I’d ask for a spot but…

photo courtesy of foggiegee

For You are the God of my strength; why have You rejected me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places. Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God.

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. ” (Psalm 43:2–5, NASB95)

At a men’s group yesterday I was struggling to find words to describe where I am struggling lately.   I can only say it is not where I would like to be and yet it is.  The blessed desert (Exodus 2:16-22; 33:12-16)?  Alone with God. How can I adequately explain the paradox that is raging within my heart.  As I thought more about it an analogy came to mind that encompasses a thorn I have wrestled with ‘unsuccessfully’ for the last few years.

I liken it to being in the gym on a final set with the weights halfway back up.  Not a pound less than you can move (and seemingly a little more).  The task requires every ounce of focus, strength, and determination to keep the weights at least stationary if not moving upwards slowly.  Usually, a ‘spotter’ is used to facilitate a safe and effective workout that pushes you to the limit.  The spotter’s purpose is to ensure you are lifting the maximum amount without letting the weights crush you when your muscles reach their limit.

Since graduating seminary, I have often wondered where have the ministerial ‘spotters’ gone.  The weight is there, but no help to be seen.  But here, there is no time to dwell on where the ‘spotter’s have gone.  No time to wonder if they really are just too busy with their own workouts to help or are purposefully looking away.  In the past the enemy has caused me to focus destructively on this conspicuous absence.  Tempting me to anger, resentment, and bitterness.  Joseph knew better than to focus on people or circumstances (Genesis 37-45), and so must I!  No, too much time wasted wondering in vain.  It is what it is.  Jesus owns the gym, has not turned away, and will not allow one ounce more (nor less) than I can handle in His grace.  Setting a new world weight record?  I doubt it.  But that was never the point.

Now all that I am must be focused on getting those weights back up and on the rack.   Just as in weightlifting – that last repetition of the last set where you expend yourself fully is where the gain is made.  All the previous sets have added strength to get to this point – but this final set is building more than all of them combined.

The analogy as all with any analogy, is still inadequate to fully describe the experience – as it is as much about love and intimacy than strength and weights.

photo courtesy of WolfSoul

A deepening of ‘reverent intimacy’.  A consuming love burning and growing in intensity from the inside.  A love from and for Christ that is beyond my ability to describe or contain.  I have known and loved Christ for 20 years and yet the present experience makes the time past seem nothing more than casual friendship.

That’s where I’m at.  Thankful, and yet trying really hard not to be crushed or maimed beyond recognition.  More than willing to ‘spontaneously combust’.  Also thankful, to share the witness of so many who have sojourned in the desert before me.

Christ truly is my treasure and if dwelling in the desert is the means of gaining deeper ‘reverent intimacy’ with Him – it is exactly where I want to be.

Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works. ” (Psalm 73:25–28, NASB95)

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2 Comments

  1. Charles said,

    January 16, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Thanks for the honest, soul searching confession. You are in a fellowship, in HIs fellowship, in a Holy Place like Moses where the voice of truth speaks. Alone with God.

    He is transforming you into a great man because of God’s grace.

  2. Z said,

    January 17, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Thanks for the ‘spot’ Charles – you’re a great friend and brother in Christ. You represent well the love we came to know almost immediately at Royal Palms!


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