"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!"

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Oh Nostalgia...

So tonight, I find myself sitting alone at a Starbucks next to my apartment. Just me, my computer, some Spurgeon books, and a drink. I can't help but enjoy and bask in the extreme sense of nostalgia that is consuming me right now. This...THIS is how this all started in the first place. This is how this blog came about. Sitting here right now represents my humble beginnings of being a college student in 2008...sitting out for a season from basketball due to the transfer rules. I had just moved to the University of Florida and away from my comfortable circles full of professing christians and FCA events to boast my piety. There I was, radically changed and transformed, from my wicked heart within, into a new creature that the Lord had awakened out of pride and self-righteousness and unto His perfect, imputed righteousness. There I was, no basketball to lean on (I practiced but couldn't compete or travel with the team). My nights were simple: grab your notebook Sue...here's a pen and a Bible and your A.W. Pink book. Go. And I would be at Starbucks until they shut it down at 12am (oh the beauty of a college town ha) 4 or 5 nights out of the week. Why not? My team was out of town most of the time, and when they weren't my teammates (also my roommates) just lovingly shook their heads when I would come home at such late hours with my backpack of theological goods glued to my back. The Lord had me so wrapped up in His word and Himself I couldn't fathom doing anything else with my time.

I would write for hours. Then come home and translate some of it into a blog post. I didn't know it at the time, but wow, I would have cherished that time a lot more had I known it wouldn't last forever. Who hasn't longed for the joy of their salvation to return and to be so in tuned with what the Lord was teaching them that they were deemed an absolute bore by the world? ha. Seriously though. The memories are like a sweet taste on my tongue. They are like a lingering aroma of something delicious being cooked in the Kitchen. Oh may they never ever fade away. My words are failing me at this point because I don't have the right ones to accurately describe these dear times that the Lord used to mold and shape me. But the beauty is, I don't have to. Any brother or sister of mine reading this right now knows exactly what I am describing, because we have all been there. Some still are. Some will be there again soon. The paradoxical time of being in darkness yet light. Wrestling with weakness and sin, yet glorying in repentance and newness of life. Oh what a gift it is from the Lord.

It's crazy because looking back I know that had I been doing anything else with my time, I would have been disobeying the Lord. Man, His draw was so strong. And thinking about what all He prepared me for as a result of this time, is quite incredible. I was experiencing a couple of situations of extreme sanctification in which the Lord had turned up the fires on my comfort levels and my idolatry of certain things (basketball was one) and also just my dependence on my family and other people. So there I was...just me and the Lord. Such a time of uncertainty for me should have been frightening, but I found myself basking in the presence of Him. Every night I would rush out of the apartment so I could take that ice cold glass of water to my dry, thirsty throat.

This went on for a while. But it didn't go on forever. The pace picked up. The schedule got busy. The callings changed. The distractions ran its course (Praise the Lord for the gift of repentance). So it has always been a struggle of mine: this longing for the times of when my life consisted of that backpack and that pen and raggedy notebook and Jeff Noblit sermon on my ipod. Where did they go? Am I less of a Christian because they have faded?

It is times like these that I am so grateful for the preaching that has come into my life, especially the last few years, that has shifted my sometimes southern baptist moralistic traditions to the scriptures. They have pointed me OUTSIDE of myself and my emotions, actions, and devotions, and instead upward to the Lord. God is not served by human hands. May my subjectivity not be the basis of how I feel, for my stance with the Lord remains objective: I am His. If I was saved by grace, what makes me think it is anything other than grace that keeps me? May I find joy and rest in the promises God has made and the gifts He has given me: the church family and the believing husband-to-be and the sacraments of the Word, Communion, and Baptism which are all PROMISES of God's faithfulness to me, not another opportunity for me to prove my commitment to Him. (I contrast this rest with the "what are you doing for Jesus" rat race).

It is not my intent to say in any way that we should not be committed to spending time with the Lord. Never. I am more stressing the different seasons the Lord brings us through and our proper responses to them. The chief end of mankind is to glorify the Lord and enjoy Him forever. The ways in which we bring Him glory will not always look the same, but they WILL always involve obedience to Him and what He is calling.

You see...had He not called me here, to this lonely table (only 2,500 miles east) 3 years ago with my pen and my Bible, I wouldn't have been prepared for when the busy schedule came and the new callings emerged. It filled me up and gave me the foundation to stand on when the circumstances changed and there I was standing on the battlefield and my teammates were asking me tough questions about homosexuality and the chains of sin.

Praise be to God.

