Sunday, July 13, 2014

New Ground

There is no room for pride in the kingdom of God.

If there is anything He has been teaching me lately, it is an accurate view of myself.  In the past few years, I have thought of myself as broken, at times.  Flawed.  Messed up in some ways.  But I was only scratching the surface of truth.  Now, I think He has shown me the heart of the matter.

My testimony is pretty amazing.  I know it.  Not many people can say that God changed their sexual identity, but I have lived it.  And I know it was only Him who could do such a miraculous feat, but there's this piece of me that wants to steal His glory.  I want to take partial credit for my life transformation.  To God be the glory... I say.  But truth be known, I have a pride problem.  I am proud in myself, proud of my ability to have made that change.

Without me even really realizing it, pride had crept in.  I felt like I had had such amazing growth in Christ to come out of my former life, maybe the rest of me wasn't too terrible.  There wasn't any need for earth shattering, fire refining sanctification, not anymore.  I had my issues, but I was doing pretty good, at least comparatively.  That was up until just recently, when I finally felt the conviction of a sin struggle, one that I had finally decided to surrender.  Not really because I wanted to follow Christ instead, but because I wanted to quit experiencing negative consequences.  It turned out to be about so much more than the outward struggle, as it often is...

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3

Poor in spirit doesn't mean we're sad or brokenhearted, it means we acknowledge how much we need him.  How impoverished we are without Him.

And with this recent sin struggle which is so terrifying to try to lose control of, I am on my face.  It makes me smile a little bittersweetly.  I guess I had been so absorbed with pride that I just hadn't been here in awhile...hadn't fallen on my knees and acknowledged who I am.  Not Krissy who "mostly" has it together.  Not Krissy who is self sufficient and wise and spiritual and serves at the church.  Not Krissy who is a small group leader and who is mostly a morally good person.

Krissy who is a wretched, evil woman.  Whose motivations in her heart of hearts are just vile.  Krissy who is a wicked sinner, building her own kingdoms and image and believing her gospel of Self.  Hopeless, helpless, useless, and, in truth, utterly nothing without Him.  Krissy who knows she must make herself Nothing.

Rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!  Philippians 2:7-8

Sin is a cancer.  We give in to it a little, and it creeps its way into desolate corners.  We feed the flesh, and it always begs for more, never to be satisfied.  And suddenly, before we know it, those areas of sin that "aren't so bad" have metastasized and are deep into the process of killing our souls.  Killing our intimacy with God and warping our minds.  Inch by inch.  More and more of us, less and less of Him.

But then occasionally, a beam of light breaks through, as clear as day.  Revelation happens, and we realize the wretchedness of our sin and ourselves.  Or maybe we get so sick of suffering the consequences of the sin that we are finally to a point where we want to surrender it.  However it happens when we make the choice to do chemo, it is the start of God breaking new, fresh ground in our hearts.

It is terrifyingly awesome.  Like free falling off of a mountain and trusting that something will catch us.  Many people don't take the leap off the mountain at all.  Many continue to trust in themselves, and as a result, don't realize how miserable they really are.  Life is too short for that, but people live in bondage for years because they have become comfortable with sin.  Familiar.  And their strongholds keep them from the freedom in Christ.

There is a scene in the movie "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade."  Indy is trying to cross a chasm carved into rock and it's 50 feet wide.  He is told it is a "leap of faith," but the chasm is wider than any man could jump.  And he is breathing heavy and sweating and clearly fearful, realizing that he won't be able to do it.  It is terrifying and unfamiliar. But instead of turning around and giving up, and instead of trying to take the leap with all of his own might, he takes one. Baby. Step.  And his faith upholds him.

There is a Switchfoot song called "Always," and it is a lovesong between God and the subject of the song.  It talks about how God continuously offers Himself to us, that He is always ours, every step of our lives, that His grace is always ours for the taking.  And in the end, the man in the song has this revelation:

Hallelujah....I'm caving in.  Hallelujah, I'm in love again.  Allelujah, I'm a wretched man.  Hallelujah, every breath is a second chance.  

How perfectly this captures the bittersweetness of sanctification.  We feel like we're caving in, but we fall deeper in love with Christ. We have the realization of our wretchedness, but at the same time, we know what grace means: every breath is a second chance. HALLELUJAH.

There is a war going on for my heart, but my Father is breaking new ground. I am free falling off of the mountain, I am trying to take a baby step into the chasm, and I'm caving in.  But it is a good thing.  A painful but freeing thing.  I will not give up and I will not go back to my flesh.  I am fighting.

Oh, and one more thing. 

"For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." (1 Corinthians 2:2)  

I pray I would never again think that I have it together.  I pray I might always recognize my need to pursue more of Him, less of me. May I always rely on Christ alone, knowing the wretched woman I am apart from Him.  May I know nothing, be nothing, make myself nothing, express nothing BUT Him and Him crucified.  

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Food Fight

I guess I have somewhat made peace with the fact that I will never be one of those "stick skinny" sort of girls.  I actually don't want to look that way...I do think muscle looks good and I desire to be fit and healthy, but my problem is obsession.  I have this obsession and unrealistic expectation for me to remain the same weight I was in high school for my whole life.  And I buy into the world’s mentality that I should!!  I buy into the world’s mentality about being strong and fit and healthy and looking like a million bucks and making sure that every picture I ever post of myself on social media has me looking as good as I ever do.  No flab, no neck wrinkles.  And heaven forbid anyone tag me in an unflattering picture of myself on Facebook that is up for more than 5 minutes.  I continue to guard and protect this image of myself, an image of what could be me, an image that I know comes from me and not God.  

