This weekend was the first time in a while that I have felt carefree. We left our normal surroundings, the mundane of the day to day, and we just escaped reality. It was wonderful. As I sat on the front porch of my parent’s cabin, sipping coffee and listening to the birds chirp, I became aware of the fact that I wasn’t as in touch with the Lord as many days. I could not quite figure out why. I started thinking about any unrepentant sin, anything that I had done that I was not laying at the cross. Then, it hit me. It wasn’t that there was anything I had set between the Lord and myself, necessarily, but it was mainly this: I was feeling comfortable. I cringed at the thought, but I knew it was true. You see, I would love to be someone who feels like they are closest to the Lord in the easy times. I would love to be able to say that when things are going great from a worldly perspective, my eyes naturally and immediately stay fixed on the Lord and the things of heaven. But if I’m honest, I know this isn’t true. If I am honest, it is when I am stretched, when I am most uncomfortable, that I am most aware of God’s presence. I can’t speak for everyone, but as I look back on my life, I see proof of this in every season. That has been the thing about this journey with our girls that has been so fascinating, so refreshing. I have been closer to my Savior than ever before. I have been walking through the hardest days of my life; yet have felt a tangible peace in the depths of who I am.
Last week, I had some moments with the Lord that I am not proud of in the least. I essentially told the Lord I was beginning to get scared to continue to glorify His name in our family life. When I chose to be obedient to share our story, I had a moment with God in which I said, “This is your story played out in our lives. You do as You choose and I will continue to give You glory in it all.” I don’t think I realized the challenges that would come in this. To be truthful, as we sat in the hospital last week, a part of me just didn’t want to blog about it; didn’t want to share it with the world. It seemed as if we had been stretched a touch more than I felt comfortable with, and I was almost over being a puppet in it all. Then I remembered Job.
In the book of Job, we see God allow Satan to test Job by stripping him of almost all that he holds dear. Job begins the book assuring and exhorting his friends that it was out of God’s goodness that He allowed these things to happen, but as the book goes on, Job’s desire to know why God allowed the suffering overtook His trust in God and His plans. After Job and his friends blabbered on about this for a while, God steps in and basically goes through the crux of all creation and essentially reminds Job that if he wasn’t there from the beginning of time, if he didn’t know how all of creation was made, then surely he could not question the Creator’s choices and decisions for His own children. The thing is, Job had forgotten that the play, this kingdom, was not based on Job but on God Himself. Oh, how I can relate. When I think about what we are walking through now, if I’m not careful, I can begin to question the “why’s” in light of us being at the center of the story. The problem with that is that we are not. Friends, I realize that is a hard truth to swallow, but I want to remind us that whenever we are so consumed with our circumstances and our own stuff in life that we begin to think we deserve differently, we are in the wrong. The truth is, how do we know what we deserve? As a Christian, I say that I believe that the wages of sin are death and that I therefore deserve death outside of the grace of Jesus Christ. That being said, if we are in the business of thinking that we “deserve” differently, we are right. I don’t want to get what I deserve! We have been spared more than we could ever be worthy of because of God’s mercy through Christ, and I never want to live in light of anything else. So, back to being comfortable.
This weekend, it wasn’t that I was doing anything wrong. But, when I find myself comfortable, I tend to find myself running out the door on God, occasionally thanking Him for a relaxing time, but pretty much checking out altogether. Not sinful necessarily, but it pains me to think of how easily I can fix my eyes on the SEEN rather than the UNSEEN. Romans 8 reminds us that peace comes from setting our minds on things of the Spirit rather than things of the flesh. Why? Because things of the Spirit are eternal. As I often point out to my own heart and yours, a fun weekend fades. Looking forward to things as a gift from God is not wrong, but if we are looking forward to something in order to be satisfied, we are going to be left wanting each and every time. My friend Liz once told me that she sometimes was envious of Hugh and I and what we are walking through with the girls. She said she felt like we had something that constantly puts us at the Lord’s feet, and I could not agree more. In a weird way, I know that this suffering is a privilege. My flesh does not feel that way at all. It is uncomfortable. And truthfully, our physical being will always be uneasy with viewing things in light of heaven. Until we are transformed, we will always be at risk of living in light of this temporary world instead of living in light of the freedom offered through Christ. I used to think that there would be some level of spiritual maturity I would reach that would cause me to not desire the things of this world. The problem with that is I absolutely used it as an excuse to sin. “Well”, I thought. “If I still desire these things, I guess I can’t help it. Isn’t it up to God to make me not want these things anymore?” Yes and no. Yes, it is absolutely God working in you in order to sanctify you; and as you know Him more, your desires do change. What isn’t biblical is thinking that the flesh is just altogether not there once you become a believer. There is a huge difference in salvation and sanctification, which will have to be a post for a different time. We were saved at the cross once and for all, and as soon as we accept that through faith, we are saved. Sanctification is a process that happens overtime, and will continue to be played out until Jesus chooses to bring us to Himself face to face. I believe God chooses to make us uncomfortable in our flesh in order to make us more comfortable in Him. Sanctification. I also believe that it is a beautiful paradox to know that we are dust, but also know we are wholly, fully, unconditionally loved dust made in the image of God. We must be careful to not view one side without light of the other.
So, how to we live in the midst of the comfortable? How do we choose to accept both as blessings and not desire anything but the lot the Lord has chosen for us? The truth is, not everyone is called to suffer at all times. Sure, there is a level of suffering that exists simply because we live in a broken world, but we are not all called to really hard seasons at all times. After all, if we were all hurting deeply, who would serve as the hands and feet of Christ? Who would be there to support the members of the body that desperately need the comfort of others around them? When we are feeling comfortable on this side of heaven, we must remind ourselves the truth of the Word. We must look to the gifts as gifts, but never give them the glory the Giver Himself deserves. We must accept all things as good, and pray for His eyes in each of our moments. That way, when we are faced with trial and tribulation, we do not have to be surprised or in despair because we have already been living with our hands wide open, ready to accept whatever comes our way.
As I sat in my living room this morning, the distraction of doctor and therapy appointments and the reality of my own two hands being in charge of two babies today, I smiled and my heart felt at peace. For you see, I am learning to embrace the uncomfortable. Instead of shaking my fists at heaven or trying to change our reality, I am learning to praise God in the midst of it. He is my Comfortable. He is my Peace. He is why, in the middle of a season of unknowns and consuming disabilities, I am able to stand strong. His strength in my weakness. Only Him. Whether you feel at home with what you are walking through, or you are being stretched to the max, I want to encourage you to stop searching for something different. Whatever your lot, allow Him to change your perspective to viewing it all in light of His kingdom, not the one you wish existed. His way is best. Let’s not give in to looking for petty comforts to satisfy. Let’s look to Him.