Thursday, June 18, 2009

Delight in Him, self-denial, seeking pleasure, longings

So many different things going on in my journey right now. Just seems like a lot of shifting, changing, wrestling is going on. BUT I feel optimistic at what will come out of all of this. Pushing through feels so good. I feel breakthroughs happening or about to happen. Seems so many of us are just in a training season - lots of breaking to be molded, shaped.. always hard - but yet "the hard is what makes it good". The tough is what makes us better.

I could probably write down so many thoughts from my regular journal about all the different areas of our life right now - church, relationships, family, whatever.... but just wanted to share some insights of what I'm learning personally.

This past year I've been wrestling back and forth with self-idolatry. Being self-focused. How to have more of God, less of me.... yet still somehow love me and see value in myself as God's creation. Much of what I was processing through was written in this post in March. I felt like God had really helped me then..... but He has given me some fresh insight as well. I was missing a key component back then.

I feel like the devil just loves for us to over-correct. It was like I really realized I had been too self-focused.... so he swung the pendulum totally the other way and made me feel that I could never think of myself ever. Enter in more guilt & standards & mess. Self-denial and unselfishness had become my idol. Weird.

So finally during a 'session' last week :) aka tears, exhaustion from lack of rest & peace & too much thinking, frustration ...... I wrote in my regular journal:

God, something got thrown off. Somehow I am not captivated in your love right now and somedays I even miss a little bit the way I lived pre-Spirit coming in and changing me. I know your presence & love isn't a feeling so it's okay when I don't feel the Spirit's presence & don't feel excited, passionate. I'm mature enough in that way that I have faith even when I can't see or feel what I know is there. But it's more than that. I have a longing that isn't getting fulfilled right now. Something isn't right. How come I felt so broken before when I lived that life without you.... but now with temptation lurking (even if it's very minor temptations) the devil sometimes tricks me into thinking I am missing out??? He tricks me into believing even a little bit that I am missing something. He tries to convince me that you are boring and that you want only suffering from me. Only struggle. Only molding. That you desire to not even be me at all -- but just be a shell that you live in. That's a message I heard for so long. That I just have to deny self so much that I'm fully you and not even me. That there is nothing good in me so I have to empty out all of me and when I am fully you in me then I will be good, 'good enough'. WOAH even writing that I can see how messed up it is. But isn't that the message we send so much of the time? (and then on the other hand - we have groups that have realized how messed up that message is --- and they over-correct this wrong message and make the mistake of uplifting people so much to the point that it takes the focus off of Christ. It takes the focus off our brokeness. We have to stay focused on the gospel truth. That we ARE valuable - but we ARE broken. )

How easy it is to forget we have value because we are God's creation. He didn't give up His ONLY son because He felt bad for us and like, "oh they are pathetic, throw them a bone" --- His son is no scrap, no bone.... He was the most important thing to Him and He gave Him up for ME! Obviously there is something about me worth saving. God desires to be in fellowship with us. And He was willing to go to the HIGHEST extremes of sacrifice to have that. Wow.

As the gospel message once again soothed my soul and reassured me that a) He is good b) He loves me c) I have value and d0 He is worth anything I have to give up

I turned from my temptations and focused on Him. I asked Him though to somehow show me what to do with these longings. Obviously, since I was being tempted and I had a longing not being met - I needed His help. So I asked Him... God do I just push down this longing? Pretend it doesn't exist? Work on self-denial? What?

The next day - my mom gave me a book for my birthday - Desiring God - John Piper. I'll just say.. WOAH. I'm talking a specific and direct and personal answer to those questions from the DAY BEFORE. Here is what I read:

Delight yourself in the Lord (Psalm 37:4) ........... God is most glorified in Him when I am most satisfied in Him (WOW!!! that is truly one reason why God is not as glorified in this country as He should be --- we are not satisfied in Him --- we are so focused on doing things right and staying in the lines --- we are not being encaptured by His love, His beauty, His goodness, Himself that is more filling than the choicest of foods & sweetest of desserts)

The Joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10. Find strength from spiritual joy! May the living God who is the portion and rest of the saints, make these our carnal minds so spiritual and our earthly hearts so heavenly that loving Him and delighting in Him, may be the work of our lives. When delighting in God is the work of our lives - there will be an inner strength for ministries of love to the very end.

