Saturday, January 17, 2009

A New Year: Of Brokenness and Healing - Alex Blanton

A man named Alex Blanton left a comment on my post the other day about a Hope Deferred: Heart Flat Lined. He gave me a link to something he had written at the beginning of this new year. I wanted to highlight his post today in its entirety as it answers my post with wisdom and insight of what is going on in so many of our lives. Enjoy!

A New Year: Of Brokenness and Healing


Here we are again at the brink of a new year. In the past, I have usually taken the opportunity of breaking away for a little planning, a little casting of vision, and a bit of praying about all the shining new opportunities that the Lord would have in store for the coming year. This is all just fine and swell.

This past year however, I feel like Father has been slowly and methodically taking every plan, dream, vision, etc. and put them through the shredder. (It's funny - I actually remember praying and singing that they were His.) Now I stand looking into this new year, and you know what? I am pretty desperate for something completely new.

No - not just a new vision, plan, dream, whatever - I desperately need Him to pop me open and pour bucket after bucket full of Himself into my utter emptiness. It has not been fun to watch Him unravel and deconstruct all my false notions and paradigms I have had about following and living for Him, and I am not sure He is done yet, but I realize that if I do not have He Himself fill me to overflowing with all of who He is, then I am utterly without hope.

But is this not true of all of us? Why must He use our suffering to expose our illusions, fallacies, and delusions - to reveal our true emptiness and brokenness? But why do we run from it?

Funny thing is that I have watched many that the Lord has had us in contact with in these last few years, and it seems like they are all going through similar transitions. The Father has taken them through disruptions and other unpleasantness to find their former expectations unfulfilled and oddly hollow. It's not like God takes pleasure in thwarting our pursuits and expectations, but strangely, it is as if He is not content in letting us chase after these things any longer, no matter how worthy or meaningful they appeared to us before.

Does anything compare to receiving and experiencing the depths of God Himself? Could it be that "we have all like sheep gone astray, each of us to chase after our own vain fantasies?"

We have been told for so long, with the best of intentions I think (and not without scriptural precedent), that we should all be seeking and listening for God's will for our lives - looking for "God's purpose for our lives." He is the King. Yes! Pursuing our own purposes and expectations for our lives has never worked out, we think to ourselves, so knowing and following His plan would be so much better!

So, we wait for some divine message. We parse the heavens and the earth. We look at our lives and our circumstances for signs that help us unravel this code for why God has us where we are, going through what we are going through. Surely, we think, this is all happening for some greater purpose, that we are supposed to be a part of something greater than ourselves. If somehow, we think, we can figure out what that thing is, then all the pieces of our lives will fall into place. (Or at least the ones that make it bearable.)

Okay - so, now something happens and we are convinced this may be an overture of divine grace upon our lives - God's immanent hand moving to reveal to us at last His intentions for our mundane existence. So, we jump into it, full of gusto, and get on with the business of fulfilling God's purposes and expectations for our lives. No pressure there! But we jump in nonetheless. This is God's plan, right? What could possibly go wrong.

Then things go wrong.

Either through someone else, something else, or even (most of the time) through just ourselves, things manage to get screwed up. Royally. Not a little hurt and confused, we crawl back to Jesus for grace, licking our wounds. OK - this was our fault probably. So, we get back out there and go to work at The Plan again. Fulfilling God's purposes and expectations should be doable - we've got the Holy Spirit working with us and all that, right?

Well, somewhere along the way things get mixed up, screwed up, misdirected, misguided, misunderstood, again and again and again. Not enough time, not enough energy, not enough passion, discernment, motivation, money, commitment - the list of our failures and shortcomings goes on and on. The problem with living at trying to fulfill God's purposes and expectations for our lives is that when we cannot live up to them, we have to answer to God Himself. Each time things go wrong, we come back more disappointed and disillusioned. What is going on God? Was this not Your plan here that you wanted me to fulfill? It is Your purposes for my life I am trying to work out here! It is Your Kingdom that I am trying to extend! Some get frustrated and angry believing that God is distant and uninterested at best, fickle and unjust at worst. Some beat themselves up with guilt for their inadequacies, believing that God is not pleased with them, always standing just out of reach. Either way, we are rather let down that we are still left standing with a bunch of broken puzzle pieces. Everyone seems to have an opinion or a suggestion about how they are supposed to go together, but somehow we just don't really care anymore.

