Thursday, June 26, 2014

The futility of trying hard

Exhaustion is wiping us out.
The combination of daily grind and spiritual pressure pushes down on us until the weight of our own actions ends up crushing our very being. 
In my battles against depression I have bought into the lie that the best way to combat it is to try harder to work for The Lord. Logically it made sense. After all, when I focus on making an impact and serving others my eyes are removed from myself, right?

Somewhere along the way I bought into the lie that God just wants my very best, and that for me to be a good Christian I needed to try harder to be better when I felt worse.
So naturally, for a person with nearly chronic depression and illness, this could only lead to implosion.

What was described as "my want-to being broke" had hit. Motivation to serve The Lord was waning, the drive to pursue Christ was slowing, and my level of frustration was mounting.

The go-to fixer for depression was trying to read more scripture, to get out and serve, and to spend more time journaling.
I've been told this by ministers that I respect, yet it all neglects one crucial element.

Christ Himself.

There is healing and peace found in being still in the presence of God. When I cease striving I am able to more clearly see God. Although my actions impact others, they do not draw me closer to God, and they sure as heck don't heal depression.

I wish that more people realized that it is ok to stop for a little while. To simply sit in the presence of God. It is not selfish to tend to our own souls. How can we share of a Jesus who promises rest when our own lives display a frantic and panicked lifestyle?

Jesus does not want us to live good lives. 
He wants to do that for us.
In fact He has already done that, and continues to do it through people.

These people are those who have surrendered though. For them, their Christian character is an afterthought. They don't have to try hard to do anything, as the love that is at the core of their being fuels everything.

Even churches teach this false gospel. 
If you are a good Christian, if you want victory over your struggles, if you want peace in depression, then go to church more, pray more, read the Bible more.
Instead, I believe that the key is not to be a "better Christian" or to kick our struggles, or to be rid of depression. I believe that that the whole point of everything is for Christ to be visible in it.

The bigger the cracks, the more visible the light within.
It takes a completely broken vessel for the light to shine unhindered.

Instead of battling depression with more scripture, I think I might just stop trying, and rest. Maybe there is truth in the scriptures that say to "Cease striving" and know that He is God.

Maybe there is real healing to be found by just falling as a prodigal son into the arms of the father rather than trying to explain ourselves.

Maybe we can learn from Jesus himself if we allow ourselves to be Mary - simply sitting at his feet, instead of a Martha who is so consumed with action that she misses the man Himself.

I certainly don't want to miss Jesus because I was is busy trying to please Him....

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fake god

It bothers me that so many Christians worship a fake God.

Rather than worshiping the God of the Bible as He has revealed himself, they have fashioned for themselves a God comprised of their own fears, their own insecurities, and their own ignorance.

Instead of a God of scandalous grace, we see a god of conditions. 
Yet conditional love is not biblical love.
Biblical love is a sacrificial love, a love that sees a perfect God redeeming horribly imperfect and undeserving people.

The scandalous God of the bible shocks; for He associates with the unclean, the impure, the broken, in order to bring beauty out of pain. 

The god of religion worshipped by so many requires action that measures up. Rather than relying on the Holy Spirit, this god of deeds only accepts worship when the worshiper manages to keep his own life in check. This god accepts nothing less than our perfection, yet somehow misses the fact that Jesus' perfection has been applied to us. 

What misery there is in a life that constantly seeks approval through actions. 

I feel that the god we think we know is a projection of the relationships we have with our own earthly fathers, mothers, and authority figures. 
Where a person has been abandoned by his father, he has issues trusting in Yahweh.
Where a person has been abused, he believes that suffering in life is punishment from a harsh god.
Where a person has been withheld grace, he desperately tries to serve God out of the fear of hell.

Following Christ out of fear of hell is not liberation. I can't even call it Christianity.
Because the Christian God does not scare his children into loving Him.
He quietly embraces his children. 
There is no doubt because there is love.

This God does not need eloquent theology or complicated treatises to explain His love. He simply LOVES.

By action, by the cross, by grace, by mercy, by patience, by pursuing us.

Why would we want to follow any god other than this?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Returning, Wordless

"(Prayer) is not an escape but a return to one's origins." - Abraham Joshua Heschel

I will be the first to admit that prayer is difficult for me. As much as I long to talk to and have fellowship with Yahweh God, I find my words gloriously inadequate for communicating the deepest longings and desires of my heart.

Despite this, I try anyway. Perhaps I am reminded somewhere in my subconscious of Romans 8:26, in which we are told that the Holy Spirit "intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words" when we don't know how to pray.

And I must confess- more often than not these days, I don't know how to pray. 

I find prayer at times to be a reminder to my soul of who I am and who God is. Something about that contrast leaves me in awe and more comfortable with submitting my requests before God's throne. The more that I realize I truly am not in control, the less I actually attempt to take control. 

Prayer is not so much a plea for help as it is a return home. The prodigal running into the extended arms of the Father. Prayer truly is less about receiving what we ask for, and more about who we are asking. Prayer draws us closer to God as conversation draws a couple together. Prayer knits our hearts with God, surrounding us with his supernatural embrace when we can't speak. 

Prayer is how we experience God as Abba Father.
We, the wounded youth, run to him for safety, for comfort, for love. Does he heal our wounds? Sometimes yes, but more often he doesn't.

Yet this can be a blessing.
Is it not a good place, to be broken in the arms of God?

The absurdity is apparent even as I write. Yet what other conclusion is there?

Either God is loving and it is good for me that I was afflicted that I might draw closer to him, 
Or God is calloused and I truly am alone.
Yet his arms remain open.

I cannot see them physically, but I can see them spiritually through His promises, through fellowship and companions with other believers. 

Prayer acknowledges that I believe this to be true.
Prayer acknowledges the pain.
Prayer acknowledges the hope.
Prayer acknowledges the presence.

Prayer does not allow us an escape from our problems, it merely brings us back to our spiritual home and our heavenly Father.