It’s crazy to me how many things I feel like I am learning for the very first time. Things like the faithfulness of God and how that impacts me. The attributes of God are pretty fundamental to our faith, don’t you think? 23 years into following the Lord has gotten me here- discovering the building blocks of our faith as if its the very first time.
It wasn’t that I wasn’t listening in Sunday school or didn’t believe what my pastors told me in youth group. I just didn't feel like I needed it. I have always loved Jesus. I just believed that I didn’t really need him. The kids next to me? They ALL needed Jesus as their Lord and Savior. BADLY. But me? I really thought I was fine. I didn’t need Jesus to be faithful as the sunrise. I didn’t need new mercies every morning. I didn’t need him to be compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love. I just needed him to keep approving the life I made for myself. I just needed him to keep making me popular at church. I just needed him to keep giving me opportunities to love him in front of other people. The thing about love though, is that Jesus has more of it. And His love is “un-relentless as the grave” the Bible tells us. This love does not stop until it is finished shaping us. It does not stop until we look like Jesus. He watched me lift my hands in my high school youth group and he smiled, merciful towards my ignorance.
I grew up in a culture where “desperation” was a trademark buzz word. We prayed that we would be a generation in desperate pursuit of God. We jumped and danced and yelled in prayer meetings. We spoke in tongues, placed hands on the sick, prayed on our high school campuses and didn’t care what the “world” thought of us. We were zealous and young. Desperation and being desperate for God was this glamorous thing synonymous with holiness or worthiness. If you could appear desperate for the presence of God, you were a really good christian. It was a little misconstrued, but the heart was there. The Bible is clear that those desperate for God are blessed.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs if the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:3-4 (NIV)
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.” Matthew 5:3-4 (MSG)
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalms 35:18
“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” Psalms 51:17
There is a correlation in our Christian walk where we must empty ourselves to become full of God.
But, I had no idea the cost I would have to pay in order to go through this process. I forgot to put these verses into a human context. What does it really feel like to be at the end of your rope? When was the last time you truly felt like you had nothing left? Do you remember the terrible nature of being brokenhearted?
What I am learning now, is that desperation has so much less to do with who prays the loudest as if God hears them better that way. It has so much less to do with zeal and everything to do with our geunine state of brokenness.
reckless or dangerous because of despair, hopelessness, or urgency
2. having an urgent need, desire, etc.
3.leaving little or no hope; very serious or dangerous.
4.extremely bad; intolerable or shocking.
5.extreme or excessive.
Have you found yourself here, in this place? Tempted to despair? Feeling hopeless and a sense of urgency to pick up all the pieces yourself? Do you feel the desperate need inside of you? The need to be loved. The need to have purpose. A financial need. A physical need to be healthy in your body. There are seasons where the needs are as noticeable as our skin on fire. And our response to GOD in this moment is what trades our ashes for beauty. Here, stuck in this broken condition of Earth and humanity we might find ourselves in a truly desperate state on multiple occasions. A state where if God doesn’t come through you truly are not sure how you are going to make it to the next day. That isn’t dramatic. I have been there a lot over the past five months. But He meets us here, everytime. He doesn’t always come in and change our circumstances all at once. I think the Lord is gentler than that. With me, He has taken his time to come into my desperate position and just sit with me. He holds me for awhile before doing anything to make it better. He sits and He weeps and He listens and is present with me.
I can’t remember a time in my life where I have NEEDED him so much. The reality is, is that I have always needed him desperately. The only reason air inflates in my lungs is because of him. But I have become so aware of my need for God through these painful few months. I am nothing without him. I am worthy of nothing on my own. I can’t save myself or pick up an ounce of these broken pieces. Trust me I have tried. I have done almost everything I can think of to escape this process but pain demands to be felt until it is finished with us. Pain drives us to the alter of God time and time again until we begin to look like the one we behold. Sometimes, suffering is the exact guide we need. Now, more than I have ever realized, I need him to be faithful to wake me up each morning and put purpose back into my body. Each morning I need the Lord to come and remind me AGAIN who He is, who I am, what He has done, what He is doing and what He will do. This is an everyday thing. I am so quick to forget. I need Jesus to come and be enough hope, joy, peace and love for me each and everyday. I need Jesus to fill me with something worthy of pouring out everyday. None of our pain is worth anything if Jesus doesn’t come and turn it into something beautiful.