Does this sound familiar?

from beginning to end. What have we really been pursuing in our hopes of fulfilling God's mission and purpose for our lives? Did it ever occur to us that God may, in fact, be the one frustrating our efforts? Like, on Do you see something wrong with this picture though? This story has really been all about my purpose?

The problem with this whole scenario of discovering God's greater purposes for the universe, is that corrupt tendency in us to then chase after that thing rather then after God Himself. Why do we keep doing this? Why do things always get twisted into being about how we can fulfill our supposed needs and desires if we somehow get things right? We scour the scriptures. We take furious notes. We serve diligently. We give faithfully. We pray passionately. But we are still doing it for ourselves.

Here is the paradigm shift for me, folks: From life being about me finding and fulfilling God's purposes for my life, to life being about God finding me and God fulfilling my life in Him.

I believe this is where we get things all turned around and mixed up, and He is allowing us to get just as frustrated and disillusioned as we need to in order to figure it out. He knows that our deepest needs - the need for security and significance in life - can only be fulfilled in Him. But in our brokenness, we seek to use even God and His "purposes" as a means to find and fulfill this within ourselves. It's still all about us. Even in pursuing all those things that are good and wonderful about God and His' plan for the universe, we will still miss the mark if our goal is not deeper knowledge of Him.

Knowing God is not a cognitive exercise, a means by which we will have the tools to succeed in living life for Him. If that is our paradigm, then He will let us trip and fall as many times as it takes for us to see that we are missing it. This is a supreme act of intimacy, of laying ourselves bare before one in whom we can trust, and discovering the other has done the same. What God desires of us, is that we would choose to be vulnerable and bare - open and honest before Him. Open and honest with our shame and blemishes, to bare even the darkest corners of our hearts. To stand naked before Him and be revealed in even in our most bitter suffering.

Why? Because this is our true selves. The one that we try to cover and hide. The one that we try to marginalize through our own efforts. The one that we think that we can heal and patch up through fulfilling even the fantasies that we have about serving and following God. But God is not interested in our fantasies - the illusions we hold about ourselves, or of what we will do for Him.

You see, our brokenness warps even our love and our desire for Him. What He is interested in is us seeing ourselves as we truly are, in all of our brokenness, and choosing to not hide from Him any longer, but to stand naked before Him. In that moment, we discover that He has seen our true selves all along, but it is we who were fooled. It is this self-deception that keeps us from being healed and experiencing the depths of His surpassing love.

Until we are honest with who we really are, however, we are not open to receive the Love that transforms and heals our brokenness. In that moment, we discover that He has already returned the trust and vulnerability of love, and always has. Why would He risk so much on Adam and Eve? Why would He lay down His' own life, become a man to suffer for the sake of humanity? Could God really be so open and bare before us? Nakedness faces nakedness, and all is revealed. This is knowing and being known by God.

Each of us has an inherent need for security and significance, but we think these things are found to actually doing something. What we fail to realize is this: It is love that makes us safe and secure. It is love that makes us significant and important. Think about it: When we are truly loved by someone we experience all the security and significance that we need to simply be who we are. No more, no less. But if we feel we must put on pretenses, fulfill expectations, or otherwise be more than who we really are then the relationship is lacking real depth, isn't it? If we do not feel truly safe and significant to God, then His love has not been perfected in us. Perfect love casts out all fear. When we experience and live daily in the confidence of this love however, it transforms how we view ourselves, and how we respond to others, to life, to His' promptings on our hearts.

It also opens us up to receive the healing that comes by knowing Him in our deepest and most vulnerable places. 1 John says "If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." This honest bearing of our brokenness and inability to carry out His purposes is exactly this kind of confession. When we finally see who we really are, and we stop running to other vain ambitions (even those we pursue in His name), then He is able to show the deepest work of His' love and healing in our lives. He begins to make us whole.

