Monday, July 25, 2011

The Bait and The Hook

***missed the beginning of this series? Click here to read a little on how we are all Bent to Want Something Different***

I still to listen as the Counselor guides me through it, pulling straight and clear a single line. The tangled mess of thoughts, feelings, and situations tries to strangle it out, but He whispers calm through the roar, this realization of the root of recurring frustration in my life.

I am bent to want something different. I am regularly dissatisfied with myself, others, life situations... and find myself lacking joy, thankfulness, and peace.

I squirm. I feel childish. But it's true. He's known it all along and now I know it too.

He encourages me, as He so often has, to be specific about my struggles.

I uncover it before Him, the One who knows what's in my heart of hearts, but it's in the turning up and releasing the tight gripped fingers that I can see it a little, too. I wish... I was more patient with Selah, more holy and set apart for You instead of so easily distracted by daily life... I wish... my husband would be more consistent in this way... I wish... Selah would obey what she knows to obey instead of my having to repeat the same thing countless times... I wish... Alexa would stop doing things she knows she shouldn't do before she sees me coming to make her stop... I wish... loved ones would stop hurting themselves... I wish... loved ones would stop hurting other loved ones both intentionally and unintentionally... I wish... my loved one wouldn't be afraid to trust their heart fully to You, to follow You... I wish...

He lets me go on. I do.

I reach a stopping point because I'm too disheartened to say anymore. He wraps His understanding arms around all the hopes and disappointments and frustrations swelling in me. The sweet fragrance of His presence lifting the chin of all that's quivering, even before He speaks the words:

I desire those things, too.

And as soon as He says it, I remember that I know this to be true. And I'm comforted by sharing a likeness with Him, when I've felt so utterly unlike Him. The Spirit reminds me of the scriptures I know that confirm this... this God-likeness to desire change for the better. For all our best which is to become more like Him.

"When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God... You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness... to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days... Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."

So... it's not my root desires that are the sin... where does that come in? How and when does this godly desire get twisted into something that dishonors You?

He lets my Dad's words ring long in my mind, and I know they are true from having once been a practiced liar as an inseparable part of every aspect of my lifestyle. "The most believable lies have an element of truth, are wrapped in truth, so you bite into the hook before you're aware that it's there."

I want to stop taking the bait with the waiting hook that snares me into dissatisfaction, into grumbling, into frustration that leads to impatience that leads to unkindness and pride and judgement of a speck when I can't see for the plank in the way. And there it is, always dangling before me, now seen for what it is.

Our very real enemy, who is seeking to devour me and use me to crush and discourage as many as possible through me, has been baiting me with the God-like desire for myself and others to be more like Him.

I have been writhing in pain from having swallowed part-truths left half-formed in my mind, knowing something has been off but not taking the time to separate it all out and pinpoint the problem.

And I remember now that the father of lies even whispers scripture twisted as he did with Eve in the garden, and with Jesus in the desert... and this is the piercing angle that has been set before me...

am I not a stranger on this earth, whose citizenship is in heaven? It's fine to want to get away from all this madness. It is right that I am frustrated when the children don't obey me, the LORD says they should, and that my husband should not be harsh with me, but should sacrifice for me, and even my best righteousness is nothing but filthy rags, I can do nothing apart from Him, and it's so hard to remain in Him...

I have bitten down hard and the hook sets deep. The agony is fierce, thrashing.

But the Physician who holds me here, painfully aware, won't loosen His grip 'til He's released me. He understands being tempted. He understands suffering. He offers the way out...

"Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess."
~Hebrews 3:1

The God-given desire for all that is wrong to become right curves sharply into sin when I fix my thoughts on myself, no longer on the One who faced every temptation that is common, tempted in every way just as I am, and yet was without sin... and overcame the whole world, having disarmed all the powers and authorities, and made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Self-focus hooks and begins tearing all that was whole and healthy inside and painfully debilitates God-focus.

The Healing One, who knows wounds so well, breathes the soothing prescription over all that's jagged, gaping.

"Fix your eyes on Me, I am the author and the perfecter of your faith"

and again...

"set your heart on things above, set your mind on things above, not on earthly things... For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Christ is your life."

My heart-nods. This, this I know. "You are. You are my life. The Only Life I've ever known..."

And I ask it like the child I am, knowing the Father wants me to ask Him questions, loves to share His heart with me. How many times has He said "ask... ask... ask!"?

I begin tentatively "... but I wonder, God, why do I struggle to get out of the process You are continually allowing, orchestrating for me to go through?..."

I can barely whisper the throbbing heart of it "... why... why, when You know intimately how painful and difficult it is, do You allow... orchestrate... design... the process to continue?...

... I know Your ways and thoughts are not like mine, so much higher, but please... help me to learn a little of why cooperating with You through all this is worth it..."

***next post: Why God Values the Process so Highly***

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