Helm, Make Your Depth 1200 Feet, Damage Control Teams on Standby, Flood Tubes One Through Four

Helm, Make Your Depth 1200 Feet, Damage Control Teams on Standby, Flood Tubes One Through Four

So, it’s been a couple of weeks now, two Wednesday night Bible studies and two Sundays. During that time, my family’s life has seen some astounding changes. Karri, my wife, is diving deep into Driscoll’s “Religion Saves (and nine other misconceptions)” book and sermon series with reckless abandon. In the midst of impending loss (her sister is in the later stages of terminal brain cancer), her discipleship is deepening. It’s such a reversal of course that she’s becoming even more MY hero.

The kids are doing great. Lily bursts out with, “Jesus loves me!” at the dinner table after reminding me that we need to pray. Laurel will chant the prayer over and over as she eats (or refuses to, either way). I’ve started praying with Lily at night much more seriously, after we pray her singsong-y children’s prayer. I want her to hear me pray deeply and spirit-led, because I don’t want her to have the impression that such things are always superficial. Even if she doesn’t understand now, someday she may look back and hear those words and understand them.

As for myself… I think I may have reached a depth that I will have to stay at for a while as I acclimate and wrap my mind and heart around some things. I joke about rivets popping and joints spraying steam in the submarine that is my faith, but a few of the more recent revelations have been like depth charges in truth. Frankly, I’m struggling with how to apply these truths to my life without going batty and discarding the last bits of who I am, or was, and becoming some sort of hyper-spiritual Christian with no friends. How DO you give up everything without losing you? I’ve laughed and caroled my way to the edge of this precipice, talking up a great game about what I’d do, or mistakenly thinking I’d already done it, but now that I’m looking over the edge it’s very difficult to actually take the final leap and toss away the last bit (or what seems like the last bit) of the sinful me.

I’m talking here about giving up my idols. The things I cling to that tell me who I am. I spend loads of money every month on video games. I spend a lot of time on them as well. Guess what? The things we spend our money and time on are the things we worship. It’s an idol. We’ve also canceled DirectTV. Too often we can get pulled into the boob tube on some mindless escapist entertainment that is all too often just a provider of more ways the Enemy’s servants can sink hooks into us. So, when I’m home we hook my laptop up, watch the shows we really loved on iTunes or Hulu (Top Chef, Top Gear, etc) or sermons by John Piper, Driscoll, Pete Wilson, etc. We’ve recently listened our way through Focus on the Family’s radio dramatization of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters as well. I feel like, to use a characterization stolen from Mark Driscoll, we’re charging the gates of Hell with waterguns.

Here’s one of my snags: if I were to excise from my life everything that is a stumbling block to giving glory to God, I might as well stop breathing right now. (No, I’m not suicidal. Far from it.) Really, though, the very fact of life on earth is a stumbling block to being a perfect reflector of God’s glory. There is no possible way to exist in the world we live in and not be affected by the rampant, gleeful sin that takes place around us. It’s infectious, virulent and almost always so small that by the time you’ve spotted it, you’re already guilty. I’m brought to a place where I ask the famous question, “How Should We Then Live?”

Thankfully, Francis Schaffer’s book by the same name is next in line on my stack. I’m also eyeing Desiring God by John Piper. I’ve yet to finish it and I think it’s time I really made my way through it seriously. There are two things lacking in the way I’m approaching my faith right now, so far as I can see it. First, I’m neglecting the Joy of God in His created things. I need to relax and see the world as God sees it, with unlimited love. Secondly, I have issues connecting deeper theological issues with people whose submarines(their faith) aren’t remotely ready to dive deep. Part of this may be my inability to see where they are in their faith and connect only appropriate truths for them, and part of it may be a sense of pride or arrogance on my part that wants to make some deep point and be praised for my depth of faith. Ugh. Makes my skin crawl when I catch myself doing stuff like that. I’m excited about my faith, yes. I’m an utter Jesus Freak and Bible geek, but when I start exhibiting it for the praise of man, I’ve completely gone off-track on a collision course with the Grace of God. I need to learn to help teach people at THEIR level, to put vast mysteries in little boxes they can open, digest and understand. Otherwise, how the hell am I going to reach a flock?

