Pressing In

Pressing in takes work.

In the past year I have been exploring Spiritual Formation.  Not a detailed definition by any stretch but:

Spiritual Formation is an intentional Christian

practice that has as its goal the development of spiritual maturity

that leads to Christ-likeness.

It is a practice that can include prayer, fasting, scripture study, simplicity, solitude, worship and so on.

It is, quite literally, Pressing In – aligning yourself to God. Inching closer to Him.

And pressing in takes work.  Not work in the “I must earn my salvation” way, rather in the “I love the way I feel when I expend energy to know Christ” way.  Jesus-induced endorphins, if you will.

I used to think that being a Christian meant things would be simpler.  I have a direction to move in and an advocate on my side – I just need to walk in His will and all will be good.

I have been a Christian for forty years and none of it has been simple.

There have been times of disappointment.  When what I thought was promised to me didn’t happen.

There have been times of anger.  When I raged against injustice and waited for God to intervene.

There have even been times of denial. When I said to God, “I’ll go my way, you go Yours.”

No. It has never been simple. It has been something more.  Deeper and richer and more powerful and filled with grace. Turmoil, yet peace. Suffering, but still rest.

Once I accepted that complication (sin) is the way of this life it did become simpler.  I realized I was never promised simplicity.  I was guaranteed pain.  And instead of stumbling through life with disappointment and suffering as my mantle I chose different.

I choose to believe He listens to our prayers.  I choose to believe He longs for us to come closer.  I believe He honours our passionate pursuit of Himself. And through these activities He brings us closer.  He presses us closely to His side.

James 4:8

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

Press in to God and He will press into you.

Advertisements

The Greatest Fears

I used to have an extreme fear of spiders. I say “used to” because I don’t let their existence control me anymore. That doesn’t mean I want them to take up residence in my house.

I digress.

I was deathly afraid of the creepy, eight-legged arachnids. (Random musing: “Charlotte’s Web” was my favourite childhood book. But I became arachnophobic? That might be a whole other blog post.)

One night, in my early twenties, I was alone at home laying on the couch in the dark watching TV when I heard a shuffle across the berber carpet. That’s right – I HEARD it before I saw it! I flung myself across the couch like the floor was lava and flicked on the overhead lights. And there it was – the biggest, ugliest spider I had ever seen.

Realizing I was alone in the house for the weekend and had no one to call to be exterminator, I knew it was either I killed that thing or I was sleeping in my car. The two of us couldn’t co-exist – even in a 2,000 square foot house.

I gingerly creeped around the beast, never taking my eyes off of it while I went for the broom hanging on a hook around the corner. Tiptoeing closer and closer I took my weapon and swung in for the kill.

I missed.

Instead of squashing the hairy creature, my crappy aim gave it time to escape. Right under the couch. The pull out couch. The pull out couch where a spider had hundreds of nooks and crannies to hide in.

By this time I was determined. It was him (her?) or me! In tears and terror I said a prayer and inched towards the couch. It took me two hours and an extremely powerful Electrolux vacuum cleaner, but I came out of the battle victorious. My enemy was vanquished and I was exhausted but exhilarated. And no longer controlled by my fear.

What about the fears you have no control over? Fears that can’t be vanquished in the natural world? Fears which hang up in the rafters of your soul showing themselves only when threatened?

In my 20’s I had three BIG fears:

Singleness
Dependancy
Insignificance

Singleness. Because what was I worth if no one wanted me?

Dependancy. Because if I needed help (fiscally, emotionally, spiritually), what good was I?

Insignificance. Because if I didn’t “do” something amazing in life how could I be important? If I didn’t surpass others or become a success (with a degree, a husband, a career, preferably all three) how could I feel worthy?

Two of these greatest fears have been realized:

I am single.
And it’s okay. My worth is not determined by my marital status. It took many years to say this and believe it. It’s been a hard journey where I’ve often been faced with the “what’s wrong with her?” looks and outright comments in regards to my being undesirable. When it all comes down, however, I know I have followed the path God has set before me and I will continue in obedience to Him.

I am dependant.
In fact, the more mature I become, the more dependant I am. I can’t do this alone – as much as the introverted loner girl inside would like to. There is no growth, no fruit in doing things on your own. I long to be shaped and honed into an instrument which God can use for His glory. On my own I can play a pretty tune, but by being a member of His orchestra I can a be part of a majestic symphony.

One thing I am not is insignificant. Oh, I suppose, in the eyes of the world I lead a quiet life. I am no power player. I create no policy. Control no wealth. Certainly, by these standards, I am insignificant.

But I don’t measure myself against the world anymore. Instead, knowing my life is engraved on the palm of God’s hand proves my significance. My existence is far more important than the natural world will ever know. Quite possibly more than I will ever know or could ever imagine. I was created for God’s glory and in His hand I will walk out that path.

My greatest fears. Realized. Conquered.

Oh, of course there are others. I’m sure there will be fears as long as I walk out this path on earth. There will be times they take over. Other times I will conquer.

In spite of them, in spite of my sin, in spite of the sin of the world…

God is still on his throne. And of this, I will continue to remind myself.