I'm a girl who likes to have it together. I struggle to admit I'm wrong, I hate having to ask for help, and I confess my struggles only after they have been "overcome." When confronted by a situation that I cannot handle or a goal I cannot meet, I’ll fight my way back to a situation I can control. I abandon goals, I deny my ineffectiveness, and I make to-do lists.
I have had friends and loved ones struggle with depression and anxiety. Through their pain, I've learned a lot about the illogical and overwhelming nature of depression. But I've never been "that" person. I will shamefully admit that I always thought I was too strong and too "together."
However, for a few months now, my joy has gone AWOL, replaced by cynicism, bitterness, and fear. I don’t know if you’d call it loneliness, malcontent, doubt, or depression, but I have not been okay, and I haven’t had it together.
I hope you will believe me when I say, God is my life. This is why it is so devastating to feel that He has gone far, far away. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “you will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
Was I not seeking Him with all of my heart? Which part was I withholding?
“All of it,” was the crushing answer. “You seek My ends, but not My means. You seek My Name but not My Life. You love My thoughts but not My ways. You seek Me through the filter of your own abilities, on your own terms, in your own timing. You withhold all of your heart from Me because you only offer it conditionally. I am a God without conditions.”
With all of this still churning inside me, I spent New Year’s Day reading The Hole in Our Gospel, a book by Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision.
In his book, Richard Stearns references a passage in Isaiah where the frustrated children of
“They seek me daily and delight to know My ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God; They ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near to God. ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Isaiah 58:2-3
“…Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then…you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ Isaiah 58:6-9
(You ever have one of those, “Ohhhhhh…” moments?)
If you poked around this blog at all, you might notice that I have made something of a hobby out of humanitarianism. In theory, I avidly support the humanitarian work of organizations like Compassion International and World Vision. I pray, I give money, I blog, and I tweet.
Yet because of how He’s designed me, this isn’t enough for me. I’ve known this for a while; if I’m honest, I’ve known this since I was 12. Since then, my faith has gotten jammed up somewhere between His words and my life. It has gotten clogged by my inability to make my faith “work” and my unwillingness to let God work through my faith in His ability, on His terms, in His time.
James 2:26 compares a faith without works to a body without a spirit, a zombie. I don’t intend to get into a faith/works conversation except to say that the one simply cannot exist independent of the other, it just dies.
I can’t help but wonder if, lately, God just hasn’t allowed me to feel the dead weight of my faith. I wonder if He’s letting me feel the pain of an unfulfilled calling and an empty gospel. I wonder if He’s letting me see the way He would have me to worship Him.
“Is this not the fast that I choose…?” He says. “…then you shall call and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say ‘Here I am.’” Isaiah 58:9
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