“Is there anyone who fails? Is there anyone that falls? Am I the only one in church today, feeling so small?”
“Last Wednesday evening, we attended a bible study at a church we have been attending for a short amount of time. Miss Carol, a lady we sit behind, apologized for having worn capris that night. She had a long day and could not stem up the motivation to put on pantyhose and a dress. I told her I was the last person that was going to criticize. I myself prefer jeans and flip flops as my standard uniform. We shared a giggle and pinky promised that we would stick to our guns on the capris on Wednesday evenings. As another member came by to shake hands, Miss Carol proceeded to apologize again. The lovely lady told her, “The Lord convicted me to wear a skirt when I was 20 years old. I just never turned back. If the Lord hasn’t bothered you about it, then I’m not worried about it either.” More beautiful words couldn’t ever have been spoken. She instantly put Miss Carol, and myself, at ease about the expectations within the church.
The timing of this interchange came to me at an interesting time. God has been working on me hard over the last few months about how I have chosen to walk with Him. He is testing all of my beliefs about Him and my relationship with Him. To say the least, this season of my life has been uncomfortable. I am a people pleaser by nature. I am in sales, for pete’s sake. I am quick to change my view if I know my opinion is causing someone else discomfort or displeasure. My boundaries are weak. I am more likely to blend in than create a stir. Conflict is just not my thing.
I have been working through Beth Moore’s study on Esther and needless to say, my eyes have been opened wide. I can’t begin to give you the full details on how the Jews came to stay in the the lands of Persia and Media, but long story short, they were captives who were set free; but chose to stay. They had stayed so long and become so lax in their practice of faith, they blended in with the people around them. So much so, that Esther was chosen as their queen. No one knew of her Jewish descent. Not until Haman laid down his wicked decree to have the Jews slain. At that point, she had a choice to make. She could keep quiet and hope that no one found her out, or she could take a stand in the name of saving her people. The Jewish people also had to decide to stand and fight. They had to come out of their comfort zone and defend what was theirs. They had to turn away from blending in and turn back to God in order to live.
Wow! To say I have been sleep walking over the course of the last year would be an understatement. I have busted my tail to create a comfort zone that I don’t want to step out of, even to pick up my kindle. I have been working to make a name for myself. To show the world what I can do- emphasis on “I”. I have allowed myself to blend in. Not at all what God has for me. Not one bit. I feel as if He has worked a number of my life’s circumstances together for the purpose of waking me back up. How did I get in this state? How can I go from on fire with God to complete indifference?
Here is the verse God thumped me on the head with today. I’ve seen it many times, but it rang fresh in my heart today:
” Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are Gods.” (1 Cor 6: 19-20 NKJV).
This morning it hit me that my body is a temple in which God allows the presence of His Spirit to live. Let this resonate with you for just a second. My body (if you believe, your body) is a temple in which our Saviour comes to reside with me(and you). I think about all of the “church” formality we go through on Sunday morning. Okay, even on Wednesday nights. Tonight, we had to talk Madi out of her Snow White costume. When I walk into church, I don’t want anyone to know anything is out of place. My hair is done. I am dressed nicely. I am smiling and exchanging pleasant greetings. I would never dream of acting inappropriately in any way, simply because OTHER PEOPLE ARE WATCHING, and they might think poorly of me. So why is my body any different?
Truth is, the opinion and the life of the Spirit gifted to me is far more important than what any person walking this planet could think. Yet I fill my mind with romance novels. I eat junk food that does nothing but weigh me down and out. I obsess about pants that don’t fit because of said junk food. I say mean things about people to make myself feel better about my own insecurities. I wallow in guilt and shame when I don’t measure up. I yell at my husband and kids. I let myself get sucked into the stuff of life and then expect God to bail me out when the circumstances are a little bit more than I can handle. Why can’t I handle the “stuff” of life? Because I suffocated the Spirit living within me. I pushed it right out. When my temple is filled with stuff, sometimes God has to come in and clean house. Much like Jesus did in the temple when it was overrun by sin and personal profit.
For the first time in my life, I recognized that no matter what I do. What I say. What I have. What I pretend to be in this life- it is nothing. Let me repeat- nothing- without the Spirit of God that resides in me. I am going to let Him continue to clean house. I am going to go to His altar every morning and ask Him to show me the sin that I need to willingly give him. I am going to ask Him to empower me to change the actions that are unacceptable and unpleasing in His sight. How can I proclaim to be a follower of Christ when I am participating in things that either (A) Dont line up with His word, or (B) would shame me if he saw me? I am done blending in. I am ready for Him to take the broken pieces of my life and allow Him to handcraft something beautiful. Only when that happens is the gift of redemption full and complete. God didn’t send me here to be comfortable. Daily He is reminding me- get used to discomfort. You don’t belong here. I didn’t ask you to fit in. I asked you to serve me. I “chose” you to serve me. And I hope that as I age I can say, “God convicted me and I never turned back from it.” Only when we get real with God, and ourselves, can we truly make a difference in the lost lives that surround us. Only then can we truly experience what it means to live.
“Has anybody been there? Are there any hands to raise? Am I the only one whose traded in the altar for a stage? The performance is convincing, and we know every line by heart. Only when no one is watching, can we really fall apart. Or would it set me free, if I dared to let you see, the truth behind the person you imagine me to be. Would your arms be open, or would you walk away. Or would the love of Jesus be enough to make you stay? ” Casting Crowns
See Video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7U–p31vIY