Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Pending File Overfloweth

I have always had some sort of "pending file" that I keep. The contents of course vary from bills awaiting payment, letters yet to be returned and pictures I'd like to blow up and frame. There are weeks on end when that file is nearly empty. I love it when it is like that. At present, I keep the file under my laptop and when it begins to get rather full, the computer totters atop the pile reminding me of contents awaiting my attention. I can't help but draw the comparison between that file and my Christian walk. There are times in the passing of life when I have an overall sense of having figured things out for the most part--times when things make sense, fall into place and God seems pretty tidily summed up. (No doubt those are probably the times when Jesus calls out to heaven, "Look down there in that little town in Georgia--we're fixing to see some sparks! Old Sarah thinks she's got us figured out again.") And then there are seasons when the horizon is a haze. God seems known and yet still unknown and unclear. Present, yes, very present, but just not so neat and tidy. Things don't all make sense--I have more questions than answers and more pending concepts than completed ideas. I don't begrudge these times--they're the Jacob wrestling with God all night sorts of seasons when in the end, I always know that in some way I'll be marked, changed. The change for Jacob was a new name and a limp when he walked signifying to all mankind that he had contended with God. Jacob wasn't exactly worthy of God's blessing in my opinion. After all, he stole his brother's blessing, he favored Rachel's children and had a very dysfunctional family. But God, in His sovereignty and goodness chose to bless a man completely unworthy. The truth is, I'm not much different than Jacob. My life doesn't match his in terms of where I'm weak, but that there is weakness and failure is evident to anyone who knows me. But we kid ourselves if we think that having it all together--an empty pending file if you will--somehow renders us more worthy of God's blessings and presence in our lives. In fact, the more I consider the patriarchs of the Bible the more I see that God blesses those people in spite of who they are and not at all because of who they are. It's so easy to conclude that we need to "be a good Christian" and that in so doing we will find ourselves the recipients of God's goodness. We are the recipients of God's goodness because we choose to accept His goodness first in the form of His Son's finished work on the cross and second in our day to day lives by appropriating the blessings He has already poured out on us. By that I mean to say that "His divine power HAS given us EVERYTHING we need for life and godliness..." (II Pet 1:3) And by appropriate I mean we apply the truths of God's word to our lives like putting moisturizer on our face. We have the moisturizer in our bathroom vanity, but it is only useful if we put it on. It is the same with the blessings of God--they are only useful if we know what they are and choose to put them on. But that they are readily available to all who believe despite how messy or neat their lives are is not ever to be questioned.

Back to the pending file--we all have them. Sometimes they're overflowing and sometimes they're empty, but we have them. There are times in life when things are unfinished and messy but we are loved as much in those moments as we are loved when things are orderly and completed. We journey. We do not arrive here in this life. We journey. And on that journey, we are loved infinitely and completely to such an extent that if we were to grasp utterly the magnitude of that love we would want for nothing. What I hope though is that amidst the seasons when my file is full and there seem to be unfinished items scattered throughout, there will be overwhelming evidence that my wrestling is with a sovereign and good God. It's my prayer that I won't leave the place of those encounters unchanged.

Perhaps you are like me in that there are times when you look around your life and think there's a lot that's left to be done. In those times perhaps the greatest truth we can chew on is this--I am loved. Loved abundantly. Loved utterly. Loved greatly. Loved eternally. Loved unconditionally. Loved amidst the mess.

Pray with me:

Lord, as I look around at the hills I am reminded that my help comes from you--maker of heaven and earth--and maker of the hills. Lord, I know there's not a single thing in the pending file of my life that wasn't first filtered through your hands. Teach me to look not at the hills but at You, The Lover of my Soul. Teach me to surrender to You amidst the wrestling. Amen.

Read with me: II Peter 1: 1-11, Psalm 121

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