Monday, September 03, 2007

In The End, Your Love Is All That Really Matters

I just went back and re-read my sniveling little post from yesterday. I sound as ungrateful and ugly as my heart has really been. Shame on me. I thought of deleting the post, but inspired by another friend's vulnerability at sharing his heart for all to read, I am willing to face my crappiness and tell the world that without Christ, I am an ugly, icky person. In Him, however.....well, that's a different story, and one that God, in His grace changed in my heart yesterday.

I am so blessed, we all are, beyond words and measure. The houses we live in, the food we eat, the cars we drive are all testimony to the material riches that God has seen fit to give us custody of. But they are NOTHING compared to His glorious riches in Jesus Christ, by whom we have access to all power and authority in heaven and earth, and in whom we are glorious, adored, adopted sons and heirs of a Most High King. It is that reality and nothing else that I need to cling to and hold high, my banner of love.

Speaking of love - this trip has been a real catalyst for God to work on my heart in this area. Not so much about how I love others, though that has been shown to me as the natural consequence of how filled or empty my heart is with His love. He has shown me that my heart can be an empty cistern, or an empty stomach more like it. When it is full, rich with God's love, there is contentment and nourishment and I can do, with energy and strength, all that He asks me to, confidently. Empty it however, and the dirty, bubbling acids of my own selfish nature are all that is left in this hollow well and their aroma is not of kindness or grace but of hurt, anger and frustration. When I have nothing to give, am not filled with God's own love, I am useless at best, and hurtful more often.

That's where I've been lately. And I don't mean this past week lately either - I'm talking for the past six months. I have let myself be robbed of a love that is freely given and abundantly surrounding me. Not the love of other people, necessarily, though it can include that. I'm talking of the amazing, grace-filled, sacrifice-driven, unbordered, abounding love of God Himself, made possible through the merit and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

On this trip, Jon asked me a poignant, if not hurtful question. He said "Is it so hard to believe that someone just wants to love you and bless you?". This was aimed at my refusal to get our schedule off track so I could go grab some gluten-free dinner, and was rooted in stubbornnes and willfullness. Two things I'm pretty darn good at. The minute those words escaped from his mouth, I knew the point at hand was not my own bratty attitude and childlike behavior, but so much more than what was apparent on the surface. That night those words stayed with me so much, that by the time we got to Dave & Diane's house, I was crying out to God on the inside to break me, humble me and fill me with His love through my stay with the Herdles & Normans.

Then, yesterday, at church, during a simple worship set of two people on the guitar, God reminded me of that divine question. "Trinette, why do you find it so hard to let yourself be loved? By me?" I knew, that for months and months I have been pushing Him away, refusing to believe that He really does love me with anything more than an obligatory feeling of scant sacrifice. He loved me enough to die on the cross, but that's where it ended, has been the lie that's been simmering in my heart for a long time now. And the realization of it wasn't anything new. It's something God's been trying to tell me for a long time now, but in hurt and fear I have ignored that voice, ignored that question. It wasn't till someone I know, and do love, asked me it, out of their own hurt, confusion and frustration at me, that I could really see how deeply my refusal to take God's love had changed me as a person.

I broke down into sobs. Not just tears, but sobs. As I excused myself to the restroom, I just knew that somehow, someway, the Lord needed to work in this area of my life and He was more than ready to.

Of course my first inclination is to turn to those around me to fill that gap, that void and to be God's tools for showing me His love. Isn't that what I've always done? Hungered for love? Searched for it in a million places, sometimes healthy, sometimes not? No wonder I have been an empty cistern, for the love this world or people offer, even godly people, is empty and changing, like we people so often are.

At the Everett AquaSox game, Kirsten and I had a great conversation, in which I admitted to her that this trip was so hard for me because I love their family so much, and desire to be part of that kind of warm relationship, yet I know God is calling me to find my love and fulfillment in Him alone. It is what He is telling me loud and clear. Other people can love me, but till I accept how very much He does, I will never truly feel warm, safe and confident. The acidity of my broken, bruised heart will always bubble up to the surface and wound myself, and others, till I am ready to let God fill it Himself, with the water that will quench a lifetime of thirsts.

I am so scared. I don't know how to do this thing. I am afraid of forgetting how and failing, as I always do. But in that failure is again God's great love, for it is He alone that can pick me back up and set me aright, in love and tenderness as a Father only can.

I am scared that faced with affirmation from so many sides, I will fall back into old habits of seeking acceptance and love in places other than Christ. An ex-boyfriend who is telling me how much he cares and wants to give it a go, and how much I mean to him. He is a mere counterfit of what I truly want and deserve, for his own heart is not God focused or even God desiring. Then there is the matter of my own desire to share a lifetime of ministry and service with the one man I really do care about, and who warms my heart with his own proclimations of faith and his easy smile. There is the fear that I will seek love from anywhere I can find it, an all too easy trap, instead of diligently asking God to show me His own love, even though it means listening, waiting and believing in faith that He will.

I can look back on my life and see themes, times where God has wanted to teach me a certain something, and it has taken more than one lesson to get it across. His perfect love for me is the theme He is bringing me through at this stage of my life. It is coupled with the great hope that at the end, I will have learned it well and gracefully and that the reward will be His allowance to share His love with others. The latter part of that is not so much a hope as an expectation, for sharing His love with other people is one of my greatest desires, calling and commandments. What an honor it will be to finally do it right!

In the meantime, there are four little kids I can hear traipsing around outside my bedroom door. Three boys, full of life, energy, and who have dubbed themselves the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Herdles", and one precious little girl who is all fingernail polish and princess stories. I love them so much my heart overflows for my baby brothers & sisters in Christ. There is a wonderful mom, who has sacrificed her own desires to stay in Minnesota to obediently follow her husbands lead, and love him through this service. She is my dearest friend and I can't wait to wrap my arms around her and tell her how proud I am of her example. There are grandparents, wise and silver haired, who I long to learn from. There is so much love that awaits me outside this door, but the love that is sitting on the table next to my bed, labeled "Holy Bible" is the one I must delve into first. For it is the greatest, the strongest, the most enduring love of all. I can only pray it will fill my heart today, with overflowing rivers of love.

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