Friday, February 24, 2012

There's no "I" in "righteous"

(Well, there is.  But there shouldn't be.)

The events of the past two weeks have begun to release the chains that I didn't know were shackling my heart.  I didn't realize it until now.

First, we (sans Denise and the kiddos) spent a day and a half among a great cloud of witnesses in Derby, England, experiencing how God is bringing healing and restoration to their community through 13 years of Celebrate Recovery.  We saw how God advances His kingdom through the faithfulness of those who love Him: it was incredible.  Second, the Hutsons and I have been working on a video-update to send to our supporting congregation in Tuscaloosa, trying to convey how God is stirring in Dublin, trying to find my significance in the work here: it's been difficult.  Third, I had a two-day retreat with all the staff and students from IBI.  I didn't want to go.  I was feeling burdened and overwhelmed.  The theme was "faith, hope, and love."  Apparently, it was just what I needed to hear. 

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.  --Hebrews 12:1-2

These are the lies the Adversary has convinced me of, these are the thoughts that hinder:
*I'm not "right" yet.  Not the right weight.  Not the right gentle.  Not the right spiritual.  Not the right person... yet.
*But "right" is just around the corner, and it's up to me to get there.  Eat right, sleep right, so I can feel how I should.  Read more, pray more, so I can know what I should.  Feel more, cry more, so I can love how I should.  I know what I should do, if I can't make it happen then something obviously needs to change.  I just need to re-organize, re-prioritize, then I can de-flesh and re-spiritualize.
*I'm not useful until I can be "right."  Right time.  Right place.  Right words.  Right answers.  Right prayers.  Right vision.  Right strategy.  Right action.

Then Satan reminds me of the times when everything felt "right."  Times when I was right with God.  Walking on the right path.  Making the right decisions.  Living by the right Spirit.  And then something went wrong.  Fear creeps in.  Fear that my selfishness has deafened my heart.  Fear that I'll misstep and ruin everything.  Fear that I was never really "right" in the first place.

He twists God's promise of righteousness into the impossible: the pursuit of rightness.  And I find myself entangled.

But my God is greater.  His Truth rings louder.  He tells me it's all about who I am in Him, not what I do for Him.  I am unworthy, but not worthless.  I can't be right, but I am righteous.  I was created.  Chosen.  Loved.  Redeemed.  This is the Truth that defeats the lie:

Listen to my gospel.  It is your salvation.  Believe it.  There you will find MY righteousness, revealed from MY faith for your faith (Romans 1:16-17).  You are blessed.  Your sins are forgiven.  I count nothing against you.  Don't be silent!  Pray to me! I will be found!  I am your hiding place.  I keep you from trouble.  I surround you with shouts of deliverance.  I will instruct you.  I will teach you.  Trust me.  Be glad, and rejoice! (Psalm 32)  For my word is true.  All my works are done in faithfulness toward you.  The whole earth is full of my steadfast love.  I look down on you from heaven.  I fashion your heart.  Hope in me.  I have delivered your soul from death.  I will keep you alive in the famine  (Psalm 33).  I have chosen you to be my treasured possession.  I have set my love on you.  I have brought you out with a mighty hand.  I have redeemed you.  I am Yahweh, your God!  I am faithful.  I keep my covenant.  Just love me (Deuteronomy 7:6-9).  I give you my peace through my son, Jesus Christ.  Stand in my grace.  Live by my faith (Romans 5:1).  Fix your eyes on Jesus, and run this race I have marked out for you.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My two other-halves: A video recap

I don't want to be sad about Sisters leaving.  So I won't write about our last night (when we never went to bed) or taking them to the airport (where Jes did something really funny that made us laugh really hard) or how empty my apartment feels now that they're not in it (though it's still surprisingly clean).  I won't write about how I started crying at school when Joan asked me how I was doing (I didn't mean too, I promise) or how boring it is to wait for the bus by myself (I got really spoiled always having someones to talk to).  No, I won't write about those things.  We had too much fun together to let any of that stuff get in the way.  Here's to remembering the good times...

I am so totally in love with being their sister!  And I can't wait to see them again... whenever that happens to be...