The hilarious thing…the saddening thing, the maddening thing, is that I know I will never meet that image.  Because just as I get close to it, it will always elude me.  I know, because I have been in really good shape and mostly happy with my body, only to think “Ya know? I really would like to lose just another 5 pounds.” Then, I would be happy.  It’s like right when I think I am going to drink from that water of satisfaction, I only see more cracks in the cistern where the water is leaking out.  And I know...I KNOW that I will never ever be satisfied with drinking from that cistern.  Never.  I will never find satisfaction in my flesh. Deep down, in places that are so deep in my soul only God really knows, I know my flesh always deceives me.  The more we feed the flesh, the more it wants. 

I lament at the wasted time I have spent on vanity. On me following my rules and failing over and over again miserably for years, rather than just trusting HimI have spent years, that’s right YEARS, obsessing over the 10 or so pounds I have gained in the last 5 years, and worrying about it and how do I get it off and what kind of crazy rule following and diet restrictions can I follow to get it off.  Reading for hours on the internet about food and diets and exercise and the latest research and nutrition info.  Restricting and rule following and then swinging to the other end of the pendulum, eating too much and cramming down whatever sweets and unhealthy things I can get my hands on.  Sinful, obsessive food issues at their finest.

The word of God:

 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. (Colossians 2:20-23)

And what He spoke to my heart:

Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, (we died to this world, we are not ruled by anything of the earth) why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: (why do we allow ourselves to be mastered by diets or food restrictions?) “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? (every diet EVER has "do nots") These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. (Diets will fail because they are based on HUMAN COMMANDS AND TEACHINGS, not the wisdom or FREEDOM of Christ.) Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, (there is all kinds of nutritional info and restrictions that seem legit) with their self-imposed worship, (they help us worship the rules and OUR OWN BODIES rather than the rule maker, the MAKER of our bodies) their false humility ("_____ diet helped me" instead of giving the credit and strength for good health to God) and their harsh treatment of the body, (Restricting and depriving your body and working out too much sucks!!!) but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. (These things have never helped us get ahold of the real problem, which is a HEART CONDITION.  We have a lust of the heart, an idolatry of food, and only Christ can redeem that!!  Not some diet!!  Not restrictions or human wisdom...)  

 And the knowing, powerful, righteous and wise word of God goes on to say: Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set you hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Se your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  (Colossians 3:1-3) 

 These things that I have been wrapped up in have no eternal significance…they certainly are not dwelling on things above!!!  They have absolutely nothing to do with my identity in Christ.

 So, I am dropping this cistern with its cracks, that will never hold water for me, and letting it shatter on the ground.  And I will take up the one that has living water.  Oh Jesus, how I cherish the freedom in you.  How I cherish the living water that flows from who I am in you.  I will love myself for who I am in You and refuse to allow my body shape or my weight to determine how I feel about myself.  

 I feel like God has showed me all of this before, but I just couldn't allow Him to have complete control.  Well, now I am trying to learn what giving Him total control looks like, and I feel like the verses in Colossians speak volumes to me.  I feel like it is not getting on the scale.  It may be alright for some people, but it is idolatry for me right now. 

And I have to balance out the rule following with what he also speaks to my situation: not everything is beneficial for me.  "I have the right to do anything," you say--but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything"--but not everything is constructive." (Corinthians 10:23)  Although I can eat whatever I want, it is not beneficial for me to eat nothing but Oreos.  I know God has given me freedom to also eat vegetables.  I will quit looking at food as good or bad, but I will be wise to determine what would not be beneficial in my freedom.  I will not use my freedom to indulge in the sinful nature, but to eat and drink to the glory of God.  And I will not allow food to be my master.

It is a battle to trust Him.  And it is also just a battle for me to not be a little piglet when it comes to food.  I love everything and I have a hard time eating healthy for the right reasons, watching my portions, etc.  But I think those are battles that are worth fighting because I am fighting sinful eating.  The battle not worth engaging in is the one that says I have to weigh a certain amount or look a certain way to be JOYFUL. That I have to be down in the dumps because of a number on the scale and I have to adjust my eating accordingly.  No, I will accept myself right where I am the same way Christ does, and believe that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139) 

I am learning to walk when it comes to eating for the glory of God.  I am stumbling, I am falling sometimes, but I am also learning how to give myself grace when it comes to not beating myself up for making mistakes. Trying to find a balance.  

So what does that look like?  Here’s what He shows me:  One meal at a time.  Matthew 6.  Not worrying about the future, not worrying about what I will eat or drink, not worrying about the scale.  Lord, heal me one step at a time as I continue to trust you,destroying arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.  (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

It is time…time for me now to get off this train.  Baby steps forward to trust in Him.  The world says I need to follow rules and diets and calories, but I will follow you.  The world says I need exercise and to trust all of the latest human wisdom and my own understanding, but I will trust you.  One meal at a time. ALL my heart.  Not just a little.  Not anymore.  I refuse to do this anymore.  Jesus, be my strength.