Wednesday, July 11, 2007

One year and counting

I'm doing better... and worse. Hard to explain. There are things in my heart and on my heart that I'm still working through, wrestling with. I continue to confront wounds and issues I had no idea even existed. I continue to press in to deal with recalcitrant thought and emotion patterns. My heart continues to be in rebellion against God. It is dark and terrible; and I despise the evil I sometimes see lurking in me. Deeper yet is the loathing that rises up in my soul as I realize that the evil I see is not the extent of all that lurks in the depths of my being. Yet, at the same time, I am absolutely assured of the faithfulness of my God, my Savior - the One whose work is far greater than the dark in my heart. Thank you all for your prayers over the past few days (and indeed over the last many months).

As I write, it is very early Wednesday morning (12:02 a.m. as I started writing). That means that it is now July 11. It has been exactly one year since I launched the then-blogspot version of this blog (now blogger, of course). It has been nearly two years since I set out on this journey of blogging. I'm rather amazed, looking back, quite honestly. Very many things have changed in that time. My writing has matured, and I can see now how very far it has to go, especially when I read the incredibly compelling posts that go up at places like Decompose or Job's Tale or AMExpression...

More than that, though, I stand in awe of the kinds of changes God has wrought in me in the last few years, and particularly in the last year. I am humbled by His work in my life, and grateful that He has seen fit to move as He has. It has not always been pleasant or enjoyable - indeed, I would have to say that this past year was largely the least enjoyable year I have had since I was 15 (now that was a bad year). Yet I can also say that it was the year in which I grew most in my relationship to God, in which He transformed me most radically (and perhaps even most dramatically). He stripped me of much that I thought was true of myself, ripped away the layers of falsehood that I had built up to protect myself, and laid bare my soul - and my sin. He forced me to deal with the consequences of the Fall, both in my own heart and in the hearts of those around me. He challenged me immeasurably in every area of my life. And He laid on my heart a vision for my life, a sense of purpose and calling that has never faded, that has grown only stronger. I am incredibly grateful for what this past year has held, though there were times I simply wanted to escape it all. I cannot imagine what my life would be like - indeed, who I would be - without the events of the last year. Have they always been my desire? Not in the least. Have they always been worked ultimately for good? Most certainly.

I often find that it is in these moments of reflection that I see most clearly how God's hand has moved in my life. I am struck by a notion I encountered earlier today in reading for Focus on the Family Institute: Hope is not essentially a function of our looking toward the future, but of our awareness of the past. Hope springs not from a sense of what the future will hold in and of itself, but rather out of a remembering of the past and an expectation that the future, like the past, will ultimately be a good place, though at times a very difficult one - that God will carry the day, no matter how the circumstances may appear. I am filled with a great expectation for all that lies ahead in the months and years that will follow. Why? Not because I know what they will hold, but because I know Him who holds them in His hand.

I am increasingly excited about this year, too: about being an R.A. at the University of Oklahoma; about being more directly involved in ministries on campus; about finishing my book; about pursuing God with a greater passion; about finishing this book that I am making slow but steady progress on; about seeing continued fruit in the lives of the men around me that God has trusted me to disciple. Looking back on how they have grown in the last year humbles me, because I know it had little to do with me and much to do with His power to transform their lives. I know the work God will do in the year ahead will surpass that by more than I can imagine.

In the next few days, I hope to get in reviews of Bill Hybels' Holy Discontent and the new movie Transformers. My best bet is that I will get one of those up by Thursday. I hope to write soon as well of the vision that God has been giving me of my own purpose and calling - of the Scriptures He has painted on my heart and the words and phrases with which He has begun to shape my thought. I do not know the fullness of those yet, but I know that He does, and even the glimpses I now catch fill me with a trembling of great excitement - and great fear before God; I want desperately not to fail at the commission He gives me.

I don't really want to go to work when this afternoon rolls around. I am tired of walking into grayness every time I walk into that store. It is a place that ought to be full of God's life and joy, and instead it is a place of legalism, of religiousness, and of frustration. There have been bright moments, but it saddens me to see what this store is in contrast to what it could be. [God, continue to break my heart at my own hardness, at my own selfishness. Continue, too, to show me how to honor You in this job. Continue to show me how to bring Your life here. I want to see You honored in this as in all of my life. I fall so short, but it is my desire.]

I have only three and a half weeks of summer left. I will return to Oklahoma on the 3rd of August so that I can be ready for R.A. training to begin on the 5th. There is a great sense of anticipation, of joy, at the opportunities I know lie ahead. God is going to move powerfully this semester, though I do not know precisely how yet (of course!). I will likely have nearly 90 young men on my floor (Walker 3W, for those who know), and while that is slightly intimidating, it is also a challenge that stirs my soul to arise in strength and go in the power that God has given me. He reminded me even as I wrote this of His word, that we are not given a spirit of fear (or timidity) - but one of love, power, and of a sound mind: the precise combination necessary to be an effective and Godly R.A. and representative of Christ before these young men and before the world.

I still do not know exactly how God is providing for the remainder of the expenses of FFI, but I know He will. This is a difficult and unpleasant palace to be, but I know He is Lord. It's interesting how much easier it is to believe in His sovereignty in the lives of those around us than our own, at times... how little our faith is. We read Mark 8 this morning for our devotional at the beginning of class. It amazes me how the disciples could think Jesus was worried about a lack of bread when they had just seen some 4000 men (which probably puts the total number at least twice that, likely more) fed with just a few loaves. Yet I see in my own heart the same lack of faith: the same God who paid my bills miraculously this past semester is more than capable of doing so now; but I doubt Him. I cannot begin to express how frustrated I am at my own lack of faith. Like the broken-hearted father of Mark 9, I cry out, "Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!" I long for my heart to respond with the faith that God deserves, yet it does not. How I yearn for this wretched body of sin to be destroyed, to be finally replaced with a body indestructible and perfected, for my sanctification to be finished and my responses truly holy!

I pray you are all blessed in this day. I go now to fold laundry, and then to study the very words of God. I pray His conviction for you, and His love poured out in your life and through you to those who so desperately need it.

- Chris


  1. Thank you for the compliment. I love to write - it is so theraputic for me. And as I tell my girls (since I'm the age of your parents ;) that I HOPE I'm better at a lot of things at my age ;)

    "Hope is not essentially a function of our looking toward the future, but of our awareness of the past." ABSOLUTELY! We are able to look forward with hope because we know of Him who is able ... and He has created quite a "history" for you already, hasn't he?! This is why God tells us to remember always what He has done for us - and to tell our children and our children's children what He has done when we rise and when we sit and when we lie down.

    Your experiences at your job are a reflection of what exists in so many venues in this world ... this, too, is preparation for your future and is laying foundation that God will use in your life.

    You will be an awesome RA - and this, too, will challenge you.

    Gotta go feed my precious, and hungry, 7 year old!!!!!

    Love it - folding clothes and studying your Bible - what a poignant reflection of life - the routine, mundane, and necessary paired with Almighty God :)

  2. I continue to encourage you to be patient with yourself. God has plenty of patience with you. So should you exercise any less with yourself than God does with you?
    All things will come about in their due time.

  3. I am reminded of a quote I saw awhile ago on hope: Hope isn't hope if it is dependent on something outward changing. Hope instead is based entirely on WHO God is. That is why hope is unchanging.

    Love you!

  4. You got a lot of things cut out for you. keep moving forward. God bless you for all things.


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