Oh, what truths have I been struggling with?

Every time God explains what He’s about to do, you know the reason He gives for whatever it is He’s about to do? “I will gain glory.” “It’s for my glory.” “I will be glorified.” Don’t take my word for it, go look. My favorites are Exodus 14, Isaiah 43:7, Daniel 9:17-19 (Daniel prays for Jerusalem’s salvation because it bears God’s name!), John 11 and John 13.

We exist, we scurry around this watery planet and draw breath after providential, miraculous breath for a single reason: to reflect God’s glory back to Him. The more we DO these things we were made to DO, the more content we become. When Paul talks about having found the secret to contentment in all things (Philippians 4:10-13), I think this is what he found. And you know the crazy thing? Having found it, I’m no closer to understanding or implementing it in my life. It’s the meaning of life, it’s the lasting, permanent, rock-solid filler for the hole in our lives, and it’s almost beyond our natures to actually DO it.

Had someone explained this to me just two or three years ago, I’d have rejected it outright. I’d have said, “no way can I follow a God whose only reason for creating and then allowing sin to corrupt, destroy and cause terror and pain is for His glory. That’s tragic, not triumphant. It’s an utter tragedy, and kills any hope of faith in my life.”

Now I’m where I am. I am saved by the unmerited Grace of my creator, and allowed, given the strength should I accept it, to walk the path Jesus showed us how to walk when He lived. God’s total self-concern isn’t tragic to me now, it’s hope. It’s a recognition that He is in fact God and I am not, and that this fact alone, long before His Grace saved me, obligates me to worship at His feet and reflect His glory as I am enabled by the Holy Spirit.

I give up my aspirations, my ambition for myself, my hopes and dreams of comfortable retirement in or around the caribbean, my desires to see my wife adorned in the best the world can offer in fashion and jewelry and for my children to want for utterly nothing. I give up my pain, my history of stupid mistakes and loud support for moral wrong. I give up my love of video games, motorcycles and comfort food. I give up my infatuation with the sound of my own voice and my own ideas, my pride in the intelligence and wisdom God gave me. I give up my self.

Substitute yourself for me, Lord. Take it all. Take everything. Take from me until there is nothing left of me, and then bring me alive in You. Give me Your fiery purpose, Your gentle touch, Your submission to the will of the Father, Your wisdom, Your love. Indwell me and let the fire of Your glory sear the wounds in my soul shut. Fill the emptiness with Your presence. Teach me to love my family, my church and my fellow man with the same reckless abandon with which You went to the cross. Open my eyes to my faults and show me how to correct them. Lead me, repeatedly, through the valley of the shadow of death, if by doing so I can gain You glory. Let every moment of pain I suffer as well as every pleasure and comfort give You glory and praise.

Show me what You showed Paul. Do in my life what I am incapable of doing myself. The changes I’ve made so far are the tip of the iceberg and are paltry compared to the glory that is You. Make my life a beacon of Your glory in the midst of a dark and sinful world that you might, through me, draw more to the wellspring of living water that is Your Son, Jesus. May the light You shine through me light the paths of those around me, whether they be few or many.

This prayer I pray this day and every moment of my waking life, in the strong and holy name of Jesus Christ, my risen and exalted savior. Amen.

 

PS: That prayer was… unexpected. I didn’t exactly sit down to write that… but rereading it, I really do mean it. I think this is what it means to really have a relationship with my creator. Oh man, was that a seal giving way in the corridor? *picks up 1MC* Damage control team to the bridge corridor *clicks off the mic* watch officer, what’s your depth?

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