My heart is somewhat heavy today, and I am in a bit of a mood. These types of sorrowful/nostalgic/feeling-my-failings kind of moments hit me sometimes, but I am feeling the deep abiding grace of Jesus Christ. And His Word tells me to always take it back to Him. He tells me plainly that my heart is deceitful above all things and that He will shoulder my burdens if I but let Him.
So, I’m going to let Him. Really let Him. I’m going to embrace His love for me and His mercy despite me and His always and forever brand of redemption. I embrace it right now and turn my heart to what I feel led to do instead of towards what my flesh is clamoring for.
I set the stage earlier this week to share my journey through the series A Beautiful Design being preached on by Matt Chandler at The Village Church. Without further delay, you will find the highlights that God just reached out and shook me with as well as my reactions to some of the study guide that can also be found on The Village Church’s website associated with the specific sermon.
I literally cried out and lifted my hands to God when Matt Chandler in Part 1 of A Beautiful Design said the following, “I will say this as we launch off into this series. If the church must be anything, she must be a safe place for the gender confused and the sexually broken. If she is not safe for that, then we do not believe our own message. We are all broken, all in need of salvation, all in need of grace, and to take a particular struggle and put it outside the bounds reveals we don’t quite understand what it is we
believe. Then we’ll take other people’s sins more seriously than we’ll take our own. It’s wicked.”
Right there, summed up in simpler words that I could ever come up with, is my heart. MY HEART. As he spoke those words, and I watched it on my phone, the power of that truth resonated deeply in my soul. Mostly because I have been and can still be one who is confused and sexually broken.
He also states this, “He places us there in this small solar system on this insignificant planet. If we’re honest, Earth isn’t even all that impressive for our own solar system, much less our own galaxy, which is just a smaller galaxy in the expanse of the universe. Maybe you’re going, “How arrogant is it, in the expanse of the universe, to say that what’s going on on this little rock is the point?” I will say this about the Word of God. Throughout the Scriptures, God delights in the small, the fragile, and the weak.”
I have had these exact thoughts at times when I get caught up in the vastness of the universe. When Matt Chandler spoke those words at the end, pointing to the Scriptures and how God relentlessly turns to the small, the fragile, and the weak, it all made so much more sense to me. Suddenly, it did not seem arrogant. It instead deems like it is all part of His design.
Just so this post doesn’t become epic in proportion, I’m going to turn now to some of the questions in the study guide. I will not list all of the specific questions, but I will give summaries of my own answers and thoughts.
– The most alarming change in the world since my birth has been my awareness. I’d, of course, like to cite some powerful event or specific topic, but in honesty, this is the answer that keeps coming back around in my mind. Awareness. I see, clear and cloudy, more and more every year I am alive, and I begin to understand the inborn wisdom that comes with age.
-God was involved in Creation. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus is the reason for Creation, the solution to the Fall, and the end game. I think that is what it means that “in him all things hold together.”
-God created for His glory. So that it may be declared. Creation is a constant reminder of God, which is part of the reason it is so easy for people to slip into worshiping creation instead of the Creator. Humanity, in particular, was created to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over it.”
-Our culture takes too many views of Creation for me to possibly react to. I’m mostly convinced at this moment that our culture believes itself to be god. That following what the majority believes is right or is acceptable somehow demands my individual allegiance and tolerance and anything short of that is ignorance and bigotry. Yet, my culture doesn’t have a clue what it really believes. It is constantly at odds with itself sowing not much more than confusion, fear, and strife. These views are very different than what God has designed. He designed this world with order, purpose, clarity. Before sin, it was HARMONY and not dissonance that reigned supreme.
-This world is ever-changing and sometimes it leaves me feeling quite bereft. But of course that is the direct result of orienting my self to something that cannot stay the same. When I orient myself to God, I always get clarity, calm, purpose. I am never left feeling alone when I put God at the center of it all. Orienting myself to God’s good design has led to greater understanding and love for those around me and the person He made me to be. It has freed me from the struggle within myself to gain some sort of higher awareness or supreme self-actualization and instead given me permission to pursue what God has for me. There are many areas of my life, however, that are completely out of line with God’s design and some of these areas still riddle me with guilt, shame, and push me towards disobedience.
-God’s good design is simply that…it is good. It is the best. It cannot be rivaled by the world’s false versions. The world has changed because of sin. Because self has sought to displace God on the throne. And we feed it. I feed it. Every day. When really, I want it to starve. God’s design matters because it is the pathway to God’s peace and to His blessing and to His will. It is the path that brings the most glory.
-Yes, I do struggle to accept God’s design for the world. I really do sometimes. When I read Genesis 1, it is marvelous. Breathtaking. Reminds me of God’s infinite-nature and my smallness. Then I get caught up in my senses. In what my brain processes as “real.” I war within between empathy, desire, knowledge, rationality, and a desire for harmony with others. I do not like to feel at odds with the desires of other people’s hearts when it is hard to see the bad in the midst of all their good. I don’t even really know how to put my struggle into words other than to say that I want more than anything for their happiness/comfort/desire to be enough for God to save them just like I want it to be enough for God to save me. I struggle with wanting to put aside the parts of God that make me recognize that it is not about me, but it is always about Him. I struggle with choosing the hard path instead of the easy and familiar. So, I probably struggle with how God defines what is good and how I define it and how the world defines it and surrendering repeatedly to what God says is good because He, after all, designed good, and I simply, experience it.
-This world deeply affects my interactions within the Christian community. Our culture is one of social isolation. It is mostly about aligning at any given time with others who believe as we do and think as we do and want as we do. When these desires shift, we shift. This is actually something that I rail against in the Church. I despise the casual nature with which we so often approach each other. As if, we are pleased to be acquaintances, but we find it completely unacceptable to get into the nitty-gritty grime with each other. As if Facebook statuses and Twitter and blogs and momentary hellos at Church are enough to spur each other on. I recognize that this problem starts with me. I have the power to change it in my self and no one else, but this is my prayer, right now, that the Church would learn what it means to be so real with each other and with God that we shout Jesus from the rooftops and not just on Facebook.
-There are many areas where I look to the world for direction, but there is one area where I want to focus on surrendering myself to God and pro-actively addressing my problem. I gravitate towards the world for pleasure. Somehow believing I will find in games or books or videos or news the answer to the disquiet in my heart. Yet, there is only one place where that disquiet eases into peace and that is in the presence of my great God.
I find this sermon series to be so rich particularly because of my own struggle in this area. I have searched for happiness for too long in the pleasures and indulgences of the flesh…from games to sex to anger to sarcasm to dishonesty. I reveled, once upon a time, in my darkness. Embracing it with little reservation. And then, when God blew away that darkness with the light, I shied from His light. I still do sometimes. I shy away from His brilliance sometimes because it burns. It brings to ashes things I believe to be precious. It makes kindling of things I wish to hold on to for eternity. It puts me into my proper place as a created being, and it rattles me. Makes it hard to keep looking. The longer I look, however, the more clear He becomes and the easier He is to hold on to.
What sucks about that is I am naturally inclined towards distraction. Any time I seem to be on the cusp of really giving it up…really surrendering fully and dying to my self, I let myself get pulled in and think, “Just this once…”
“It’s not really that bad.”
So many things run through my head when I’m facing down self/flesh in a moment. And even when I give in, I know that God is the answer. He is where I should have ran. But I am not in the habit of running to God to give me answers. And I need to be. I desperately need to be.