Sunday, April 15, 2012

Broken

Our hearts are often like stone—hard and cold and seemingly impenetrable—the appearance of flesh is often only a thin veneer. We wall off and erect edifices around our hearts for protection; we build these walls as hedges from pain and responsibility and change.


Eventually we develop granite hearts—smooth and buffed to a high sheen. In the buffing the colors pop and the patterns emerge. Lovely, but oh, so cold. In our coldness we want to look good. We don’t want a crack on the surface to flaw the appearance. We want the world, the people on the outside, to see perfection.

Then comes God’s Spirit and trailing with him is the Word. And through the Word the Spirit confronts us. And we must make a choice. Do we remain this cold, beautiful slab of marble or do we surrender? We are afraid of surrender. We are afraid of losing control. And surrender means we willingly turn control over. As passive as I am I struggle with control. I grapple with different types: control of self, control of situations and control of others. Passivity does not guarantee surrender—not the real kind.

I know.

But if we get brave enough to surrender this slick plane to him then his Spirit brings his word and it falls like a hammer. Lifted over and over—slamming against the granite. And the granite begins to break. First, a weakening, then a fissure and then a split. The false veneer cracks. Two halves fall apart and create a cavern between revealing vulnerable flesh. And then, only then, are our hearts broken open—like Mary’s alabaster jar.

We must be broken to worship. You don’t need to be broken to sing praise songs on Sunday morning. No, but to worship in spirit and in truth* our stiff necks must be cracked against the edge of the door or the side of the table. Why? Only in the brokenness is the essence of nard released (Mt. 6:13).

Oh, but we resist. This seems a harsh method we cry. We want God to offer another option; we don’t want to be broken. We don’t want the surface of this granite to be marred. Just use the granite, God. It’s a beautiful surface. Please don’t break us—you are a God of love. How can love break anything? Please don’t allow others to see our weaknesses and our vulnerabilities. Please don’t require that of us.

But if we desire to give and live in honest worship then we must be broken.

I don’t want to be broken, God.

But I long to be like Mary’s alabaster jar. I long to abide in a place of worship.

So, let your hammer fall. Crack open this polished (which may not be as polished as I believe it to be--the heart is often deceived.) surface. Reveal the flesh underneath. I will trust you to deal with me gently. Break me and release the hidden nard.

Confront me with your Word and may the impact cause me to fall backward into your outstretched arms.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

5:00 A.M. ?

Several months ago I found myself hating mornings. When the alarm would go off I would roll over and hit the snooze until I just simply couldn’t manage to remain in bed any longer. Then I would get up and push through the morning routine at a pace that would have challenged a thoroughbred. I watched the clock constantly—always on the edge of panic as the minutes would tick by and I would realize one more thing had been left undone. Or I would discover that the pants I wanted to wear were in the laundry, or my brown shoes were MIA. By the time breakfast arrived I was off-kilter and already biased against the day.

This routine and attitude was not working. And the Spirit let me know. I was praying (let’s be honest it was more like whining). I asked for more sleep and more energy. I asked for God to change things for me. I asked him to do something. The answer I was given was not what I expected and certainly not what I wanted.

Get up earlier.

I thought surely I haven’t heard correctly. I already get up at 5:30 am. Get up earlier? How is that going to help me? How is this going to help my energy level and my lack of sleep? I just didn’t understand. But this was the answer I was given every time I prayed concerning this issue.

Reluctantly I obeyed. One night in February I set my alarm for 5:00 am. Just thirty extra minutes, but I had asked what to do and I had been given a very specific answer. Who was I to ask only to not follow through? Why bother to ask if I wasn’t going to implement what I heard?

My goal was to get up at 5:00 am and be ready a little before 6. Then I would spend thirty to forty minutes in quiet—journaling, reading and praying. Not necessarily in that order. Now, I understand that lots of people get up even earlier and spend even more time than I allotted. I understand this. But this was my journey and journeys can’t be compared; they can only be shared and discussed.

Obedience is a remarkable thing. It is an incredible place to abide. This short period of solitude has wrought a transformation in me. I have been reborn.

Sounds cheesy and religious, right? Perhaps, but I don’t care.

The content of The Chambered Nautilus has always been a result of my journaling. Just as my journaling has been sporadic lately so has the frequency of my posts. It is time to write and share again. The simple fact is that you can’t share if you haven’t been filled. You can’t be filled if you haven’t been still. I had lost the ability to be still. Routine, schedules and demands had wearied me to the point my spiritual nerves were numb.

They are no longer numb. Each one is thrumming.