Saturday, February 23, 2013

Not Enough: The Half Truth and The Whole

So, my blog life has been strangely silent. I have no apologies, but maybe an explanation is in order. Here goes.

I have been mildly depressed since, oh, about New Year's Day. I remember having a day off for the holiday. I was home alone. I felt sick (because this cute little brown eyed blonde girl infected me with a cold that turned into a beast of a sinus infection). I had only been back home a couple of days after spending time with my family. I was feeling lonely, which is not too normal for me. And it hit me that I didn't feel like doing anything besides sleep.

And I'm still kind of in that place. I'm not sad. I'm taking care of myself. I'm going to work and spending time with friends and just generally loving life.  But when I get home at the end of the day, I don't want to do anything.

I do think a lot of my problem has to do with the winter. It's cold. I get home and get cold and just want to lie down. My depression isn't a sad sort of depression. It's an apathetic depression, which might be worse.

And on top of that, I've been super sensitive. An innocent comment can turn me into an emotional wreck. If I even think that someone might possibly disapprove of me or of what I do, it makes me paranoid and defensive. If I fail, I'm super critical of myself. And I've really had to fight against that sort of mindset lately.

And then one day, maybe a few weeks ago, it hit me what was really going on. There's a lot of good stuff going on right now. God's been teaching me more about what it means to be burdened for others. God has been working in me and through me in lots of little ways. I've got a fundraising 15 mile run lined up for April. The funds are going towards an overseas mission trip, which I'm excited, honored, and completely terrified to be a part of. I'm terrified because I'm pretty sure the things I'll be doing on the trip will be things I never thought I'd do before--like public speaking and teaching and...stuff. But God's showing me that there's things He has for me that are so beyond my expectations of myself. ...I mean, there was a time when I thought I was bad with Who knows what other ways I could be wrong about myself? Bottom line, God's got some big stuff to do in me and through me.

And Satan doesn't like it. And Satan has been throwing his best stuff at me. He's hitting me in my insecurities. He's throwing apathy at me. He's trying to make me sin by not trusting, by disobeying, by looking for fulfillment in things besides God. I'm not just saying "The devil made me do it." I'm at fault for my own sin. But I'm not blind to the fact that Satan is trying to keep me out of what God is doing. Which must mean that something awesome is about to happen.

Satan is a sore loser.

I'm learning right now that one of Satan's favorite tactics is the half truth. He loves them. In fact, I think a lot of people are going to go to hell because they believe half truths.  People believe God is loving, and He is, but they fail to see that He is also holy. People believe that God is good, and He is, but they fail to see that He is also just. People believe that we're supposed to love our neighbor, but neglect to understand that love doesn't mean you stand idly by while people sin. And these are crafty little half truths that keep us from the whole truth that will set us free. Satan's been using them for a long time. In the garden of Eden he asked Eve, "Did God really say you can't eat any fruit? You won't die if you eat it. You'll have knowledge. You'll be like God." ...he told part of the truth while blatantly lying about the rest. "Did God really say...?" That's how he works.

And lately Satan has told me many half truths. "You're not enough. You can't help your friends who are hurting. You can't bear their pain. You can't heal their wounds. You make too many mistakes. You fuss at kids. You don't teach your preschool class as well as you should. You don't teach your Sunday school class well. You are awkward. You can't do anything right. You have hangups about a lot of things. People don't understand you. You're backwards. You waste time. You sin. You pursue things besides God. You fail. You mess up. You aren't worthy of grace. You. Are. Not. Enough."

Satan said, and is still saying, all those things to me. And it's easy to listen because, well, he's right. The things Satan sometimes tells us are true, but not the whole truth.

I'm not enough. That is undeniably true. But the whole truth is, God IS enough. Through my sin, through my failures, through my weakness, HE IS GOD. And nothing can separate me from His love. If I run away, even if I could run fast, He's fast enough to catch me.  Even if I fail, He is powerful enough to redeem. Even if I rise on the wings of the dawn or settle on the far side of the sea, even there His hand will guide me, and His right hand will hold me fast.

Satan tells me a lot of half truths. He tells me I'm not enough. But I know the whole truth, and it does set me free. The truth is, I don't have to be enough, because God is enough.

And Satan is going to keep throwing his best stuff at me. Some days will be better than others. But the battle for me has already been won. If Satan is after me, well, so is God. And He's stronger, and He's smarter, and He knows me perfectly. And still loves me. You're right, Satan. I'm not worthy. But God's worth confounds my worthlessness. His love conquered death. That power is at work in me.

