My heart has forgotten how to worship.
How did it happen? I don’t pour out praise, my mind is here now, poetry is long forgotten, music whispers in past history, my meditations are trying to sort out my deathly emotions. Where is God? Where is my passion? How can the two meet again?
Where, my heart, is worship hiding?
Hast thou left it by the way?
Now thou sleepest due to sorrow,
When thou shouldst wake, watch and pray.
Dare to plead again with Jesus,
Dare to wear thyself with praise
Dare to lose thy mind in worship
Dare to waste thy precious days
Seeking, groping, searching duly
For the Ancient One of Days.
After breakfast, I strapped on a carpenter's belt and followed Josiah outside for a deck-building day. The poor guy has quite the motley crew--mostly me--but he's pulling off an outstanding deck building project. Sometimes I step back and realize that I'm proud of my baby brother. He's turned into a man I respect--for the ability God has blessed him with, and for his heart of service to God. My mind drifts back on the days when I worried and cried for his soul--before Nathaniel called him to repentance. The work God does is profound.
As we worked, we talked, and I vented.
I’m such a negative person.
I’ve really been encouraged and growing and strengthened so much lately, but the last few days have overwhelmed me with negative thoughts. At night when I sit down to write, suddenly I am so frustrated that if my life were written on a page, I would wad it up and burn it, just to have it all gone. It seems like such a stark failure and so absolutely pointless—like everything I believe and stand for will never be proven to be right and will never bring God glory. And like I will never be perfected. I hate being negative. I want to trust and praise and worship God and to love and serve and forgive others. I know I’ve been raised as a critical thinker, but my heart is critical, too. How can I change it? How can I become someone who focuses on God and His goodness and tries to proclaim His mercy and empowerment to others, instead of just watching and evaluating and thinking hoards of harsh, judgmental and condemning thoughts? This is not what I want to be, yet I feel forever sucked into a garish mud-hole of criticism. I feel the critical influences all around me and I find myself shrinking from them—yet these are also sources from which I have learned so much wisdom. How do I learn wisdom without being negative, cynical and condemning of others?
All afternoon I despised myself for being so negative. Yet, that is negative, as well. Self-condemnation equals defeat. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. It’s in light of God’s mercy that I can renew my mind and offer myself a living sacrifice.
I need to start where I am, with simple obedience and rejoicing today. Tonight. Tomorrow. I need to quit trying to make what I know is right make sense or look right to others, quit worrying about how I make God look and just obey. He can take care of His own image. I’m just supposed to be seeking to be conformed to His image. Abigail, just obey. Just obey.
Sometimes I think I'm just a lump of silly putty, myself.
I’m such an impatient person. Such an idealist. I want everything in black and white and perfect. And I’m so ridiculously emotional. Nobody believes me. They all say I’m steady and predictable and dependable and controlled and confident and all kinds of nonsense. I’m not. My feelings wobble like a floppy top. I hate change when I’m comfortable, but when it seems inevitable then I like it drastic and dramatic and as quickly as possible, please. Especially if it seems like it will accomplish ideal.
I went to bed last night feeling weepy and frustrated because I see ideals in scripture and try to obey them, but they don’t seem to be working.
Like church. Christians divide over everything imaginable. Yet, where there are differences, it is hard to balance love and truth. Everyone has different priorities and different hills on which they are willing to die.
And homeschooling. Half the kids I grew up with seem in grave danger of a fall because they are too naïve to recognize that the world is full of evil. Many of my homeschooled friends are trading in the values of their parents for whatever works.
And this whole “raising homemakers” thing seems to breed an awful lot of discontent young women.
I’m determined to cling to what I know is right, but why doesn’t it seem to work?
On the other hand, sometimes I feel like I’m compromising. Like I accept the best option instead of demanding perfect. Like, why do I help girls at Choices get signed up for Medicaid and WIC when I don’t believe in either? Why do I help them find jobs when I think it’s a curse on women to be in the work force? Why do I encourage them to bring children into the world when I know that children raised without fathers and in no fear of God have little likelihood of growing well? Yet in this case, I know that the overriding truth is that life belongs to God and it’s not for me to know or decide beyond doing my best to save life. Currently I do that legally and I employ legal means. If it becomes illegal, I will still seek to save lives. And I hope that perhaps I will have opportunity to introduce these women to a different way, but for now the priority is to save lives.
So maybe that’s the point with the other issues—the priority is not perfection. It’s not what works. It’s my obedience to what I know.
It’s very difficult.
This morning when I woke up, all my frustrations had run away with the Sand Man. They didn’t even seem important. Maybe I just get frustrated the more tired I am? And we had an excellent meeting. The S Family and a friend of theirs named John joined us for the meeting, which stretched until one o’clock with lots of encouragement.
It was a beautiful day, so when we got home, Papa and I hopped on his bike and I straddled his new saddle bags as we zipped all over Linker Mountain and Lander’s Loop. The whole ride I wrestled with ideal and simplifying the complicating factors of life as the scenery whizzed by.
Maybe that’s why I haven’t been journaling—because I’m feeling a bit confused and frustrated as I just want things to be either wrong or right. To either go away or happen. I just don’t like waiting.
Which is exactly what the Lord allows to teach me to keep my focus on Him.
Which is exactly what waiting requires—perseverance in doing good.
