The War Inside.
I can hardly believe that I’m writing again. I’ve been away from blogging for almost two years. The consistency of it is something I’ve never been good at. But the act of allowing my thoughts and heart-stirs to materialize has always been one of the most emotionally healthy things I do. So here we go. Again.
The biggest thing I wrestle with is this– the battle between taking Jesus seriously and living up to and fitting inside the mold of western Christian culture. Because these are often sadly two very different things.
My heart is dying to live fully alive in His truth and His freedom, but my mind is regretfully all too aware of the expectations of those around me.
There is a passage in Matthew 6 that draws a line in the sand for me. A direct quote from Jesus that is probably one of the clearest things that we know He said. A few excerpts:
“Do not store up for yourself treasure on earth (where it is worthless), but store for yourself treasure in Heaven (eternally priceless). For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” “No one can serve two masters…You cannot serve both God and money.” “Therefor I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds (who do not store food) …Your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? So do not worry … the pagans run after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness…”
There is not a place in the entire Bible in which I find more freedom than here. But living like this is probably the quickest way to get labeled as a crazy.
Almost no western Christians live this way. Handfuls. I’m privileged to know two of these people– and their lives are refreshing and challenging to watch. They live the richest, most Spirit filled lives of anyone I know. They will also be able to enter eternity boldly, seeing the fruit of their days flowing out of the gates.
What makes this so difficult to dive into is that it changes the definition of success. We’ve been conditioned to view success in terms of the American Dream. Our income, what we drive, our house and furnishings, a yard with a fence to keep our yellow lab and 2.5 kids from running into the freshly paved cul-de-sac. If I embrace Matthew 6 and Jesus’ other teachings, I have to redefine what success looks like for me. And chances are, other
people Christians aren’t going to get it. And that is so hard.
There are tears in my eyes as I write this because I know. I know the truth. I know what I’m called– what I’m commanded– to do. I know the freedom and the richness that will ooze out of the hardship and discomfort of such a life. I know all of this, and yet my feet feel like cinderblocks as I try to step towards it. I’ve tried, with moderate success, not to fall into the powerful current of many cultural norms. I don’t think I’m too off-base by saying that. But I am no better than those who have. In fact, I believe I’m worse. Standing somewhere on the shore, my feet buried in the mud, watching the rat race rushing by in front of me, glancing over my shoulder at the barely visible path trailing into the trees behind me. And I just stand there. Here. On the bank as my hours drain through the pinhole of time. Hoping someone will grab my arm and pull me out of the mud into the woods. Wishing that somehow this were easier. But knowing the strength and resolve of my weakness will never let this be easy.
I’m a mess, friends. I hope you know that.