"Oh to Grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be.
Let thy goodness, like a fetter
bind my wandering heart to Thee!"

Monday, January 21, 2008

Fish Out of Water

Even though I have a million and twenty things to do right now I wanted to take the time out to write a quick post. I don’t know if it is going to be a long or short one, or what it is really going to be about in particular…I just know that I need to write something right now in this moment. I am a bit overwhelmed, to put it frankly. Ok, I am extremely overwhelmed. I have a million different things running through my head and if it wasn’t for the Lord and knowledge of His sovereignty over all things I would probably have already gone insane by now. Do you ever have those moments? Well pray for your sister because it is definitely one of those times right now. I guess the only thing I can do at this point is start trying to put these thoughts out on paper (or blog), even if they don’t make much sense…they have to come out. So bear with me as I share my burdens….

1) My best friend and brother in Christ just left not too long ago after visiting me for the weekend. My time with him is so edifying and such a HUGE BLESSING in my life, it is always hard to say goodbye. I don’t always understand why we have to live a 6 hour drive away from each other and it always gets to me a little bit. Do you have those people in your life that were there during the time when the Lord really REALLY started to draw you in? They were the ones that spoke truth to you no matter how hard it was to hear and no matter how much it hurt your pride to hear it. They were the one that loved you enough to go to the Lord on your behalf because your right standing with a holy perfect God was more important than flattering you and feeding you a watered down, feel good version of the truth. They were the ones that God placed in your life during that specific time because He knew that the world would call you crazy….and there stood that person reassuring you with the truth of God’s Word and reminding you that you aren’t the only one that has gone through those tough times. I know, I kind of got carried away a bit, but its true. He was/is that for me and I know that my fellow brothers and sisters can attest to this feeling: anytime you depart from a fellow servant of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, it is hard. Reminds me of Paul’s letters to Timothy. It always was emotional for him to depart his brothers and sisters in Christ and he talks of the many tears shed because of it, and his longing to be with them in person even though the Lord had other plans for him. 2 Timothy 1:3 I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of you in my prayers night and day; Greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy.

2) I am overwhelmed also because it is 8:30 at night as I write this and I have so many lectures to watch for my two online classes and I have no desire to do it at all. What do you do when the homework has piled up yay high and yet, the only thing you have the desire to do is curl up in bed and read one of the many books written by J. Gresham Machen or John Calvin or Arthur W. Pink that are STARING at you from your bookshelf. Either that or listen to a great sermon or two by Paul Washer or some other edifying broadcast or dive straight into the Word of God to see what nugget of treasure He has for you. But I know that going another night of neglecting my studies will put me so far behind. This just leads to the bigger issue of what the heck am I even studying? There are times when I look around and I kind of feel enslaved to this whole college idea. No, I don’t feel like this ALL the time, and maybe this is just an exaggerated moment because I am feeling so overwhelmed. But there are definitely times when I realize that I have to be careful about who and what I am letting control my life. The more I learn about God, the more in control I want Him to be…this is obvious because His ways are pure and righteous and just flat out waaaay better than mine. And even though I push and pull and fight for my will to be done…God ultimately brings me back to His path. This hurts like crazy a lot of the times as discipline and rebukes are there to meet me, but I am so grateful for it. The Bible says that God’s children don’t shy away from discipline, in fact they want it. You kind of have to be out of your mind to say something like that, which is why you have to be changed into the like-mindedness of Christ in order to know what the Bible means when it says that. This like-mindedness comes through sanctification which is the promise God makes to all who are justified by faith in Him. Sanctification is the process of being made into the image of Christ and it is quite possibly the most grueling and yet joyful process of all time. That is to be another post at another time. But there are times when I look ahead and see two more years of college and want to scream. Why? Because I know that it means that for two more years I will be consumed with the hectic schedule of balancing school and basketball and that a lot of this time will be accompanied by the feeling of, man I want to read a book and watch a sermon, when the circumstances just won’t permit for it. This makes me sad…and thus…overwhelmed. That’s what I get for taking thought for tomorrow. It is a sin…and I need to repent of it because I don’t know what will happen tomorrow…sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. I just really don’t want to go back to serving the things that God has delivered me from, which included the bondage of living my life for the praise of others and for myself. It was miserable, and I just want to be free from that bondage, and well sometimes I feel like college suffocates me in that sense. I want to be free to follow Christ with all my heart, soul, and mind with no inhibitions holding me back. In a way college brings me those opportunities to do just that and to serve (things that I am so grateful for and wouldn‘t trade anything for), and in another way I still feel the magnitude of the fact that playing a college sport can have such a gripping control of your life. They want your time, energy, passion, heart, soul, life and did I mention time? I can’t just up and do something that regular students can do…and as awesome as that is at times, it is also scary. But I know that the Lord has placed me in this situation for a reason, and it is my duty to do all of this to further His kingdom. And I don’t say that lightly (I used to profess that with my mouth but now the burden of the calling is real.) I thank God for His truths because it is the only thing that can bring true, meaningful, lasting peace.