Pursuit of joy in the Lord is the key to breaking the power of sin. I know of no other way to triumph over sin long-term than to gain a distaste for it becasue of a superior satisfaction in God. God remainds gloriously all-satisfying. The human heart remains a ceaseless factory of desires. Sin remains powerfully and suicidally appealing. The battle remains: where will we drink? where will we feast? and the answer is clear: Feast on God.

God's passion to be glorified and our passion to be satisifed are *one* experience in the Christ-exalting act of worship.

I used to have this feeling that if I did something good because it would make me happy, I would ruin its goodness. I figured that the goodness of my moral action was lesssened to the degree that I was motivated by a desire for my own pleasure. To be motivated by a desire for happiness or pleasure when I volunteered for christian service or such - that seemed selfish, mercenary. This was a problem because I coudln't formulate an alternative motive that worked. I found in myself an overwhelming longing to be happy, a tremendous impulse to seek pleasure, yet at every point of moral decision I said to myself that this impulse should have no influence. Even with worship - I thought it couldn't be about me at *all*. There must be no self interest. Without knowing, I was removing my heart. In a matter of weeks, I found it was unbiblical and arrogant to try to worship God for any other reason than the pleasure to be had in Him. Not His gifts, but Him. Not ourselves, but Him.

All men seek happiness. This is the motive of every action of every man - even of those who hang themselves. Seeking one's own happiness is not a sin; it is a simple given in human nature. It is a law of the human heart, as gravity is a law of nature.

If asked 20 good men today what they though the highest of virtues - 19 would reply unselfishness. Yet, if you ask 20 christians of old - all 20 would reply LOVE. How did the negative term get substituted for LOVE, the highest of virtues. Ironically enough, unselfishness carries with it not so much even serving good things for others - but in doing without them ourselves! (which is actually selfish - weird) Our abstinence and not others happiness was most important. In there lurks in most modern societies that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing. I would say that has no part in christian faith.

Our Lord, as C.S. Lewis says doesn't desire us to have no desires. He encourages us that our desires are not too strong, but too weak! We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wnats to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine waht is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. we are far too easily pleased.

It is not a bad thing to desire our own good. We don't seek pleasure with nearly the resolve & passion we should!! we OUGHT to seek our own happiness. Our mistakes lies not in the intensity of our desire for happiness but in the weakness and direction of it!

our infinite abyss can only be filled by ain infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God himself. All those years of trying to suppress our longings made us surprise our desire & passion for God!! (wake up!!)

Persistant and undeniable yearning we all have for happiness was not to be suppressed - but glutton on - on God! Praise should be motivated solely by the happiness we find in God. God desires praise from us - not as a vain woman who wants compliments --- but because all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise!

We delight to praise what we enjoy becuase the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment! It is its appointed consummation! God is not worshipped where He is not treasured & enjoyed! Praise is an expression of joy. To NOT enjoy God is to dishonor Him!

God is glorified by our joy in Him!!!

Are we joyful in Him? Can people see the joy He brings to our lives? Can people see our face aglow as on our wedding day?

To say He is not fully satisfying is sacrilege. Have you ask Him to satisfy you? Have you given Him the chance!?

God is glorified when His glory is rejoiced in.

wake up! show people who He is, what He has done, what He can do! How perfect and beautiful and loving He is!!

It was one of those moments when I was so convinced of God's presence I just cried. Oh GOD YOU CARE... you care to answer me!!!!!! It's ABSURDly glorious!! My brain can't handle it!!! This is available to everybody ---- but do you love everybody like this?! This world would be soo different if everybody knew you like I do!! I am undeserving! I praise you God. You are amazing and perfect and you LISTEN and you are the best Father ever. Your love is just AMAZING. I have no words to even describe what you do to me. There is nothing in this world that would tempt me to forsake you in these moments. Oh God I can't believe how fickle I am. How immature & wish washy. God help my unbelief. I believe! I believe in your goodness & your love. God keep me from temptations. Help me continue to pursue YOU to fill all these longings!!! Help me not push down my longings but to feel them to the upmost so you can fill me beyond measure! Help me continue to believe so much that your love is better than anything this life has to offer! I could sing of your love forever!!!! I could sing of your love forever... how great though art!


Anonymous said...

Randi Jo,
Wow! You really shared your heart, thoughts and what you've been going through here. Wonderful! Thank you for being so transparent and open!

Indeed, Papa Jesus Holy Spirit IS walking you through some very good things. Keep drawing near to Him, listening to His whispers, and in the moments when it doesn't "seem" like He is "there" or answering, know in your heart that He is.
He loves you deeply and hasn't "forgotten" about you.

~Amy :)

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