Lord Jesus, I’m always dissatisfied with the status quo, always frustrated with the slow pace of life and with all the things I perceive as wasted time, emotion and motion. But Father, I know that these are things You ordain and permit to cause me to grow into Your image. If You ordained everything to happen in perfect order and in ideal circumstances, where would I learn obedience? Where would I learn proven character? Where would I learn hope? And where would be the encouragement to fix my eyes on a heavenly kingdom which is imperishable and in which You dwell and rule and everything is perfect? Teach me to use my times of frustration to plead that Your kingdom would come and Your will be done on earth just as it is in heaven. Teach me to be forever dissatisfied with what I currently know and possess of You and always to hunger and thirst for You and for Your righteousness, with the promise that I would be filled. Lord, I’m distracted by things that aren’t even happening—just wanting them to happen so they’ll be over and I can get focused again—but You want to use them to teach me to focus. So strengthen me. You reveal Your goodness and Your worthiness to me every day, but be so kind as to reveal it again and again with constant reminders that I can’t ignore. Pursue me. Rope me in. Keep my eyes on You. I love You. Teach me to love You more.
No, I’m not excited about the Health Care bill that just passed.
Sarah and I talked a bit about it this afternoon, as I told her about Aunt Helen and Grandma’s visit. Aunt Helen is the completely good-intentioned and compassionate liberal who wants to see people helped and is, I think mistakenly, trusting in government to offer compassion. But government is a machine and can never offer what is truly needed—it’s not reason, it’s force. And when programmed “mercy” it will soon be short-charging everyone, dealing out merciless “healthcare” and reading out the death sentences of those deemed “unworthy” of the limited resources. Aunt Helen said I might be right, or I might be wrong. “We can’t see what will happen,” she said, “and it doesn’t have to happen that way.” She might be right, but history repeats itself and the history that has repeated itself so far shows exactly what I predict—in Nazi Germany, in Communist China, in Soviet Russia. It’s a strange thing to hear a person that I consider very intelligent and much my elder in experience and knowledge sharing their thoughts and be completely convinced that they are completely deluded. I hate it when the thought whispers through my brain, “That is not the truth because you know the truth...” It seems conceited and disrespectful for me to be so certain of the right when it so opposes those older than I. More and more often these days, I hear what is said, and I judge it and condemn it—in sorrow. It’s one of the most painful things for me to feel certain that someone I love or someone I respect is mistaken. Especially if the issue of mistake is an issue of obedience to God.
My Aunt is what everyone would consider a “good person.” This visit, I tried to think of her as a good, kind person, but when I listened to her speak, it wasn’t “good” things I heard come out. It was the weirdest sensation. She was not talking about evil things or wicked things, but all her words sounded hollow to me. Empty. Lost. Like they were falling from her lips into a black abyss of eternal worthlessness. She stooped a little, seeming weary, yet her eyes and words and heart stirred restless, looking for something new to conquer and to seek for fulfillment. I looked into her bright blue eyes and saw dissatisfaction. No peace.
It bothered her that Nick said that the American people are worshiping their government as a God—looking to the government for “salvation” instead of trusting God. “If that kind of religion demands that people be poor and unhealthy and groveling to worship God, then it’s not right!” she insisted. Ah, God doesn’t demand that we be poor and unhealthy and groveling to worship Him, but He does demand that we worship Him. And often, it is not until we are poor, unhealthy and groveling that we see just how small and helpless we are and fall on our faces and worship Him. For this reason, He is willing to allow us to be poor, unhealthy and groveling.
As I listened, at a loss how to explain to someone who does not love the Lord, how the Lord loves, my heart felt heavy. Someday, my Aunt will worship God, because that is what He has decreed. And all His creation attests to His worthiness of worship. I would to God that she should come to the place of worship before the day when every knee bows and, cruel though it sounds to the ears of flesh, I would even gladly see her poor, unhealthy and groveling if it brought her to that place before the day of judgment.
Do I not love her because I could wish this? I love her, with a small part of the mercy which Christ extends—patiently giving her yet another day, another year, to humble herself and submit to Him. She will one day submit, and oh how much better to do it now, whatever the means which bring that submission may be!
Several times before I have shared the gospel with her, hoping praying that she would turn to the Lord. She is kind and accepts my attempts as love, though I know she disagrees. As I’ve been studying Romans lately, so much of it pressed back on me—the description of how we are all shut up before God because our conscience teaches us from creation to worship Him—yet we seek other fulfillments and other gods. I’m sure my Aunt would say regarding eternity “We can’t really know.” She might feel like I am wasting life opportunities, though I know she is pleased to see people content and enjoying what they do. Yet my heart sinks knowing that she’s wrong, and not only that, but that I believe she does know, yet is resisting the Lord’s grace. I longed to tell her again of His mercy and compassion, waiting for her to turn to Him, yet she seemed more spiritually closed than I have ever before noticed.
Suddenly to me, the things she said that seemed like they were “close to the truth” or even open or tolerant of the truth, became stark lies. “We can’t really know,” is not openness to the possibility of God’s view of eternity. It is rejection of what He has proclaimed as truth—that He will one day judge the earth in righteousness. We could argue that it’s a difference of opinion and each is entitled to her own opinion. God has given us the ability to form opinions. Yet God is absolute and one of us is wrong. And it will separate us for eternity.
So I weep.