This dance. This balancing act. This complex, complicated, confounding, catastrophically heartbreaking, consummately soul-giving art of living.
The millions of moving parts all seemingly independent yet intrinsically interdependent – relationships, physical health, economic reality, spiritual awakening, goals and dreams, aspirations, battle wounds, prejudices, ideas, choices, decisions… and on and on and on.
How do I know if I’m doing it right?
If the plumb line is perfection, I will always measure off course. And maybe that’s OK. Maybe the gap between the ideal and my reality is where my total dependence on Sovereign grace shines through.
9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
So then am I destined to limp along in the day-to-day, measuring the sum value of my life’s work by how much effort I put forth? To say, “I’ve done my best” – is that enough to rest my head upon at the end of the day? What about when crisis strikes? Or hardship befalls us? What about when dreams go unfulfilled or unspoken or come true but not in the way we’d hoped? What if we secretly sense there’s got to be more, but we scarcely let ourselves breathe the words, because if we admit to ourselves we are not completely satisfied, the want of the thing might swallow us whole?
“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)
How can I find peace, passion, and purpose right here – right now – right where I find myself today?
When my soul gets weary and my heart gets achy and my brain refuses to align with the truth my spirit knows, I have to reach outward and upward and seize a new perspective. Like a little girl with an armful of treasures, struggling to keep the little things from slipping out and falling down, stooping to grasp one only to see another fall, then stooping to grasp the one that fell; barely progressing but trying – trying to bring it all before the One who loves her best…
I put it all before Him – this incoherent offering – my heart’s dreams, worries, plans, intentions, fears, doubts, shames, hopes, passions… lined up like tiny trinkets before the King of Kings.
And He handles my heart ever-so-gently, because He loves me ever-so-perfectly. And Perfect Love pushes back fear. And He paints me a picture of the forest I’d lost in sight of all of the many, many trees; a lush and sacred forest full of His plans, His purposes, His perspectives. And He whispers to me the reminder my soul drinks in deeply:
The essence of this Called Life. The effort and activity of the “well done” is hardly an activity at all. It’s a realignment – an attitude shift – an invitation to REST. To unflinchingly TRUST.
And the Am I doing this right? stems from that place where my branch meets the Vine. Do I yet abide? Remain? LIVE in Him? Am I surrendered?
And here’s the richest part:
The same grace that led the little girl back to the arms of her Father – the same grace that led her to lay it all before Him – THAT GRACE is what shows up in the gap formed by her weakness. That grace is what keeps her tethered to the Vine. All of the pieces of the puzzle were in the asking – in her taking the time to feel and wonder and question.
Because it’s more than OK to feel it all – the concern and discontent and doubt. You sleep deprived mamas and heartbroken sisters and overworked providers… in the moment you turn your heart toward God and ask the hardest questions, you are reaching out for the Vine. And when you lay it all before Him – your own personal incoherent offering – you are choosing to remain. And that’s exactly what He asked us to do.
Does it answer all of the questions? Not at all.
Does it change our circumstances instantly? Unfortunately, no.
But it gives us everything we need to bear the next part – the fruit of what’s to come. It gives us hope for fruit – the anticipation of the answer – the reassurance we need for today.
Take heart, dear ones. And Abide.
5“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.