Ok, I think I am going to stop right there…I could go on and on because there are certainly more things going on in my head. But it comes down to this: I feel like a fish out of water. You ever have those nights where you are so aware that your home is not anywhere on this earth, but rather up in heaven? Wow. I definitely feel like that right now and it is really hard to deal with. It is such a blessing though, it is just hard at the same time. I look around and I want so badly to be up in Heaven with my Maker, even though I know that because of Jesus Christ I can now spend time with Him here on earth too. But seriously, I don’t want to study right now, I want to be in communion with God. I don’t want to do anything really, but bask in His holy presence. And I look around and I don’t see anyone else struggling over this, they seem to be flowing down stream with no problems, and yet here I am…total fish out of water. The truth behind all of this is that I now have a new life in Christ. So every time I feel the old life trying to suck me back in I get really overwhelmed. But then comes the truth that sets me free: I don’t have to serve the lusts of my old life. I now have a new one that delights in the joy that is derived from the Lord and not from the things of this world. The result: whenever I am pulled back into that old life I feel really out of place…like a fish that is plucked from the water. It is not my home and I don’t want to be there. I desire fellowship with Christians who are following after God. Perfectly? Nope. We mess up and we still fall into the traps of the world…but we hate it. We strive against sin and the distractions that are there to bring us back to our old bondage. That doesn’t mean you grow cold and withhold grace from those that are around you, it just means you desire the opposite of what the world has to offer and you don’t compromise. Sweet fellowship with other believers and reaching the lost through the power of the Gospel….that is the essence of a new life with Christ.

And at the same time, I am being convicted heavily of the sin in my life right now and it is also overwhelming. I want so badly to be delivered from this body of death. I am tired of sinning and doing the same stuff over and over again when I know it is not pleasing to the Lord. I am finding myself repenting and being burdened over the same things, and I hate it. It makes me sick. How can you think about school and basketball and all this other stuff when all you want to do is be free from anything worldly that holds you back from sweet, pure communion with our Holy and righteous God? Who I want to be and who I am is not matching up. And I know that is the great dilemma for the Christian who is seeking after the things of the Lord, because we still battle with our old nature that we want so badly to demolish once and for all. God promises to do that for us on the last day, and it is that promise that gets me through the day. I realize that many people would read what I have written and just tell me to lighten up, but the truth is I can’t. The truth is too real in my life to deny it. The calling to be conformed to the image of Christ is too strong. And one thing that the Lord has taught me today is to have a whole new appreciation for His grace. I thank the Lord for it, and I realize now that I cannot function without it. No seriously, I am not saying that flippantly. I cannot function one minute without the grace of God. If it wasn’t for His shedding of blood for those that believe in Him, I don’t know what I would be doing. Well, one thing is for sure I would be ignorant to the greatest gift of all time, and well, for that I am grateful for these struggles. If feeling like a fish out of water is what I have to endure as a result, then so be it. I will endure it with joy my friends. I will consider it pure joy to suffer for His cause; I am so grateful for this gift because I know that I have done absolutely nothing to deserve it. In fact God is revealing so much to me about His grace that Lord willing, I am going to have to write a whole separate post on it soon. Yes, it is simply that amazing. I hate that there was a time in my life when I treated grace like a flu shot. It was like I had it so why bother worrying about it. What a sad thought. I am pretty sure the Lord is allowing me to struggle over these things in my life so that I am even more aware of the grace He has given me. And even more reminded of how amazing my God really is. This post was all over the place, and for that I apologize, but I end it with a prayer:

Lord, please be with your children. Please bring a clarity to our minds and hearts as we live in this world physically, yet have our affections set on the things above. And I pray that anytime we start to feel at home here you will rebuke us, no matter how uncomfortable it is at the time. Comfort in the things of this world has proved to be a slippery slope for me, so please keep me from taking that step. And as we serve you, please help us to balance our earthly duties with our heavenly convictions. Allow time for us to spend all the time with You that is necessary for our souls. Refresh the weary with your faithful promises from Your word as we struggle against the powers and principalities of this world. Thank you for all the many blessings you have given us here in this life, and help us to take none of them for granted, but also remind us of the wretchedness you have saved us from by Your wonderful grace. Though overwhelmed with circumstances I thank You that we are able to take refuge in Your promises. Give us grace and mercy to endure until the end, Lord, and thank you for the joy that comes only from You. Amen.


Paige said...

I had a person like that in my life and I married him.

Susan Chaplin said...

Haha, I was going back through the blog tonight and saw this comment...I love it. I married him too :)