"If God has come in the flesh, and if God keeps coming to us in our fleshly existance, then all of life is shot through with meaning. Earth is crammed with Heaven, and Heaven, when we finally get there, will be crammed with earth. Nothing wasted. Nothing lost. Nothing secular. Nothing Absurd...all are grist for the mill of a down to earth spirituality."
This has been such a long road, I have to tell you. And it is not over, nor will it ever be, as long as I continue walking forward in this strange and beautiful love affair that is my faith. This is my sanctification, my process, this is Him making me holy, one day, one failure, one temptation, one glimpse, one memory, one hallelujah at a time. This is my dance with a loving Father God who has called me forward. It begins and ends with Him.
As you may remember, this journey began in December. I can once again thank my friend S. for catapulting me onto a rough and rocky road of self discovery when he asked me why I was wasting my life. My answer after much thought, was that I had no idea who I was. I didn't know my value, if, in fact, I had any. I was lost. Broken. Left behind. Waiting....for something. And so, in desperation, in heartache, I gambled with the Almighty. The question to Him was simple:
Am I Valuable and can you prove it?
I gave myself a year. I was convinced that this was the question whose answer would transform me, change me, into the steadfast, worthy Christian woman I was supposed to be. You see, I want so much to be whatever it is that I'm supposed to be in order to please this Savior that I am only now coming to know. And regardless of effort, there seems to be nothing I can do to be worthy of Him, try though I might. I can't describe the desperate effort that went into every word from my lips, every thought and hurt and blessing- they were rich in intention and impoverished in result. How can I ever be enough for Him? How can this scarred and wounded soul ever face Perfection and stand?
My triumphs one day would be crushed with failures the next, the proverbial three steps forward. I could never have found God on the path that I was on. That was a road of self worship. Ironically, I never would have found myself on that road either. It was a circular trail of legalistic nonsense; good behavior and worthiness equals God, which in turn equals good behavior and worthiness, which again, equals God...can't have one without the other, and on and on forever. Endlessly, pointlessly. It is absolutely no wonder that my understanding of my value had suffered.
I had been working day in and day out to be good enough for this elite faith to which I'd given my soul. My standing, my inheritance, my blessings and my ability to accept love were based totally on myself and the good works of which I was sometimes capable. I lived every moment for the affirmation it might afford me when a task was finished well, meanwhile reliving a lifetime of failures in my own mind at days end when the lights were out and my family slept. I was haunted by my shortcomings, promising myself and God that I would be different tomorrow, I would be worthy tomorrow, as if sleep erased my sin. It is a heartbreaking nightmare to wake daily and find that you are the exact same person you were when you went to bed.
The reality of sin is that it is not a series of mistakes or bad choices. As S. has said, we aren't mistakers, we're sinners. We can no more be free of this than we can be free of our skin color, the sound of our own voice or our humanity. I can choose not to steal or not to commit adultery. I cannot choose to not be a sinner. It is my souls state. To deny it is to scourn my humanness, to lose all connection with the world around me and in turn, to alienate those among us who would benefit so greatly from seeing His mercy played out to the end.
What I have to this point, failed to understand is that while my value is not increased with good behavior, neither is it decreased with bad behavior. I am not less valuable if I steal or commit adultery and am not suddenly holier if I avoid those things.
My value does not lie in my accomplishments, my beauty, my sense of humor or my talents.
My value, in its entirety, lies solely in my position as a deeply loved, fully redeemed, grace given sinner who has been purchased out of death, swept away by extravagant mercy and placed in the position of a complelety pleasing child of the Most High God.
I have value because of who God crafted me to be and much more in this than in the tiresome braggart I've contrived apart from Him in the role of a striving, grasping, greedy demi-god of a self-worshipping religeon.
It is a beautiful paradox that only when we see how truly UN- God-like we are, how debased and sinful, how spiritually impoverished, how shallow, petty and selfish, can we look to God as the authentic, loving, holy and merciful Creator who designed us. Only then, being firmly grounded in our realistic position to Him, can we see ourselves clearly; as deeply cherished and jealously guarded treasures of the Father.
Our value comes from Him, flows through Him and returns to Him as we come to fully understand His great and impossible love for us, stepping forward from the shadows of self worship and finding finally, the God-given, grace created role we were meant to fulfill: our vocation...
Our deepest Calling.
To. Be. His.
May you know this, too.