I'm going to get through this rough time. Hopefully spring will help chase away the blahs, or maybe I'll just have to wait for a more figurative spring. Either way, I'm thankful for even this season. The daffodils are blooming even in the ice and cold and snow. By His grace, I think I am too.

Monday, February 4, 2013


Matthew 5:9 NASB

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."

When I was a naive kid, I used to read that verse and get excited about how God might want to use me to bring about WORLD PEACE. I used to think that making peace meant staying out of fights or doing whatever I could to stay away from conflict. 

In theory, of course. I have a big sister who is the polar opposite of me. We fought and argued like crazy. And I'm stubborn; sometimes I like to argue or stand my ground just so I can pretend I'm right. So even if my childish ideas of peacemaking ever were at all practical, I wasn't good at putting them into practice anyway.

But my ideas were never reality. The reality is, there won't be peace on this earth as long as there are people living on it. We're sinners. We're selfish. We want our own way. And being a peacemaker is just...well...hard.

It's also not passive. I once believed that avoiding conflict was peacemaking. It can be part of it, but peacemaking involves work, and lots of it. It involves giving of self and time. It involves risk and pain. In fact, peacemaking involves war.

We too easily forget that we are at war, that there are forces of evil working against us all the time. There's terrible injustice in the world. There's corruption. There's compromise. And Satan would like nothing better for us to be passive, to pretend that there's nothing wrong or that there's nothing worth fighting for.

That's not the case.

I don't claim to be a peacemaker or even really know how to be one, but I believe it takes a great amount of discernment, of humility, of personal sacrifice, of endurance. 

It takes discernment to know what things are worth fighting for. It takes discernment to know whether to be silent or to speak, when to embrace and to refrain. Peacemaking involves far more wisdom than anyone can muster up on their own. Peacemakers need to pray for guidance, that their minds and hearts will be open to truth, that God will convict and lead them according to His will. We can't claim we know His will unless we continually seek it, unless we continually seek Him.

Peacemakers MUST have humility, first to admit that they are sinners in need of grace they can never repay. They must be willing to yank the planks out of their own eyes before trying to help pull out another person's speck. They must be willing to overlook minor insults, and deal graciously with more major offenses. They must point others to truth instead of just trying to prove themselves right.  They must be quick to offer apology and restitution for any offenses they caused, whether they are accidental or intentional offenses. They must be willing to, whenever possible, make peace with all men, so far as it depends on them (Romans 12:18).

Peacemakers must be willing to sacrifice. Peacemaking involves time, energy, emotional investments. A person can't hope to make real peace unless that person truly, selflessly cares. Peacemaking often involves confronting others with truth-often truth others don't want to hear.  Peacemaking sometimes means standing by God's truth even when no one else is standing by it. Peacemaking can even involve force when injustice is severe. Peacemakers risk the potential of ridicule, of losing friends for the sake of truth, even of personal harm in some extreme cases. When something is worth fighting for, there often can't be peace without a painful struggle.

And sometimes that struggle doesn't end overnight. Sometimes the struggle goes on for years. Sometimes a peacemaker must pray and wait and pray and hope and pray and hurt and pray for years, with no guarantee that peace will ever come.

I know about a mom who is fighting a very unjust ruling over the custody of her son. Her son is worth fighting for.

I know several people who are compromising or even denying their faith to follow the world and its understanding. Their souls are worth fighting for.

I am burdened for those children, for those men and women who are trapped in slavery, some of them who have never known joy and hope. Their freedom is worth fighting for. They are worth fighting for.

Maybe the true definition of a peacemaker is a person who can't have peace until others have it too...and not the peace that this world gives, but the peace of God.

I used to have this saying. "Love is the only weapon that cannot fall into the wrong hands."  No one ever liked that saying, so I stopped saying it, but I still believe there's truth to it. Love, prayer, truth. These are the weapons we have against satan and all the forces that are trying to steal peace. We aren't fighting flesh and blood.

And I don't know if I'll ever be a true Peacemaker, but I do know I'm a child of God. And I do know that He's giving me a heart like His own, one that breaks for those who have no peace. I can't be passive anymore.

God came down in humility as a baby, lived as a man, died on a cross, and defeated death...all to make peace with a rebellious people.

Peace is costly.

But I believe it's something worth pursuing.