Friday, February 27, 2015

Following Jesus isn't the American Dream

Sometimes from the outside looking in, obedience doesn't look at all what you would think it should.  And I know that some of what the Lord is calling me to right now definitely doesn't "make sense on paper," and yet, I have never felt more sure that I was hearing his guiding voice - in a step by step manner like never before.  And yet, I am certain it is very susceptible to being misjudged.  And for the first time in my whole life, I feel like I am in a place where I don't have to get hung up on that.  There is a freedom in that regard that I have never experienced quite like this before. 

Life is full of twists and turns - on a dime sometime, you feel like you and the Lord are moving steadily in a positive direction and then "it happens."  The "it" is not cookie cutter shaped, it's different for everyone.  It manifests itself in a lot of painful, stress-inducing and difficult ways.  But we all recognize it when we find ourselves there. 

The typical response is to turn to the the Lord and cry out to Him with a resounding "WHY???"  Because in our minds and emotions, things seem better and the Lord brighter when everything is going "as it should" - however we may define  that direction. 

My heart is aching tonight - anxiety is banging at the heart of my door at demanding to take up residence there.  He makes an excellent argument for me to allow him in.  

But I find myself in the midst of this dark and very uncertain season that the Lord Himself is the Keeper of my heart, and He says anxiety has no right to visit, much less live there. 

It occurs to me, as a Christian, how much I would like for life to run smoothly. I would like blessings to flow in a constant shower.  I want security, and provision, and I want things to be uneventful and everything to continually go well - happy marriage, good kids, secure job, a nice home, a good car.  But what I have come to realize is this, following Jesus isn't the American Dream. 

And Jesus didn't come and give His life and die on the cross to give me the American Dream.  He came to give me Himself.  And as much as I hate to admit it, I find myself far more aware of His presence in the darkness and the difficulty than I ever do in the pseudo-peaceful status quo of a life uninterrupted. 

I shared recently (or whenever I last blogged, I think) that the Lord has been asking two things of me - to live life open-handed, and to trust Him to fill my lack with His grace - it's sufficient, you see. 

Today I find myself at a dime - yesterday life seemed positive and bright and now this darn looking cloud has come in with a heavy threatening storm, and I cannot see what lies ahead.  In these past few months the Lord has been speaking to my heart and continually reminding me to trust Him, step by step.  I haven't always known where he was leading, but I have at least felt like the Light loomed bright enough that the uncertainty could be ignored.

Now the uncertainty seems to have taken center stage, but what occurs to me is that even though circumstances might have changed, the Lord has not, and just as I could trust him in lighter days, so can I trust Him in the darker ones too.  That is a life lesson we all learn, but we tend to forget in the daytime.  But God is Lord of the night too, and He is just as deserving of our trust there as He is any other time or place. 

I have had these moments lately, where I have had a very clear understanding of just how small this life is.  For some it is everything, the 70 or 80 years one hopes to live on this earth are everything that believe for and their desire is to make their mark, and live life to the fullest.  But for me, I have lately, a few times, gotten a glimpse of its tiny insignificance in the giant eternal picture of what my life actually is as a Christian.  And even if I have to suffer horribly for the rest of my life, it would not compare to the eternity I have that lies ahead.  It's a profound truth that God has been trying to etch into my heart in a deeper way. 

My want for blessings has not been unmet - in fact they have poured down in a way I never could have even comprehended, they just don't look like anything I might have imagined - and they don't look at all like the American Dream. 

My blessing is the Lord Himself, and His very real and intimate love and care for me, yes physically speaking, but in all sincerity that is such a teeny tiny part of it, and the portion least important.  What matters is the God Who guides and leads and loves me in ways I cannot even fully comprehend. 

Jehovah Jireh - the Lord who provides - EVERYTHING. 

Jehovah Rapha - the Lord who heals, not just the body, but the very soul. 

Jehovah Nissi - the Lord my Banner. 

Jehovah-Rohi - the Lord my Shepherd, He leads and guides me everyday. 

El-Roi - The God who sees me, He is mindful of me continually. 

Jehovah-Tsidkenu - the Lord, my Righteousness. He has clothed me with Himself. 

Jehovah-Shalom - the Lord my Peace. 

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

No, following Jesus isn't the American Dream - but it is so much more than that.  The Lord didn't come to give me creation, He came to give me the very Creator of the universe.  How foolish am I when I seek His hand when He is calling me to seek His face. 

God, I am so blessed.  Come what may, I have Christ - and that is everything.