Monday, October 8, 2012

An Interesting Thought at 7am.

Monday mornings I have to be at work a half hour early.  Which means that I'm in the parking lot waiting for my boss to open the door right at or before 7am.  My normal morning routine is to listen to NPR on the way to work (about 10 minutes, tops) to catch up on news and weather.  Being that there is no news except political news right now, I have been turning the station over to my other mainstay, Life 96.5 out of Sioux Falls.  Yes, it is a bit lovey-dovey.  Yes, I do blaze the worship songs loud and sing my heart out like a 13 year old girl at a Justin Bieber concert.  I don't usually gain a whole lot of spiritual insight from the partial talks I hear on my way to work, but I'm not really looking for that anyways.

This past week is was Hotdish Week.  Hotdish week is the week where they have their Fall Fund Drive or something like it.  "Hotdish Week" is a term my father-in-law termed saying, "It's the week where they dig to the back of the fridge and throw it all together and put it on the air."  Hence, Hotdish Week.

So they wrapped this fund drive up last week, and still have a little giving on the tail end going on, which mean that the morning show hosts take a little more time to talk about how great the station is.

Well, this morning they were talking about getting bogged down in the faith.  They were going on about how, from time to time, they get in the place in their study and prayer lives that they feel bogged down and just feel that they can't connect with God.  And this happens, this I know happens, I was stuck in this place for the better part of two years.  I felt like I couldn't connect with God.  I felt that through study and prayer that I was just reading and talking to myself.  I felt that singing the songs and trying to grow in my faith through reading books by my favorite authors should catapult me back into growth.  Only to be stymied and still in need of something.

I would have loved to take a long weekend and just get away, but with a new job that required 50+ hours of work each week, not to mention a 2 year old at home, it was just not in the cards.

So what was it?  Where was God in all my searching?  Where was God in my scripture studies?  I read about him, but I didn't have a holy 2x4 type moment.  Where was God in my prayers?  I was desperately seeking and begging, crying out for God to retake my heart and heal it.  Where was God in my worship?  I would sing my voice hoarse, only to feel nothing.  Where.  Was.  God?

I was at a point where I had a fowl taste of faith.  I was jaded, skeptical about all things faith oriented.  God had apparently abandoned me after I was cut through the heart.  Was this the great healing that God brings?  Abandonment?

I all of a sudden knew first hand why so many people get cut deep and leave their faith all together.  I was two steps from packing up that part of my life and putting it in the "Wasn't that fun back when" box.

The only thing that kept me from taping that box shut was way back when I first was fired.  At one of the lowest times after being fired, I was a wreck.  I was sitting in my bed one night, crying out to God, "I am hurting!  I am broken!  Everything we've done has been undone!  I am nothing..."
I lay there, still.  Quiet.  Residing in my moment of brokenness.  Then, when the tears faded, when my mind and heart were more settled.  A small voice, barely a whisper.  It wasn't audible, but it may as well have been because it was clear as day, "I will restore you."  That was it.  It wasn't repeated.  It wasn't explained.  I was short, concise and direct.

Over the next couple of years of trying to find the path to restoration, I came up empty.  I would have given up if it weren't for that moment.  But isn't that the point?  Every attempt we make to try and restore ourselves will come up empty.  Even if it is reading the Bible or worshipping or even praying.  The thing is, God has agenda-less love for us.  If we have an agenda, whether it's seeking restoration or not, I think we short-change ourselves.  When we bring an agenda to God, we are trying to play the slot machine and win big.  We are trying to use God instead of communing with him.

So what happened?

Pastor John called me one night after work.  He asked me, "Kyle, we've received a request to have a high school guys group.  Is that something you'd be interested in?"

Now keep in mind, I've searched for God in all the ways I know how and have come up short.  So why would I want to enter into a leadership position when I am still feeling hurt and broken?  How can he ask this of me when I have been seeking restoration and he has let me fall flat?  Why would I even think to agree to this?

Because, I. will. restore. you.

I said to John, "Yeah, sure..."

Now picture this.  Here I am, feeling like the worst person in the world to lead a youth group.  Extremely unprepared.  Spiritually a mess.  What happens?

The first night with the couple guys that come we talk about stuff that I was only beginning to touch on in two years at the previous church.  The next week, we talk about stuff far deeper than I ever even hoped to get.  It was amazing!

But what did I find?  I found God again.  He was waiting there for me, for two years!  God knew that when we fall, we need to get back up.  And he was there for me.  I started feeling God's loving healing wash over me.  Worship on Sunday mornings became more meaningful.  Song would bring me to tears on the way to work in the morning.

It's been four months now and my heart is very much on the mend.  Cynicism has been on the outs.  I'm not jaded towards faith anymore.  I can stand to sit down and read a personal growth type book again.  The words in the Bible have come alive again.  My faith has been restored, and my growth is on the move again.

So what did I learn?  What happens when we're bogged down and just can't get going?  Go out and serve someone.  In whatever capacity you can.  Whether it's volunteering at a soup kitchen or getting involved in a youth group or even leading worship.  Get involved.  Get going.  We can't sit around and think that by continuing to reside in our brokenness and pain we're going to magically get healed.  It doesn't happen.  It takes work.  A lot of the healing comes through action.   But brokenness festers with inaction.

Even if we think that there's no way were able to do any good, get going.  In my experience, God supplements our shortcomings when we commit to agenda-less faith and action for his glory.  Nothing requires more faith than committing to something we know we're not ready for.  But our leaning on Christ in our insufficiency leads to a deeper relationship, a deeper faith, and the best type of healing.

Be blessed, and get out there.

My $.02


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