5/20/13

Unclenching

I'm friends with a woman who used to be my professor. That is crazy amazing to me. In 2005 I was a quiet, pensive student sitting in the middle of her philosophy class, asking every question I could think of, having my world rocked, and just basically wanting to absorb her brain into mine more and more with every word she spoke. I went on to take two more classes from her- one on the New Testament book of Hebrews and one on the succinct subject of the Holy Spirit- and fall in love all over again with her teaching.

I remember once literally crying as I listed her her describe Old Testament religious rituals and sacrifice. As we in the class sat under the sound of her voice, imagining the experience of leading a lamp to slaughter, we were breathless. Raptured. She wove her words about the sounds and smells and sights of the experience all the way through the scriptures up until we got to the cross and

BAM

saw Christ there. Lamb of God, sacrificed for the sins of the world. Once and for all.

I can't do it justice. Wish I could take you all back to college with me.

Anywho now we're friends and something I still can't believe this amazing, brilliant, compassionate, inspiring woman wants to be friends with little ol' me. Crazy blessed by her.

Well, as vividly as I remember that ritual moment in class, there's something else she said- and still says- that I keep coming back to. Something about truth. 

I went to a small bible college for my undergrad education. The college attracted quite the array of students, but we all had the most important thing in common: our passionate love for the Christian faith. I love Jesus and I love people who love Jesus but I'll be one of the first to admit: when you marry passion and religion, what you sometimes get looks more like a boxing match than love. Perhaps that's why my then professor and now friend so often repeated this line about truth- this very, very important line:

We must hold onto truth with open hands. 

She said with compassion. She said it as a gentle and gracious reminder to us fiery students sitting (arguing?) in class. She said it with the same motion each time: fists turning up and open. Hands open to the heavens- ready to give or to receive, either one.

I've thought a lot about those words since I first heard them eight years ago. I am not someone who believes that each person has their own truth or that every religion is equal. I believe that truth is found in the scriptures and is universal and unchanging. But that's probably why I can hold onto it with open hands. Because it's not going anywhere and I don't need to punch anyone in the face with it to prove its validity or worth.

But that's not the exact topic on my mind today. What's on my mind today is a little adaptation of my former professors phrase. I want to change the word truth to everything.

We must hold onto everything with open hands.

Have you ever heard the worship song Forever Reign by Hillsong? My husband was humming it today and as I subsequently played it through my mind, I heard these words in a new way: My heart will sing no other name: Jesus. 

I thought: wait a minute. Has my heart been singing no other name? Or has it been more like Jesus!(andmoney!) Jesus!(andsparetime!) Jesus!(andabeautifulhome!) Jesus!(andenoughsleep!) etc etc etc

It is amazing how I need to learn these lessons over and over again. Thank God he's a patient God. Just when I think I've learned how to hold on to my life with open hands, my tiny fists slowly close in around things that aren't God. Generally I'm not one to bow at the alter of materialism but I often find myself getting on my knees and folding my hands to the Power of Sameness and Security and Life Turning Out the Way I Wanted.

I can't share the details right now but suffice is to say John and I are facing some major decisions in the coming weeks and I have been shocked and saddened by how many things and issues and personal desires cloud my vision when really I should only be asking one question: what is the Lord's will for us?

When John and I were considering adoption we me with another older, wiser couple who had also adopted to seek their advice. The husband flat out told us that he wasn't going to tell us what to do but he was going to give us this advice: when you are making a decision in life you should consider the following four things in the following order:

1. Bible. Search the scriptures for wisdom on the topic.
2. Prayer. Ask what direction God has given you through prayer.
3. Wise counsel. Seek out advice from a variety of trusted friends.
4. Circumstances. Consider what impact the decision would have on your life and loved ones.

This is how I generally make decision:

1. Circumstances.
2. Circumstances.
3. Prayer.
4. Bible.
5. Circumstances.

I'm stubborn and independent so I usually don't ask other people what they think. It's not right... but it's true.

So in the next few weeks I'm going to be doing a lot of deep breathing and a lot of unclenching of the fists. Not my will but yours be done, Lord. His will for our future will be his will for our future not matter how tightly I hold on to anything else.

Praying that this will be true of me: my heart will sing no other name: Jesus! Jesus! 

xo

11 comments:

  1. "Has my heart been singing no other name? Or has it been more like Jesus!(andmoney!) Jesus!(andsparetime!) Jesus!(andabeautifulhome!) Jesus!(andenoughsleep!)" Thank you for this great reminder.

    When I was dating my husband, I would pray for God to send me a memo (like a written out memo) telling me exactly whether I should marry my husband. Something along the lines of "Dear God, I want to do your will, but I need you to send me a written memo because I am scared and need to know this is what I'm supposed to be doing." I didn't get any faxes, but He, graciously, made it very clear. Praying for God's Holy Spirit to clearly guide you.

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    1. I can relate! God's guidance usually comes to me in a sense of peace and certainty but I would like for it to come in a very clear memo like you described!

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  2. Lovely! This reminds me of what Corrie ten Boom said, something like "I have learned not to hold onto things to tight because it hurts my fingers when God has to pry them open to take it away"

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    1. Love that quote! Thanks for sharing it!

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  3. Anonymous5/21/2013

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  4. Anonymous5/22/2013

    I have read and enjoyed you blog for a long time and am very disapointed. Amazed by your ability to hide hatred and judgement in something so beautiful.

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    1. Where do you see the hatred and judgement hiding?

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    2. Anonymous5/23/2013

      You say not all religions are equal.

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    3. Well maybe I should have offered a fuller explanation. Tell me if this helps clarify:

      First I would say that most people do not believe all religions are equal. There are and have been many (too many) religions that practice infanticide and female genital mutilation, for example. I do not believe that any religion which takes away human rights from a person is equal to those that do not.

      Second, in terms of religions that do not violate human rights, I believe that under the law they should be afforded equal right to expression and practice.

      Third, if you are a person who practices a religion that makes a truth claim then you cannot view all religions as equal. For example, I believe that Jesus is the son of God. Judaism says Jesus is not the son of God. So if I truly believe Jesus is the son of God, I can't say both religions are true. One is and one isn't. Again, I believe people should be respected and allowed to practice any religion (that doesn't violate human rights) with freedom and dignity, but that doesn't mean I have to think they are all equal.

      I'm convicted about the truth of my religion but I don't judge others or hate them if they practice another one. Does that help clarify my stance?

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    4. Anonymous5/23/2013

      Yes, thank you.

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