Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Suffer an Awakening

We've been at our new church home for eleven Sundays now. Honestly, we couldn't be happier. All change has its challenges, but God has had His hand in our transitioning.

We've been slowly getting plugged in, meeting new people, making new friends. We've joined a home group, Jake has been attending youth group, Ethan and Victoria have started Awana. We took the membership class (and signed on the dotted line) and even participated in a couple of outreach fundraisers, and even attended a really fun concert with one of the pastors and several members of our church.

We haven't plugged in yet to serve, Neal's not playing drums yet, Jake hasn't stepped up to get involved with children's ministry, I haven't even found a place where I fee like I might belong, but all of us still feel a part. My younger kids have actually started serving, and I have been reminded about the Lord's encouragement that what they need as we're raising them is different than the things that were best for Jake.

It's starting to feel like home, and all of us feel really grateful to be there. But for the past few weeks, I have been feeling something else, something new, and painful.

As a church, we are currently going through a series based on the book "The Hole in the Gospel" written by World Vision CEO Richard Stearns. It's a powerful and thought provoking book that talks about where our "personal gospel" is missing the mark, and the way each of us as individuals is missing the heart of God, specifically in what the book of James calls "pure religion."

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
James 1:27

The pain I've been feeling, is the slow realization that my personal religion has not, at least for sometime, been either pure or undefiled. These last few Sundays as my family and I drive away from our church, I have sensed such a heavy pain and ache in my chest. It's almost as though I can feel the weight pulling my proverbial heart from my core.

It's a funny thing this ache though. As much as it hurts, it's a good thing. It reminds me of the way I have felt when my arm feels when I've laid on it wrong at night and I wake to a numbness in it. When I shift and move and the circulation is restored, it begins to tingle, and to ache. It's because where life has been held back, the blood begins to flow, and feeling is restored, but before it's "well" and feels healthy again, it has to suffer the discomfort of awakening.

I feel like my heart has been suffering an awakening. Where it has been asleep, and the blood of Christ has not been flowing, life is slowly returning. When the flow of blood is fully restored, so will its strength be.

I want my heart to feel the full flow of the blood of Christ, so that it may wash clean my "personal religion," and make it both pure and undefiled, but the process is painful. Even admitting that this pain is a reality is hard. It's not as though I was backslidden or in rebellion, I was just missing the mark. Which in reality is how sin is defined.

I have been challenged to pray for the Lord to break my heart for what breaks His, and I think this crushing pain I feel is exactly that. He is breaking my heart. But I am grateful for the pain, because it is a sign of life, renewed life, I pray.

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