When Mary anointed Jesus, she broke open a jar of expensive perfume. The Bible said it was worth a years wages. It was costly. It would have been a gift or something someone worked hard for or saved up for. It was precious. I am there, right now. What I have spent a year investing into, saving up, building and protecting is now broken. The jar I was holding onto was precious to me and now it is broken all over the floor. But I think its our choice to see things as Jesus saw them, or as Judas saw them. Upon seeing Mary’s offering, Judas spoke out saying “what a waste!! This was so expensive and could have done great things for the kingdom. How unwise you are to pour that out here.” (paraphrase, clearly). But Jesus deemed this gift Mary brought as important. He saw HER and the intentions of her heart. He celebrated her and put this offering into the warmest place of his heart. It is our decision to bring what is precious to us and put it broken at the feet of Jesus, allowing its sweet incense to fill the rooms we walk into. Our brokenness can be poured out as an offering that annoints Jesus with praise. We bring what is precious to us and allow it to break at the feet of Jesus saying “all that seems a waste? Let it be worship unto you Lord. This is all I have and all I have is yours. Let every expensive, costly, painful and frail bit of possessions I have be unto you and your glory.”
There is something really formative that happens when we offer our our earthly loves as worship to our One True Love. As insanely painful it can be, we come home to ourselves a little more each time. You see, I believe our desires for earthly love, possessions and influence are good. But ultimately, they’re a reflection and a symbol of the deep ache we have inside of us to come home to the God who designed us. My desire for a husband is good and Godly, and one I believe the Lord wants for me too. But ultimately, it is a sign pointing straight to the deep ache I have in my bones to come home to the everlasting covenant. It is a sign pointing to my groaning for a love that never ends. It is a direct mirroring of my desire to be known and loved completely. My desire for a family is a reflection of Gods desire to bring his people together in perfect unity. To call us home as sons and daughters. To draw us from the East and the West. To bring the lonely and put them back into community. My passion to lead worship, write these post and have coffee with people all the time is a reflection of Gods desire to see the Gospel at work in our everyday lives. To see lives transformed by the goodness and love of God. The things our hearts yearn for, remind us of our yearning to come home to things of God. To shed this decaying shell of a body and return to a world swallowed in LIFE.
“All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But its not only around us; its within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. This is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting dimities a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. “ Romans 8:22-25
We are ALL (the tress, the rocks, the men and women around us) are waiting and yearning for the deliverance unto our real selves. Finally, at home to God. Desperation has shown me this. Desperation has made sense of what people meant when they said we had to find our identity, purpose and hope in God. I thought that this was SO cheesy! Surely this is just for baby christians. No. We cannot skip this step. There is no graduation from this step. We were birthed from God and to him we will return. HE is the everlasting, HE is the reason we live and the hope of eternity. Until that becomes real, our disappointment threatens to LEAVE us in desperation. Disappointment on this side of Earth does not have to diminish us. It can point straight to the hope that never ends like a highway. Disappointment is like a check engine light coming on in our hearts to say “oh ya. I am not made for this place. I was not created for heartbreak. I was not made to carry grief. Relationships were never suppose to end. We were never suppose to hurt each other like this.” Your overwhelming feeling of things not being right, is correct. You were not meant for pain. You were not meant for betrayal. You were never suppose to have to learn how to love the hard way. You were never created to have to work through years of pain from your parents divorce, abuse and consequences of living in immorality. You were designed with perfection in your DNA, born into a world that is anything but perfect. Your overwhelming feeling that things are wrong and you were not meant for this place, is accurate. You were meant for health and vitality. We were meant for perfect union with one anther and with God. Your body was designed for healthy sexuality. Your heart was meant to flourish in love. Your mind was meant to be sharp with the truth of God.
Jesus knows this. Spoiler Alert: it’s why he came. He came to give our bodies, our minds, our hearts and this Earth a chance to be made right again. He came to set this broken state of our world back to Eden. So the next time you’re tempted to despair? The next time you’re tempted to mistake your desperate state for the end? Ask Jesus to show up. Ask him to come and sit with you. Turn on worship music and even if you can’t sing, cry and let the singers prophecy your heart back into a state of wholeness. Bring your brokenness to the feet of Jesus as worship and let him pick up the pieces.
He is faithful unto the end, and you NEED him to be. Let him be. Let him be faithful and return you to himself. You were not built for this kind of brokenness. So scoop it all up. Scoop up your questions, tears, disappointments, fears and heartbreaks and put them in a jar. Everything that is precious and costly to you- let it break open at the feet of the Lord. Give him your brokenness. Pour it all out as worship before the Lord. Let the sweat incense fill the room as Jesus makes all things beautiful again. Because He is. He is always making things beautiful again.