So while I started off this post with the intent to just ramble and reminisce, I think there are some conclusions to be drawn. The Lord brings seasons of different things in and out of our lives. We all can relate. The times when we are pouring with delight in the Lord and His word. The times when we are crawling through the Spiritual desert and begging the Lord to show His face again. Or the times, perhaps most frightening, when we are just nonchalant and distant. The time in which the Lord takes me away from everything and draws me unto Himself, I am certain, will always be the most coveted times for me. They seem to come at times like these (Lane is out of town for the next 8 days) when my time is freed up from my normal routine. I pray that the Lord would continue to draw me in during these times and that I wouldn't waste them on silly distractions which I am SO guilty of doing.

I used to laugh at the ladies that said: "Single ladies, cherish your time of being single, you can never get it back! Take advantage of the preparation time you have, for there is a lot you can do while single that you cannot do as a married woman." I thought, surely that is just something someone would say who WASN'T experiencing the periodic frustrations of being without the love of a man. But haha, I am laughing a little bit right now because I am finding a lot of truth in their statement. Even though I am not married yet, I am in a serious relationship in which marriage is right around the corner. I already barely have any alone time as it is and I don't even share my house with anyone yet! But you see, if we do not take advantage of the time in which the Lord has set apart for just Himself, will we be properly equipped for what is to come? I can only imagine what the joyous and exciting next phase of my life will bring, but I know it will be different. Glorifying the Lord as a wife and a mother looks a lot different than as a basketball player or as a single woman in general. No matter what season I am in, may I never stop spending time with the Lord so he may teach me and mold me and prepare me for these things. May I take heed to my own nostalgic ramblings. Otherwise, I will certainly crash and burn. For it is written: “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I Need the Gospel

There is nothing more terrifying in all of my imagination than being left to my flesh, to my natural self. The thought of the Lord turning me over to the sin that so deeply burns within me is the most disgusting, most disturbing thought I ever can imagine. And yet the Lord has every right to. He has no reason to save me from the depths of depravity that is called Susan Yenser. None. I deserve to be left in my sin to die and be punished eternally for my wicked heart that is set in enmity towards God and towards my neighbor. I fail so miserably in fulfilling the law. I don’t love God with all my heart, soul, and mind, and I don’t love my neighbor as myself. The only time I remotely show progress in doing so, it is Christ doing it through me. Not very often does the Lord show us the true depths of our own sin. But woe be to the one whom He does. Every ounce of my being is tainted with the fall and with the inclination to dishonor my Lord. The reality of Romans 7 has me turning the very same direction that it had Paul and that is to cry out WHO CAN SAVE ME FROM THIS? Who can I turn to that will take me out of this miserable state of flailing around in sin and lawlessness even when the spirit in me does not want to? Thanks be to Jesus Christ, my Lord, who can deliver me from this body of death! The moments when all of Christ’s love and grace and mercy seem to have been removed from you so that you can sit and burn a little in the sting of your own sin, to a Christian, is it not the most terrifying of states? To see sin and to know that you cannot fight it on your own strength, is there any more frustrating of a position? It certainly doesn’t feel like it. It certainly feels like the most hopeless of all situations. To be left to myself in my sins, oh Lord, I can think of nothing worse.

My words only fail me at this point. They don’t do this topic justice. I must turn outside of myself. I, like Paul, do not cry out to myself for the remedy. I must cry out to the only, perfect, redeeming Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fulfilled the Law. He has done it for me. If it wasn’t for His righteousness I would be the savage that my heart was enslaved to be. Even when the Lord lets me feel those chains of slavery that were mine, may it not let me lose heart. Though it may for the moment, may it never keep me so down that I forget to look back up to the righteousness of my Lord that has saved me from myself and from Himself and His wrath.

Don’t give me your bankrupt preaching. Don’t give me a gospel that points me to myself. Don’t even give me a gospel that points me somewhat to myself and somewhat to Christ. It makes me want to vomit right now just thinking about it. Yes, the taste of sin in my mouth and the thought of being preached a watered down message that is pseudo-orthodox mixed in with the latest celebrity pastor’s own thoughts and reason literally makes my stomach turn with nausea. The thought that you would even try to give me more law on top of sincere disgust for the sin within myself, makes me feel hopeless. Don’t give me the Rick Warren message that “God smiles when you be you.” In this state of hatred for the burning of the sin that seems to be hijacking my body and ruining my soul, DO NOT tell me that God is giving me a mulligan to re-do my life. A second chance. Don’t you see??? With this sin that is festering…I will only make it worse the second time around! I need a Savior! I need someone who did it FOR ME in my place while I sit here hopeless and unable to even move right or left without a sinful thought or deed. I need a message that will make me fall down on my face. One that will make me fight like hell. One that rages war on this sin within me and conquers it, not because of my actions, but because of the actions of Another.

I am a Christian and I need the Gospel. So much so that right now it seems so desperate as if I could not breathe another breath without it.