Monday, July 26, 2004

Falling Short
I have been grappling with something that I did which is wrong.  I have confessed and prayed and am trying to make things right.  I know that God has forgiven me, His word tells me so, but I am having such a time letting it go.  And what is more, I find it hard to pray for Him to help me as I step through this because I feel that I don't deserve it because I was wrong.  My dear friend Alana, redressed me about that saying, "so you can only ask for God's help if you're perfect?!'  Her words, of course, made me see how ridiculous my feelings were, but they are nevertheless my feelings.  She and my husband have been so supportive and encouraging through this, and I have a hard time receiving that because I know I was wrong.  I could go into more details here about what I did, but I won't because I don't want to get into justifying it.  Instead, I want to share about what I am learning from this all (all-be-it slowly).
The last few nights I've felt pulled to pick up a Brennan Manning book that I read a couple of months ago.  This is what has struck me:
"The sorrow of God lies in our fear of Him, our fear of life, and our fear of ourselves...God's sorrow lies in our refusal to approach Him when we have sinned and failed...
It is one thing to feel loved by God when our life is together and all our support systems are in place.  Then self acceptance is relatively easy.  We may even claim that we are coming to like ourselves...But what happens when life falls through the cracks?  What happens when we sin and fail...What happens when we come face-to-face with the human condition?...Do (we) have a strong sense of self worth? Do (we) still feel like the beloved child?  Or does God love (us) only in (our) "goodness" and not in (our) proverty and brokenness as well?  Nicholas Harnan wrote,

'This (brokenness) is what needs to be accepted.  Unfortunately, this is what we tend to reject.  Here the seeds of corrosive self-hatred take root.  This painful vulnerability is the characteristic feature of our humanity that most needs to be embraced in order to restore our human condition to the healed state.'

The fourteenth century mystic Julian of Norwich said, "Our courteous Lord does not want his servants to despair because they fall often and grievously; for our falling does not hinder him in loving us."  Our skepticism and timidity keep us from belief and acceptance, however, we don't hate God, but we hate ourselves.  Yet the spirtual life begins with the acceptance of our wounded self....
God calls us to stop hiding and come openly to Him.  God is the father who ran to His prodigal son when he came limping home.  God weeps over us when shame and self-hatred immobilize us.  Yet as soon as we lose our nerve about ourselves, we take cover...But God loves who we really are -- whether we like it or not.  God calls us, as He did Adam, to come out of hiding.  No amount of spiritual makeup can render us more presentable to Him...
"Come to me now," Jesus says.  "Acknowledge and accept who I want to be for you:  a Savior of boundless compassion, infinite patience, unbearable forgiveness, and love that keeps no score of wrongs.  Quit projecting onto Me your own feelings about yourself.  At this moment your life is a bruised reed and I will not crush it, a smoldering wick and I will not quench it.  You are in a safe place."
These words are still sinking in for me.  This morning, God's word to me was from Isaiah 43:
"Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior, I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead.  Since you are precious and honored in my sight and because I love you."
I'm trying to stay in the present right now and not keep replaying the past nor projecting the future.  God's grace is truly amazing.  He has answered so many prayers for me today, and I just praise Him and give Him glory.

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