Waking Up

The sun has not yet risen on the horizon when my alarm clock blares incessant, screaming at me that another day is about to start and shouldn’t I start it with God?  My brain starts rapid firing reasons why pulling the blanket over my head and returning to bliss is a better idea and my heart responds with an ache to come closer and lower in prayer.  This volley, this struggle, it is a daily thing, and what is 5:30 but numbers in a day?

Most mornings it only takes minutes for the battle between my heart and my brain to end.  Most mornings my heart is victorious and I stumble bleary eyed while sticking arms in my grey, woolly morning sweater.  Flipping on lights, tripping over a cat, I finally make my way to the coffee pot that is streaming out its bracing brew.  Most mornings it only takes a sip, maybe two, of that warm, milky-brown liquid to feel almost human, almost ready to face the day and time alone with Him. 

But what of those mornings when the urge to pull the blanket overhead is more than the inconvenience of sleep interrupted? What of those mornings when you wish the bed would swallow you whole and the blankets would cover more than your eyes?  What of those mornings when the staying in bed and not putting feet to floor feels like the only way to make it through?    What of those days when your heart lies defeated and all of what you know to be truth and holy and beautiful is blurred by the mocking and jeering of your sleep-addled brain?

Those mornings, they are toughest of all.  The mornings when you do not know your need for grace .  You cannot see through those painful moments to see the grace that was always offered. 

And how do you accept something that you do not know your soul is aching for? 

How do you move past the pain to the beauty that is being offered, knowing it comes at a price?  And why do we spend so much time running from our pain instead of recognizing its place in our life?  Do we fear what others might think?  Do we shame ourselves into believing that God must be punishing us because surely, surely this pain is our consequence for error of ways?  Can we not see, not see that What you think you can’t handle —might actually be God handing you a gift” – Ann Voskamp?

And I read this phrase and my instinct was to hand it back, hand it right back from where it came because really God – this, this is my path, this is my way?  And couldn’t You just find something that is wrapped up brightly with a nice big bow and hand me that gift instead?   And on one of those mornings this past week I wail and cry out to God, my heart pounds ferocious and tears blur my vision and I beg God for the why.  “My actions, my words, my early mornings, my quiet moments with You, could they not be enough?”   “I have done all that you have asked and possibly more, could you not just offer me a glimpse, a tiny glimpse into the future and where my path is leading?” 

And my indignation, it burns like a wild fire, leaving my days filled with the blinding smoke of bitter words and charred hopes and dreams lying in ruins as I allow my heart to return to its old arsonist, sabotaging patterns.  And it takes some time, time for me to return to thanksgiving, to find some joy.  It takes time for my heart to cool from the fire of my self-righteousness, because there is a fire that burns brighter than my own and just today I read these word, pixels on a screen and I trace them there in hopes of absorbing their truth right through my fingertips-  life can blind and truth can hide in plain sight and the ways of God burn underneath everything” – Ann Voskamp. 

In that computer-generated moment God leads me right there to repentance and I remember the words of Tim Keller  “How can the inner workings of the heart be changed from a dynamic of fear and anger to that of love, joy and gratitude…?  You need to be moved by the sight of what it cost to bring you home” (The Prodigal God). And there it is the words that bring repentance right at the feet of my Saviour on that ugly cross.

I am clinging to self-righteous indignation for my salvation and this does nothing, absolutely nothing to bring me closer to God.  In fact, it only serves to alienate me further from His grace.  My motivation needs to be about relationship and it needs to be driven by my desire to commune with Him.   Communeto converse or talk together, usually with profound intensity, intimacy; [to] interchange thoughts or feelings. God wants all of me, every scrap of pain and fear and doubt.  He even wants my angry, fist pounding, chest beating moments.  He craves relationship with us and we ache for the same. However, we are often driven by what we can get in return for doing what is right.

Christ and the mercy, grace and the cost of the cross – that is our salvation – the only thing to which we should cling.  Self-righteousness and selfish motivation lead us only to self-salvation and in that there is no hope. 

“But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness.  May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, ‘The Lord is great!'” – Psalm 40:16 (NLT)

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