Monday, August 11, 2008

The Unlikely Route to Joy

One of my reasons for this blog is to be ruthlessly transparent. I could keep many of the things I share here to myself but I have discovered that as I share my difficulties, struggles and inadequacies as well as God’s responses, others are blessed. Just because I’ve written a book about what God has done in my life doesn’t mean he’s finished with me. There is still so much darkness and self-fullness in me.

We all are full of self and darkness, wrestling with our woundedness, difficulties, struggles and inadequacies and often it feels like we’re alone—that everyone else has it “all together”; but that is a lie. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We have all been sinned against as well and both our sin and the sins of others against us leave us gasping for breath, wondering if we will ever be whole.

In addition to my daily reading from The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers, I am reading The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Dan Allender and making my way through the accompanying workbook. Today my reading was from chapter ten: “The Unlikely Route to Joy.” I was going to keep my thoughts to myself because it is hard to admit some of the things I continue to deal with, but it would be dishonest of me to appear as though certain temptations are gone. I am reminded of what John White wrote in Eros Defiled:
A moment ago we discussed the wonder of our High Priest’s understanding of our weaknesses [Hebrews 4:15]. For the man or woman who discovers it, this can be comfort beyond measure. But it is comfort to be passed on. “The Father of mercies and God of all comfort,” Paul writes, “who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

In any affliction? In the pressure of homosexual temptation?

Yes, “by the comfort which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

“But would it not be just as good if all my homosexual feelings ended? I could still help them from past experience.”

Unfortunately it does not always work like that. The apostle goes on, “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2 Corinthians 1:5).
And so I share my thoughts and questions from my reading today. Some things are painful to examine, yet honesty demands that I not retreat but move forward.
“We cannot love if we distance ourselves or overlook the damage of another’s sin; neither can we love if we fail to move into another’s world to offer a taste of life.” p. 195
What does this mean in regards to Pearl? I so much want to embrace her and rest in her arms, but the rest and love I am longing for is available only from and through God. Am I supposed to be “sacrificing [my own] comfort for the sake of helping [her] experience [her] own longings and need for grace”?
“Love has boundaries, but often boundary setting is a means of fleeing the requirements of love. A good heart will always feel unsettled by any path that does not offer the opportunity of sacrifice for the sake of the gospel. The common route of self-discovery, self-expression, and self-protection seems reasonable, but the byproducts are often not true strength, tenderness, or faithfulness.” p. 196
Have I wrongly fled Pearl? Did I abandon true strength, tenderness and faithfulness when I shut her out of my life? Or was my leaving true sacrifice for the sake of the gospel?
“Suffering is equally necessary for us because it strips away the pretense that life is reasonable and good, a pretense that keeps us looking in all the wrong places for the satisfaction of our souls.”
Pearl was/is the wrong place to look for the satisfaction of my soul.

“...deep suffering can lead [me] to place [my] trust where it ultimately belongs” (p. 197)—not in Pearl, not in any person or group of people, not in me trying to supply my own relief, but in God.

“The capacity to act on conviction instead of fear enlivens the soul and allows it to soar above the petty attacks and jealousies of a fallen world.” (p. 198) I want to live like this. I want this kind of enlivening.

God, help me honour you in all I do today. Keep me trusting in you and you alone. Enliven me with your Spirit! Meet my needs in the way that only you can. I love you, God.

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