Thursday, February 27, 2014
- Matthew 16:24 (NASB)
There's not a whole lot that I wouldn't do if the Lord asked me to.
Move to another country? In a heartbeat.
Spend my life studying His word and caring for the least of these? Not a problem.
Act like a fool? …
I'm sorry, what? A fool?
The truth: I cringe at acting the fool for God. Now, I'm not talking about foolish behavior as discouraged in the book of Proverbs. I'm talking about foolishness like David's in 2 Samuel:
And David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod. Then it happened as the ark of the Lord came into the city of David that Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart. But when David returned to bless his household, Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, "How the king of Israel distinguished himself today! He uncovered himself today in the eyes of his servants' maids as one of the foolish ones shamelessly uncovers himself!" So David said, "… I will be more lightly esteemed than this and will be humble in my own eyes."
- 2 Samuel 6:14, 16, 18, 21a, 22a (NASB)
Can you imagine what the citizens of Israel must have thought as they saw their king dancing like a madman through the streets in nothing but his undergarments? If I had been in that crowd, my face would've been beet red and I would've turned my face away, embarrassed for my foolish king.
And, yet, God calls us to do things that look foolish. So the question is: Am I willing to deny my pride to do what He asks of me?
He gave me three chances this week to answer.
The first was at church on Sunday, when the pastor invited all those who felt they were in bondage to fear to come to the front and be prayed over. I certainly felt in bondage to fear, and I knew He was asking me to go, but I stood rooted to the spot, paralyzed by pride and fear. What would everyone think of me if I went to kneel at that altar? And I left the church with the weight of my own disobedience on my shoulders, begging for a second chance.
And He gave it to me on Monday in Chapel. At the very end of the worship service, the last song of the set, I spotted from my seat in the balcony a girl walking to the front. She promptly dropped to her knees on the altar. I knew I was supposed to follow her but, again, I stayed put. My pride would not allow me to appear so "foolish" and "weak" in front of all Asbury. And I left cheapen knowing that I had disobeyed again. What if I went my whole life just asking for more chances? Sure, He'd keep giving them, but what if I died before ever taking that step of obedience? Could the Lord say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant" to one who never obeyed? I had a choice to make. I could live in obedience or in disobedience, but not both. I could not obey sometimes and disobey at others. I obeyed or I didn't, and that obedience would define my relationship with God.
And then, Monday night. The third chance. I went to the UK library to study off campus with some friends, and the moment i walked through the doors, I felt an urgency I have only ever felt when I needed to pray fiercely for someone. I was supposed to talk to somebody. I didn't know why, and I didn't know what I was supposed to talk about, but I knew I was supposed to do it. I sat fidgeting in my seat for a few minutes as my friends studied around me. This was much "worse" than the altar call at Asbury. The worst anyone would think of me at Asbury was that I was a tad bit charismatic. At UK, I could be called crazy, stupid, insane, an idiot, a fool. I had to decide: Was I going to obey or not? Finally, grinding my feet into the floor, I stood up, grabbed my backpack, and announced that I would be back, and walked off.
And He took over from there. He pointed out who I was supposed to talk to. He gave me the courage to start the conversation. He gave me the topic (the Psalms, because I had a test on them the next day). The girl I spoke to had a test the next day as well and I encouraged her to pray before taking it, and told her that if she ever wanted to get back into the Psalms (she had tried, but had never really gotten into them), that she should read Psalm 16. A completely random Psalm; I quite literally had no idea what Psalm 16 was, but maybe it was just what she needed.
Later on, when I shared this story with others, they would tell me that I was brave. That I was courageous.
Anyone who has known for me for any amount of time knows that there is no world in which I am brave enough to do something like that. I'm a coward. I'm a scaredy-cat. I run from everything and everyone. The only world in which I'm able to be that brave is the world in which I let Him be brave in me.
He is faithful. All He wanted from me was the first step. The only thing I did that night at UK was stand up. That's it. He did the rest. All He needed was my will to meet His Spirit.
Since Monday night, I have been asked to do more strange and terrifying things than ever before. Go down to the altar during chapel and pray for someone. Eat with my professor (who terrifies me, simply because he's a professor) at lunch. Talk for an hour and a half with someone hardly know and share with her some of my most vulnerable life experiences. Stop setting an alarm in the morning. Yes, I have stopped setting an alarm, and started praying before bed every night, "God, wake me up when you want me up." Sometimes He'll wake me up with time to get to morning prayer. Other times, He wakes me up in time for class. The point is that He is faithful. I have not missed a class yet, and I trust Him to wake me up when I need to be up.
Not setting an alarm looks foolish.
Going really deep with someone you don't know looks foolish.
Going to the altar in the middle of a chapel service looks foolish.
Talking to someone random about the Psalms looks foolish.
But I am willing to look the fool for the glory of God.
Saturday, January 25, 2014
The longest I had ever fasted was two days.
Until last week.
Over the past several months, God has been making me more and more aware that I do not understand relationships. I don't understand how to love people selflessly. I don't understand how to need someone without being dependent on them. I don't understand how to have boundaries that are not walls.
I have been praying fervently for over a month now, hours daily, that God will teach me how to be in right relationship, first with Him, and then with other people. That He will fix my heart that doesn't understand love and trust and friendship.
A week and a half ago, I hit a breaking point. I was tired of constantly being anxious about friendships. I was tired of being unable to love people without feeling loved in return. I fell on the floor of my room and cried, cried out to God, "You have to fix me because I've tried and I can't fix myself."
And He said to me, "I am fixing you. Don't eat."
He didn't say for how long. He also didn't say that a week into my "regular" fast. I would be "people fasting."
It started with a friend saying, "You need to take a break from me."
And she was right. So I've been taking a break from all of the people in my discipleship group this week that I have come to love and cherish and depend on over the past months and instead spend that time with God.
The people fast has been ten times harder than the food fast. And I'll admit that at the "You need to take a break from me," I ran to my room and cried for hours.
I was trying. Couldn't they see? Couldn't they see that I was doing everything I possibly could to be less dependent, to learn how to do friendship the right way? I was praying like crazy, I was constantly reminding myself to be more concerned about what I could give than what I could get, and now I was even fasting.
And my anger, of course, eventually turned to God. And, oh, I was angry. Why haven't you fixed me!? I yelled. I'm trying! I'm trying to seek You first; I'm trying to do things Your way! I'm doing the best that I can! What more do you want me to do!?
And a sneaking suspicion finally came into the light and made itself known. What if He never fixes me? What if I just never learn to do relationships right? Do I trust Him? Do I really trust Him?
You see, I have to decide before I see results that I trust God with my broken and distorted heart.
There is no faith involved if I trust Him only when I can see what He is doing.
Do I believe that He is going to patch together my tattered heart so that I can be in right relationship with Him and right relationship with others?
Yes. I believe it. I believe it even when it's hard. I believe it when I can't see it. I believe when it seems like He's not doing anything. I believe it even when there's parts of me that say, You're being ridiculous. You will never be healed. You will never be fixed.
I don't yet understand why God wanted me to abstain from solid food for two weeks.
I don't understand why I had to be away from some of my closest friends for a week.
But I don't have to understand.
I just have to trust.