Why does He do this? So we can get back out there and finally "get it right?" Finally fulfill His purpose, His mission, His grand plan for the cosmos? What you think this "grand plan" really is will affect the answer I think. I think the reason we fall short as disciples and as the Body of Christ is not that we fail to grasp the mission and purposes of God, but that we fail to grasp worship in it's true and proper context. God's plan was to have a people that would enjoy the same relationship with Him that He enjoys within Himself.

Why do we think the love of God is a prelude to something else, something greater? We have heard it said that sin is it's own punishment. This may be true, but the flip side of this is that love is it's own reward. God Himself will be our reward for knowing and following Him. There is nothing beyond this. God's purpose is Himself. His' plan for the cosmos and for all humanity is Himself. He is the I AM. The one who is self-fulfilled and fulfilling of all things in Himself. That we would know and be known by Him, in the same manner of which I have been writing, is the sole purpose of knowing and doing anything at all.

This is exactly what we see revealed in the closing sections of scripture - at the end of time we finally see what God has intended all along for us humans. That we, both together and individually, would know and be known by Him. As a bride with her husband, so shall we be revealed together with Christ at the end of the age. Once broken, now finally made whole. Once shameful and blemished, now spotless and glorious, together with Him. This brokenness each of us hides, layer upon layer, means that there is a healing that He alone brings, washing us over and over and over again with His love. Experiencing and returning His love is the means and the purpose of all things.

You see, all this suffering is only a prelude to glory, but it has already been revealed and opened up to us. God has bared Himself completely in Jesus Christ. He has already made Himself vulnerable, risking it all, and waits to see how we will respond to His overtures of love.

So, looking at this new year I can see the process that He has been working in me. Answering my deepest prayers, He has been slowly stripping away the dirty old rags I have used to cover myself up with, letting Him reveal more and more of my brokenness. I don't think He is by any means done, but I see that healing is coming. And I see that risking everything on love is the only sure gamble a person can make.

8 comments:

Erika said...

WOW and Amen!!!

How true that we keep looking over, under, left and right, around and through God Himself who stands before us. And then wonder we why we feel disappointed, unsatisfied and confused!!

Thanks Barb, for getting permission from the author to share his post.

Erika

Rich said...

Barb,

Thanks for sharing what Alex spoke of in A New Year: Of Brokeness and Healing!

I put together some thoughts that imo touch on what is happening through out the body re: those who want Him more than just a religion.

http://unfoldingmystery.blogspot.com/2008/12/famine-is-god-thing.html

I also shared some thoughts today linking to some of your more recent thoughts as well.

http://unfoldingmystery.blogspot.com/2009/01/un-blinding.html

I am so thrilled in seeing my siblings like wise coming to truly Know Him as their only Life!

Sue said...

Thanks so much for posting this today, Barb. We need reminding, seemingly every 5 minutes or so :)

How strange it is, this wandering away from such a wonderful amazing person and experience and safety and joy as being in him, to anything else. I shall never quite be able to get my head wrapped around that one, it's just so insane! :D

Carolyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traveller said...

Two thoughts:

1. We are all children of Abraham who left his home to what he did not know.

2. Faith by definition means we do not "see" or understand the journey as we take it. We love to claim we are living by faith while really wanting to walk by sight.

The journey is living moment to moment, with other followers, in the love of the Father, the grace of Jesus and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

Barb said...

Erika, Thanks. YOu are so right. Make sure to read this blogger, I think he will have a lot to say in the future.

Rich, I will go over and read. I love how you sit back and enjoy what the Father is teaching his kids. You truly delight in it.

Sue, you are so right!

Traveller, you said, The journey is living moment to moment, with other followers, in the love of the Father, the grace of Jesus and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

You are able to put into a few words what everyone else takes 100 or more. Tanks for this.

Barb said...

Carolyn, even though you deleted it....you made me smile!!

Sarah said...

Thanks for this - brilliant content over here as usual. :)