A place like New York..
- Necessitates the shedding of all your Christian frills. Frills of culture, of tradition, of religion… Stubborn guarding of these will turn you into an insulated blunder of what you once thought was faith.
- Urges, pushes, no thrusts you to question every belief and every action. Is this love? Is this just? Is this Christ? And with every yes, you build up a simple, but strong core of truth that no circumstance or context can cause you to lose.
- Calls for a raw, bare-boned Christianity that is stripped so not as a compromise for relevance, but for the concentration of all that is good and holy.
A place like New York does not have much patience for timidity, hesitation, or doubt. You grab hold of what you know is deeply real, and get on with it.
Sometimes I fear that I will fail God. Not so much with things I do, but with the things that I am not doing enough of.
But He is teaching me that if I am truly following Him, I am incapable of failing Him. Because once I give myself over unto Him, He has me. He has lordship over my will to turn from Him, and even my disobedience must submit to His authority.
Like Jesus, understanding that a true servant cannot absolve himself from his duties, asked the Father for permission to lay down His cup. Jesus would not let it go Himself. He could not fail God.
This is good news! That my God’s hold on me is stronger than my hold on Him. That He has given me the choice to enter into His kingdom, but thereafter, He has chosen to keep me here.
The transition between a long held prayer and its answer does not always feel natural or smooth. The moment is sometimes marked by an expectant, yet hesitant hope that the change is really true. Perhaps when a prayer becomes very dear, it is not easily left even when it is fulfilled…
Though this doubt in between is short and soon gone, it does not belong with those who faithfully held on to the promise of an answer. It does not belong to those who trust in the giver of hopes and the hearer of prayers.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12
A question that has dropped heavily into my heart: Am I willing to love my friend’s enemy at the risk of making an enemy out of my friend?
Because to love my enemy, I only have to get over myself, but to love my friend’s enemy, I have to get over both me and a friend’s perceived betrayal.
And a more difficult question that presses the first deeper into my gut: Am I able to forgive not only he who trespasses against me, but he who trespasses against one I dearly love? Even if my beloved may feel that I have abandoned, or worse, accepted their injustice?
I am afraid to pay the cost of love and the dues of forgiveness. The price is expensive and the debt overwhelming.
My only peace is in this, the Savior’s love and the Father’s forgiveness has grown once again greater than any possible understanding.
I have promised my God all of life one too many times for me to refuse any part of it to Him if He asked.
There is one portion in life, though, that I prayed and prayed was in His plan for me. The gift of bearing life.This is one desire I convinced myself could never be bad, it could only be pure! And surely it is what God wanted for me, too, when He designed my body to accommodate this precious gift. Surely.
But with dread, I have played out scenarios of God’s jealous voice, or be it my guilty conscience, asking whether I could still live with joy abundant if I were forbidden this portion and called to love Him alone. Though even just the thought sprinkles chills throughout my heart, I know what I have promised. In the end, I would set this, too, carefully in His hands, for if you shall have it, I will give it Lord.
But oh today… I shudder at such a thought that drifted through and did not leave, but stayed there like an impostor in my head. It was this: that I wouldn’t mind being forever a daughter and never a mother if for the sake of Jesus. That the life I could one day bring forth is impossible a sacrifice before the life that had been given…the thought that I could have the abundance of joy in life even if alone. I deny that this thought is mine. As someone who has pondered motherhood since childhood. As someone who has a list of possible names for the four young ones she hopes will be hers one day. As someone who sometimes even (wrongly) considers marriage as a means to a more precious end. No way this could be me.
Help! Someone who is not myself is doing something inside of me. Is this the compelling crime of sanctification? But who should I blame when I am the one who invited them in. I am the one who cannot refuse Him who does not capture my heart to sacrifice everything for Him, but gently restores it to want nothing but Him and all things through Him.