like I'M just rambling now. I'm not sure I completely understood all of what you were saying, though.

I'm still chewing on this:

Broken pots hold no water.

I'll have to come back to that :)

I love this kind of interaction on my blog! I wish more people would comment and weigh in with their thoughts on what I write! Thanks for taking the time to do it.

Combs said...

I've been trying all day to figure out how to say this and make sence at the same time. It's not been going so well. The way that I understand things is that I am already broken. I'm hobbled and limping before I've meet God. I'm just looking at this brokeness thing differently I guess.