I’ve never been the kind of girl who holds back and hopes that what I want will come to me. I’ve pretty much always been a go-getter. I guess my parents fostered that “you never know until you try” mentality in me.
In relationships if I was interested in someone, I’d put myself in a situation where I could meet him(with the help of some trusty friends). But once the ice was broken, I’d pretty much be honest if I liked the guy. Friendships worked the same way. If I wanted to be friends with someone, I just said so. If I didn’t, I just tried to avoid them. It was much easier that way. The point is that I’ve always pursued the relationships I wanted.
Professionally, it has been the same way. When I decided that my first career wasn’t making me happy, I went back to school full time to earn my teaching certification: two years and one child later, it was done.
I’m not saying all of this to toot my own horn, so to speak. What I’m trying to say is that I’m used to getting what I want. I don’t mind working and striving for it. Sure, there are things that haven’t worked out… things that I thought I wanted, but once I had them it wasn’t what I thought it would be. But for the most part I’ve made my decisions, worked hard, and built the life I have wanted. Right?
It’s a big, fat, stinky lie to think that I am empowered to do anything outside of God’s providence. It is because of Him that my body works and can get up out of bed in the morning. It is because of Him that I can even lay in bed and breathe. All these things that I do only happens because He allows me the ability and free will to do them.
And that is when I get really frustrated with myself. Why is it that I can pretty much just up and decide to revamp the kitchen and do it, but I can’t decide that I’m going to draw closer to God through prayer and bible study, and do that?
Why is it that I can decide to make a major career change and spend hours every day devoting myself to becoming a great teacher, but I can’t take a fraction of that time getting to know Him better?
Why is it that I can (and always have) been so willing and able to ask for help, guidance, and support from the people in my life who I love and trust, but I don’t seek that from Him first and foremost?
Why does a disagreement or misunderstanding with a friend/family member stick like a thorn in my side until it is resolved, but I’m able to put Him off and barely lose a wink of sleep at night?
I think about how excited I get when I know that one of my best childhood friends are coming home. I only get to see them once or twice a year, and I so look forward to those visits and cherish the precious hours I have with them. I remember how much I loved the one-on-one, undivided attention I occassionally received from my parents, Sunday school teachers, pastors, and other people I loved and admired. When I imagine myself in heaven for eternity, I imagine myself sitting at the foot of Jesus, gazing up at His face, and just listening to His words. Spending time with the people I love is a very big deal for me. It always has been.
The the thing is, I don’t have to wait until I enter the gates of heaven to spend time in Jesus’ presence. I can do that now. I can come before Him and “listen” to His teaching through prayer and reading the scripture. If time spent together is what I’ve always craved from the people I love, then why don’t I crave it the same way with the One who created me? The One who understands me, knows me, loves me with far more tenderness, mercy and passion than I can fathom? Why can’t I take the same pro-active approach to my walk with God as I have toward almost everything else in my life?
Is it unpleasant to spend time with the lover of my soul? I hardly think so. It used to be that I thought I had to do some “sprucing up” before I talked to God. Something like, I should probably go to church for a couple of weeks before I ask God to resolve that work issue. It wasn’t that I thought I could do it by being good, I just felt bad asking God to do something for me when I knew I wasn’t doing what He asked me to do. It took me a long time to really understand and believe the sentiment behind that old hymn “Just as I am.” It has taken me a long time to really know that I can come to God with no pretense. He sees me, and he created me with all my faults and tendencies.
I don’t have to change one ounce of who I am to stand before Him, but those old thought process do come creeping back now and then. I have to remind myself that whatever it is that I think I am supposed to be like, I can leave that baggage behind. I can stand before my Father, deserving nothing, yet receive His grace. I can sit at His foot, knowing little, yet receive His counsel. I hide myself in His presence and whisper anything that I fear that anyone else might discover, and receive His peace. And whatever it is that I want, whatever it is that I need, for myself or on behalf of someone I love, I can ask knowing He has already granted me all good things according to His plan which is far better than my own.
My friend Sheri has this beautiful artwork of Jesus holding a lamb. As it is depicted, the lamb is looking back at the viewer, and Jesus’ face is lowered, His cheek nestled against the lamb’s side. As we looked at it, she commented that she loved the expression on the lamb’s face; it was so peaceful. However, I was struck by the face and posture of Jesus, who held that lamb as though it was a cherished treasure. His lowered face reminded me of the same posture that we parents often have when our children, in an unexpected moment of sheer honesty, say or do something that brings a tidal wave of raw emotion, and we feel surely our hearts are bursting, and we bring them to us, enfold them in our arms, and drop our chins into their little shoulders because, truly, at that moment, they have broken our hearts with joy or pain, and that for a moment, we are quite overcome with the awesome power of the love and devotion that our Creator has enabled us to feel for them. And we are humbled by the awesome power of the love and devotion they feel for us.
In those moments when our children are wrapped in our arms, we silently think If something were to happen to this child, I don’t think I could survive. We’ve all been there. But I think sometimes we forget that is how passionately Jesus loves us. How very tender His love for us sinners must be. How desperately He wants us to know Him. He did die so that we would not have to. And He waits for us to come to Him so he can envelop us into that same tender embrace for eternity. He waits for me. And He waits for you, too.