gosh… first I owe you an apology. If you are one of my financial supporters or prayer warriors then I haven’t kept you updated in the ways YOU have played a direct role in what the Lord has been doing here in Austin. But even more important than that… whether you are a personal supporter or just a random blog reader who might happen to stumble upon this someday. I have missed an opportunity to give my God, the one and only God, all the glory and all the praise for what HE has been doing in Austin and through my life. Man am I thankful God’s glory isn’t dependent on me. I have failed, am failing, and will continue to fail to communicate His glory well.
But that isn’t going to keep me from trying now….
Even though my thoughts and stories didn’t make their way on to your computer screen via this blog I did manage to write plenty in my journals which as I flip through I realize how all over the place my thoughts and stories have been. All that to say I am now convinced the Lord graciously blessed you as a potential reader by not being exposed to my craziness. I have now “attempted” to sum up the past 8 months of life here… continue reading only at your own risk.
So if you are still reading I ask that you give me grace as I try to articulate how the past 8 months have been life altering.
let me be clear…
it has been exhausting.
The fact is I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I wrote my first entry on RESTORATION. I should of known serving a God with an awesome sense of humor that my understanding of RESTORATION in February was just scratching the surface of what He wanted me to learn. I love that about my God. He is limitless.
Disclaimer: the following may seem really raw.. honest.. vulnerable.. that’s because it is. so here is some insight into the ugliness of my heart and the beauty of His grace.
As I reflect over the past 8 months I realize that as much as I prayed for a heart free of expectations that is exactly what I entered into my internship with- I had just done an amazing job of masking them as other things. These hidden, if I am honest rooted is a better word, expectations came to life through my self-motivation, ambition, and pride. Not only was my heart living in expectation, but I was gripping on to those expectations with all my worth, value, and identity.
Yes you read right…
Worth, value, and identity wrapped up in
MY self-motivation, ambition, and pride.
Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen doesn’t it?
My heart was and continues to be, even on my best day, a direct contradiction to this truth..
Isaiah 64:8 Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are the work of your hands.
My actions and thoughts too often reflect…
Yes Lord I acknowledge you as my Father… but I am the clay.. so I can have some say over how I am molded right? I mean I must know best since I am the clay.
This is how this contradiction played out in real life thoughts…
LORD, I knew that this was going to push me to my limits, challenge my every thought, and demand more of me… but not in this way..riight?
This is when my dark heart becomes bluntly obvious…
Lord you aren’t going to teach me this… by giving me no reward right… not after all I have done…right?
Let’s make it a little more real and a lot more honest…
Lord you aren’t going to teach me this… by making copies, sending emails, and just listening… right?
Lord you aren’t going to teach me this… through feelings of inadequacy and doubting my gifts… right?
….gosh that actually hurt to type…
Clearly my ugly expectations started to surface in my thoughts and let’s be real I’m sure they surfaced in my actions as well. Whew… bless my friends, co workers, and family for putting up with me.
Restoration is absolutely a beautiful picture of Christ’s grace for us, but what I have been forced to dig into is the reality of what comes before restoration. That before restoration takes place there is sanctification. And for those of you thinking sanctification can be skipped out on I don’t recommend thinking that. Because it can’t be.
He loves you too much to let you skip out on sanctification.
Sanctification can be a big church word that can easily be misunderstood.
John Piper helps explain it by simply saying that…
sanctification is progressively becoming like Jesus.
Well… I think I have been clear enough in this blog so far that I am FAR from being anything like Jesus and even further from being holy. If for some reason you doubt this then just ask me for some more evidence, I have plenty. So sweet… now that we have determined that becoming like Jesus is impossible what does this mean?
This means sanctification is hard.
But shouldn’t it be?
Jesus is the Son of God, who lived a perfect life here on earth. He is also God of this universe who sees all, hears all, and knows all. He was, and is, and is to come.
How can I ever amount or much less become like this?
John Piper goes on to say that sanctification is…
Gradually becoming like Jesus, or becoming holy. Becoming conformed to the image of Christ. Little by little, over time — from conversion till Jesus comes back, or you die — you are in the process of sanctification, becoming sanctified, becoming holy.
Jesus is everything I want to be. He is my role model and my hero. I want to spend every day trying to become more like Him… “little by little, over time.”
Thankfully there is no weight on my shoulders to reach the perfection of Jesus. I can find rest in knowing that He is God and I am not. I don’t want to become more like Him because I feel obligated; I want to become more like Him because it is worth it, regardless of the cost.
1 peter 1: 6-9 proclaims that sanctification is WORTH IT.
1 Peter 1:6-9 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Sanctification produces praise, glory, and honor towards my Father and I get to rejoice over that! THAT IS WORTH IT.
When I wrote about restoration months ago it was because I desired to dig deeper into knowing my God and Father despite any circumstance. What I have discovered almost a year later is there is no sweeter way to know Him better than through the purifying process of sanctification.
All of my questions – Lord you aren’t going to teach me this… this way… right?? – have each been so patiently and kindly answered by my Father saying …
actually YES. this is the RIGHT way. this is MY way.
and this is BEST.
The fact is I am continuing to be taught the very lesson that broke my heart and saved me when I was in 8th grade…
we are the clay, YOU are the potter; we are the work of YOUR hands.
A life where I rest in His worth, His value, His identity far outweighs any desire or expectation of my heart. This means regardless of circumstances I must trust that the author of my life doesn’t let anything go unnoticed.
What blows my mind is that 8 months ago when the LORD knew the state of my ugly heart and it seemed that a mental, emotional, spiritual disaster was imminent He looked at me and saw a perfectly planned storm coming in my life.
A storm He had drawn up and written before my existence.
A storm that He held all authority and power over.
A storm that He wanted me to walk through.
From an incredible sermon at Austin Stone…
If we trust our God has the power to stop the storms in our lives, do we trust that He has the power to USE the storms in our life.
Let me tell you.. He has used it. And looking back I would walk through this storm all over again.
What have I learned over the past 8 months?
That I can’t. But He can. And I am so thankful for that.
This is only the beginning of my growth over the past 8 months. There will be more stories to come! Also, I have some exciting news for what is next so get excited!! Life update coming soon!