Sunday, September 23, 2007

Not far from the kingdom of God

I am purposely writing this blog after my church service but before taking personal time with the Lord. Today's sermon was exactly what I needed - it was a wake up call to alert me to my snoozing and zombie-like state that I have been in for the past few weeks. Perhaps this is why, even though for as long as I remember I've had an illogical fear of zombies, I've become very insensitive to zombie movies lately - because I am floating through life like one.

Today Pastor Devin shared the story of the man who was an expert in the law and asked the question of Jesus: which of the commandments was the most important. Jesus replied: love God with all your heart, strength, mind, and soul and your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:28-34). The expert knew that this was the most important and then Devin pointed out something that I had become aware of in myself for quite some time but didn't realize that Jesus had pointed out in the Bible in someone else.

When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." v. 34

For a few weeks now I have become increasingly aware of my own sins - even while I am committing them: I don't need the rule book to point them out. I am aware of the correct answers, I am aware of where to look in the Bible and I am aware of how to solve my problems. As aware as I am to the resources available to me, where to go for answers, how to solve my own problems, and how aware that I cannot solve them by myself - something inside me does not allow me to fully reach out to God. It's not about withholding myself some of the time - it's that I don't let go fully ever. While my head believes - at 2 am last night, I realized that my heart doesn't fully believe. A huge part of it does - but there is a tiny part that doesn't and I do not have any idea how to get past that.

My stumbling block is my parents. I love them dearly. I have never had a really personal relationship with them, so having a personal relationship with my Father God is something very radical to begin with. I know that God doesn't mind it when I ramble on about all the important things in my life, in fact He desires it because He knows my heart and who I am. Whereas my parents seem to filter me and seem to prefer that I am only brief - clearly, concisely, and quickly giving them updates on my life sans any details. I feel like they want for me to remain a bit distant. I know my parents love me - and while they are emotionally unattached I know they are deeply emotionally invested in me - it's a mystery to explain and you'd really have to just know them to understand. But really, having grown up in the home I did I have no idea how to have an intimate relationship with a parental figure in the first place. Second, I honestly have no faith that Jesus can do anything to change the hearts of my parents. I have been denying this since the moment I realized the LDS church was false because - for the first time in years - my parents and I really emotionally connected through our shared temple experiences. And I don't want to loose that. We share something that I do consider sacred. I don't trust Jesus to protect that and I feel ashamed that I don't trust Him to do that.

Today during worship, I felt as if God were really impacting me by reminding me of how holy, powerful, and truely awesome He is. I'm going to post the lyrics to Hillsong's "Mighty to Save".

Everyone needs compassion
A love that's never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness
A kindness of a Savior
The hope of nations

My Savior
He can move the mountains
My God is Mighty to save
He is Mighty to save
Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

So take me as You find me
All my fears and failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Everything i believe in
Now i surrender

Shine your light and let the whole world see
We're singing for the glory of the risen King...Jesus

I could feel my heart melting, I could feel the truth in these lyrics - I knew that this was true. But at the same time, I could feel myself shutting God out and screaming inside that I just didn't believe that He would change my parents, that He would salvage my family from the fallout that would come.

I am withholding myself from God in this area of my life, I am doubting Him and it doesn't affect just one area of my life. Now it is starting to spill into other areas of my life and I can feel myself pulling further away from God. In my head, I know all the right things to do - but I can't motivate myself to do them.

At the beginning of this blog I stated that this was written purposely after services - but before I go to God seeking fellowship and quiet time. A common word I've noticed is "surrender" and I've never known how to surrender to God. Today, I got an inside peek at what it means to surrender to Him. It's fear, it is pain, it's everything that you do not want to let go of and for the first time in my life I didn't just repent but I surrendered it.

Today at the end of services, Pastor Devin did encouraged people to ask Jesus into their lives - I've begun pondering since I was a Mormon if I had Jesus in my life - I know that He had changed me and that I loved Him, but did I have Him in my life? I realized I had so much baggage and felt called to let it all go and began giving it all to Him. All the sins I had repented of - I didn't repent again - but rather I gave all my hurt to Him, the pain from my childhood I began to give to Him, everything I could think of in those few minutes - I began giving to Him.
It's not just about repenting - it's about giving ourselves, our pain, our anger, everything to Him.

And I realized I had with held all these things and put them upon myself. I was still trying to make it myself - I was still trying to save myself. I don't know how to fully trust Jesus to save me. Grace is too easy. I get it in my head, and at times I get it in my heart - but it's so overwhelming that it's just so easy that I can't help but try to work for it. It's actually preferable to me that I be saved through work than grace.

Life is easier without Jesus - but it sure is a lot more empty.

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