Monday, September 13, 2010


I am a living dichotomy. All the time. Sinner & Saint among a million other small polarities I embody every day. Currently I am full of emotional energy and yet exhausted physically as I fight off a virus, a walking, talking dichotomy sitting here staring at my computer.

For weeks now I've been rubbing against two seemingly conflicting emotions, delight and despair. The more these two things have been rattling around like marbles in my head, the more I am starting to suspect that they are the result of God's powerful work around me. I am a little afraid to make this assertion. I am pretty sure it sounds presumptuous, but I cannot work out what I am experiencing in any other way. What I mean is this, I have never been encountered so many bizarre, tragic, evil, crazy situations as I have observed this year. Almost every member of our close-knit small group has some very heavy or downright oppressive situations happening in their lives. In my own biological and church family and in so many of my closest friend's families I have seen years of realational struggles rise to the surface. Addiction has climaxed, mental illness has peaked, abuse and the effects of abuse have continued to rear it's head, hopelessness has gotten a foothold in people's lives and is causing a great, slow, smoldering destruction. Marriages are crumbling all around me; young couples with unfaithful spouses & older couples with years of hurt built up around themselves. In strong Christians I have see such weakness. I have seen my fellow brothers and sisters give into sin only to be swept away by it. I have struggled along with my friends to answer the question, "how do people change?" and as we become more and more discouraged we have begun to simply as, "do people change?" I have witnessed young Christians come under hostile attack for their faith. I have seen so much hurt and so many stuck people and after awhile it's crushing, how can we fight such brokenness?

On the other hand I see the Lord really working in people. There is something beautiful and dynamic happening in our small group. There is real relationship, real challenge, real conversation and real change. As I observe Rachel's life I am constantly blessed and shocked by God's faithfulness and the miraculous forward movement I see. He takes my small faithfulness and multiplies it daily. I delight in watching the young energy and friendship between Rachel and Desiree (the other kiddo who lives with us). Desiree could not be a more perfect fit for our family and it is a real joy to have her in our home. I delight in nurturing them, it feeds a part of me God created, and I enjoy the gift of mothering. I am blessed by my pastors who Shepard tirelessly and yet don't seem discouraged. I feel blessed because in the midst of all this wartime ruble I have been given so much. Through all this hardship God is also opening new doors of conversation with those around me. My faith is beginning to contrast the World more which is a hard thing, but a good thing too. Also as I walk among those who are living through great struggle there is an intimacy, a trust, a one-anothering that has developed. The raw situations have brought us such honesty with one another and God has blessed us with such faithful friends. The elders have given me the responsibility to coordinate community development in our church and I feel very passionate and excited about this, and yet I fight discouragement almost before I have even begun. So as you can see I am filled with delight but despair is nearby.

As I think about the intensity of these two forces, I cannot help but feel convinced of a Spiritual battle taking place. One thing I learned through the first year I had Rachel is that God calls his children to step out in faith and what he calls them to is much more than they could ever handle on their own. He does this so that He may be GLORIFIED. It feels as if Satan is trying to tear down that which is good (families, marriages, small groups, churches, friendships) but the beautiful thing is that God is his great wisdom is using Satan's attacks for his purposes. He is bolstering friendships, he is taking away the superficial and replacing it with truth, he is forcing our hand so that we must deal with our sin, and the sin of our neighbor, he is making us weak so that his power can be made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), he is making us foolish in the eyes of the world to shame the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27), he is giving us perfect love which casts out fear (1 John 4:18). We must fight despair. I feel like I have legitimate reasons to feel overwhelmed by the brokeness around me but that is why I have been praying for the Lord to keep me from despair. What I am finding is that I can feel his Spirit at work in me. I am weak, and I feel capable of being swept away by sin or depression or apathy as quickly as the next guy but I feel his voice saying "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." and like Paul I say, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

1 comment:

Brian & Mary Hand said...

I just read this post today, and it definitely touches me. It's not identical to the email I sent you this morning, but there are running threads of similarity. I love how you explain the dichotomy of delight and despair. That is exactly how I have been feeling quite often.

Yes, God is doing mighty things . . . and bringing us to our knees very often.

Thank you dear friend,