The process is not quick, and at times it is rather uncomfortable... which makes me want to rush it along! But God is a gentle leader, and He takes me by the hand and walks through it with me. Even when He seems silent, I still know He's there.
Last Sunday at church we sang a song called You Alone Can Rescue, and the first verse goes like this:
Who, O Lord, could save themselves?
Their own soul could heal?
My shame was deeper than the sea;
Your grace is deeper still.
The third line, "My shame was deeper than the sea," really resonated with me, as I had lost my temper with my boys when we were heading out the door for church that morning. Tears started to fill my eyes. Then I sang the line, "Your grace is deeper still"—but the Spirit nudged me when that line didn't resonate as strongly as the one about my shame. It became abundantly clear to me that my shame is bigger in my mind than God's grace!! Yikes! So I've been praying about that...
I just finished reading a book by Larry Crabb called The Pressure's Off. This has been part of my "process" too. The author points out that many of us Christians can get hung up seeking God more for His blessings than just to enjoy His presence, and how we get caught in a trap of trying to do everything "right" so God will bless our lives (i.e. follow these steps for a perfect marriage, perfect kids, etc.). But that's not accurate theology! God is sovereign and He has a purpose and a plan for everything in our lives, especially the difficult and painful stuff.
Here are a few quotes from the book (from ch. 19) that revealed my heart on a few things...
As a culture, present-day Christianity has redefined spiritual maturity. ... We're so committed to discovering and applying God's principles for making life work that we no longer value intimacy with God as our greatest blessing. ...
We seem more interested in managing life into a comfortable existence than letting God spiritually transform us through life's hardships.
...Jean Pierre de Caussade...believed that everything that happened to him, both blessings and trials, led him to God.
...all things in life...are part of a grand design. They're intended by an uncontrollable, mysterious, and relentlessly single-minded [God] to immerse us in His relational life.
Doesn't that just cut right down to the bone? It helped me see that I had gotten off track. My deepest passion in life is to love God and live my life for Him, but somewhere along the line (during my difficulties with parenting and my self-loathing) my focus had shifted to my desire to have an easier life, and seeking God more for blessings than simply enjoying being with Him! I'm glad my eyes have been opened to this. It is changing the way I pray. Not that I don't ask Him for help anymore, but I am trying to focus more on Him and His wonderfulness than on what He can do for me. It is a beautiful thing!
Lord, I do not want to settle for the happiness that comes from an easier life. I want to encounter You more than I want blessings from You!
[Sorry my posts are often so long! I try to be concise...but I imagine it as being like sitting down for coffee with you in fellowship. ☺]