I sat in the chair. The lights were dim. Candle flames flickered in the eyes of the community of worshipers around me, but I was frustrated. There I was at the end of my week. I felt like I had given everything of myself. There was nothing left. I sat there in the vulnerable darkness with real, raw emotions washing over me: weakness, loneliness, self pity …
Why can’t I focus? Where have I been? Why can’t I do the things I know I need to do?
Have you ever given yourself a guilt trip for thinking too much about yourself? All that the self-inflicted guilt does is continue the vicious cycle of inward speculation. Sometimes I have to laugh at God’s perfect timing.
The speaker got up and began to paint a picture of the Kingdom paradigm: people.
Forever, God’s heart has been for people. History is comprised of back-to-back accounts of His relentless pursuit. Desperate people are waiting for us to be pursuers of the same purpose. Jesus intended for the Church to be centered on His priorities: to preach to the poor, heal the broken hearted, proclaim liberty to the captives and the oppressed and recovery of sight to the blind (Luke 4:18). If we are not about the people, about giving everything to pursue the One, then Church becomes a meaningless institution and worship an empty ritual.
“Away with the noise of songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream” (Amos 5:23-24, TNIV).
I see around me the general ignorance and unawareness of many in my generation. I know that definition is cliché, but it is all too true. That night, I chose to move past that way of thinking—to be challenged, to evaluate. Am I about people? What about giving until there is nothing left to give? Tonight God took my tears of loneliness and frustration, and He gave them back to me as a new understanding of others and a shift in my worldview.
How ironic that tonight of all nights, when my head was down and my heart was heavy, that He would sing back to my cries with songs of living the genuine life. In response to unfocused, self-absorbed prayers, He took my vivid brokenness and told me to Keep giving. When you think that there is nothing left, give even more. I am the One who will surround you. I alone can be your Comfort, your Sustainer, your Genuine Life.
Oh, that I would learn to be a real person who sings the real songs, burning on the inside of me. As I was driving back to campus from church, the Tulsa skyline was completely encased with storm clouds. One lightning flash after another streaked the heavens, and deep thunder rocked the depths of me.
I was humbled by this untamable God, my cookie cutter plans and the vulnerability of trusting in Him. At the same time, I found freedom. This genuine God will help me to live from His worldview. Through my own moments of brokenness and fear, He makes me a recognizer of restoration and His unfathomable faithfulness to hold the universe (as well as my life) together.
And I learned that is where He is found, is outside of myself.