Monday, May 27, 2013

Blessed are the Stubborn in Faith

I was about five and I had a penny. That head of mine had golden brown strands down to the shoulders. Locks that framed pure child deviousness. Discovery whirled through kid-mind and I realized that pennies on walls were copper crayons! Impassioned in front of that wall-canvas, I raced to cover egg shell paint with kindergarten art. 
However, my masterpiece was quickly discovered by the mortgage-payer who proceeded to fulfill a previously stated promise: "If you make art on the walls one more time, you'll lose your stuffed-animals for a week." It was an effective punishment. It bagged up all my fuzzy furry friends, Velveteen Rabbit and Kermit the Frog and left me quite lonely to mull over my wrong-doing. My willful wrong-doing. You see, Mr. Mortgage-Payer-Dad had warned me before about those "art attacks". But I was serious about my creations. 

Yeah, not really. My creations were meager, pretty childish in fact. 
In fact? Of course. 

But I was serious about asserting myself, about (attempting) to do what I wanted.
I was stubborn. 

Curled up in a puddle of pathetic sobs, in a sunshine yellow room that echoed the absence of all my stuffed-friends, Dad said, "Why do you always have to learn the hard way?" Only fists pounded pillows and girly tears replied. 

I was stubborn and I would learn the hard-way. 

Time and time again, I'd return to fist-pounded pillows and girly tears on through teenage years and straight past the pillars of college. I was stubborn. 

But six months ago, I stood in a sanctuary of egg shell colored walls untainted by little girl art and I looked up at a stained-glass communion cup and I was reminded of the God who is with us and the Christ who died for us. I was reminded of the unbelievable friend I have in God. Of all the times I've asserted my will over His, paid the consequences and curled up all wounded with tears and heard the words of Heavenly Father say (not ask), "Why do you always have to learn the hard way."

And then, then I looked at the cross. That torture weapon, the symbol of my faith and I realized that God is always in the business of turning awful into good. The horror of hands and feet smashed to a tree by hammer and nails. The sorrow-filled blood rushing down forest grain. God wounded for the sake of human healing? A splintered crucifix has become the breathtaking monument of my faith.

Jacob was the lying cheat who stole his brother Esau's blessing. Repentance and wrestling with God Himself would bestow on him true blessing, a better name and his brother's kindness.

Moses was the murderous lawbreaker who God would reveal Himself Holy to. A stuttering man who rescued an entire nation from Pharaoh's heinous hand. A sinner who imparted God's good law on divinely-penned stone tablets to a nation of offenders in a desert. 

David was an obscure shepherd boy who God made a warrior and turned into a king.

Esther was an orphan girl kidnapped and forced into royal marriage where she became the spokeswoman that saved the entire nation of Israel. 

Over and over and over again, He has used the ugliest parts of us, the worst (sovereign(ly)-permitted) situations and most paralyzing quips and made beautiful of it all. Redemption. 

Instead of being the willful brat who asserts herself and says, "No"... 
Please, let me say: 

Yes Lord, I'll receive communion and remember what You've done, what You've endured for me. I'll be stubborn about it every day. I will look to the body that was broken and the blood that splattered and was poured out for me and I'll resolve to cling to You for wholeness and holiness. 

To rise in the morning, regardless of emotion, exhaustion or allergies and give thanks to the Lord who didn't always have a place to lay his head. I'll praise You for rest and for pillows. I'll resolve to look for divine provision in things I thought I've been entitled to, like toast and coffee. Yes, I'll break bread and I'll give thanks. 

I'll look at the world like I looked at the walls when I was a five, like a canvas set out for Creator God. Clouds that cushion me from the full revelation of Righteous You in heaven. Birds who perch on patios and proclaim divine provision, dressed up royally from the closet of God.  White foaming waves crash on rocks and applaud the One who can speak to paralyze wind and water. 

When the emails fill the inbox and my breath quickens with stress, I'll look at the hands that type words and remember the hands that were pierced and pray for kinder words to type. If arguments arise and egos are at stake, may I bow low to You, who had no reason for humility yet chose humiliation on a cross so I could chose love, so I could chose forgiveness. How plans get thwarted, things go wrong and situations lack sense yet I know that in You, Lord Jesus all things hold together

God, let my willfulness serve your plans, not my selfishness. Permit my stubbornness to be made into blessed perseverance, into holy persistence. My heart has wandered from You and my feet have left your path and it has been death every single time. I bow this will before You and resolve to daily bind it, enslave it to your Grace and Goodness. I surrender these feet to the light-filled path and pray for strength to walk, crawl or limp along your road. Just help me hold onto the Way. 

I know, this is a daily thing. To commune with God is be awake to all the good things that come meant for us from His holy hand. To remain in Him is to find nourishment in the beautiful and hard things of life. Breathing in his Presence and walking in the power of his Spirit is the only way to subdue this willful, stubborn heart of mine.