1/21/2007

Hadassah

It's pouring down rain suddenly. The air was so thick with moisture earlier and now the clouds have finally burst open completely. Just the sound drenches me and floods my ears.

I finished a book in a trilogy by my current favorite author Francine Rivers. It is the "Mark of the Lion" trilogy that she wrote back in the mid-nineties. They are epic tales of people in first century Rome. This woman's writings have done much to change my heart about God. Throughout my introduction with author in reading "Redeeming Love", I cried frequently at the idea of such a merciful, steadfast God that never turned His back on the main character even for a second. She brings the hardest skeptics and the most faithful believers together to describe the most important battle a human will ever face. She doesn’t hold back in her exploration of the heart, either. She has spoken many things to me that God has wanted me to understand just by falling in love with her characters and story.

That brings me to Hadassah. (mild BOOK SPOILERS WARNING for anyone who plans on reading the series. It’s not anything that will ruin the journey though) She is the main character in the first book titled, “A Voice in the Wind”. Throughout the few years of time that we witness, she never falters in her faith but is strengthened to the point where she is given the ultimate honor. At this point I would suggest reading Foxes Book of Martyrs for moving accounts of others blessed with that honor. It’s not the sacrifice that is most beautiful but the faith to walk into death unafraid.

I was out with Em and Casey last night as the designated driver. I wore the keys on my belt loop proudly and stopped drinking at about eleven o’clock. I was concerned when my buzz went away that I would grow tired and bored and miserable. But the energy in the bar was saturated with other drunks being abandoned that I stayed entertained even up the point of closing the bar at 2am. I danced with Emily and four brave young men, played darts with a couple fellas from Wisconsin, and flirted until I felt irresistible. The only difference in me was I had my mental faculties fully in place and ready for any kind of normal life challenge (i.e. car troubles, rude guys, someone throwing up, etc.). I felt responsible but not in the least un-fun. And most amazingly, I prayed and thought of a fictional slave girl from Francine Rivers’ mind. I was thinking, “What would Hadassah do?” She would serve her Lord and God with amazing peace and consider all those around her in their oblivion. I felt freer when I remembered the freedom that she had. I felt like faithfulness wasn’t out of my reach even after so many years of doubt. If only I would trust God with the things I’m scared to let go of, He would show Himself. Well, He showed Himself last night and I was filled with compassion for many of those around me. It wasn’t depressing but I felt surges of hope and joy. Anyone could see it on my face and that made me strangely attractive. I love to be attractive! It’s like one of my favorite things ever.

The bar doesn’t present any temptations that I can’t easily distract myself from or resist. It’s when the guys become my friends and provide opportunities for me to rationalize sin that it becomes the challenge. Something in my brain clicks off when something in my thighs clicks on. I can go from a pure virginal child of God to a panting dog in heat in a matter of seconds. If my guy-friends or ex-boyfriends or whomever aren’t gentlemen or a believers themselves, I end up doing something STOOPID. Luckily God protected me last night but not before He showed me how easily my faith was smashed by lust. It’s that parasitic sin that I long to be freed from. I was encouraged to read how Hadassah struggled in her love for an unbelieving man. Her thoughts were so understandable and reminded me of my own when I use to cry out to Jesus to save me from my deceitful heart. When did I stop praying for His help? I stopped praying when I stopped wanting Him to help me. Just the word, “Celibacy” makes me sick; that commitment to be unsexy and unattractive for the sake of the gospel. So much of my worth is built around how attractive I am to men. No wonder I wasn’t willing to let that go. But I see the way God is providing for me to rise above it. Hadassah was ten times more attractive because of her faith. I was so relieved when I read that she was more radiantly beautiful because of her peace and trust in God. She won the heart of a decadent pagan who could have had any woman in the land and she felt sick with love toward him as well. But God strengthened her to stand up under temptation and she persevered. Her life planted a seed in his heart that I hope sprouts the most loving gift of all in the Roman. I will have to wait until I get the next book in the mail to find out.

When we love, we think of other before ourselves. I may want to sleep with them but God, Himself wants to woo them. If I can cage the drooling canine of lust long enough to resist the temptation, God can strengthen my faith in Him and my confidence in His works.

1/14/2007

Ticks of Habitual Sin

"Good works authenticate our faith and a godly life affirms that the Spirit of God is working in our lives." - The Broken Messenger (www.brokenmessenger.com)

I'm not so sure the Spirit of God is working in my life. Except He does notify me of my sin. I repent and have the silly hope that I will not sin again in the same way, but the hope is dashed when I find myself suffering consequences of yet another stray from God's path.

My desire to be loved by boys is very strong and powerful. It even dulls the desire to do the right thing for God. Of myself I don't even want to stop sinning. It's only God's Spirit that will transform my desires, right? It's a doozy. I have been "boy crazy" since I was 5 years old. FIVE!!! And I think boys were crazy for me when I was even younger if I remember a certain nasty episode correctly. Lust has been such a big part of my life for so long it's no wonder that it's embedded in my heart so vehemently.

Yesterday Jon pulled a fat tick off of my Sophia. Ticks are nasty little parasites. I've seen them the size of a man's thumb out here. They are all grey and full of fluid. They have such a good grip that it takes tweezers and finesse to get them to let go. And they HAVE to let go otherwise their heads break off and stay in the skin. Then another tick grows from the head, this time it's a lot uglier. Just thinking about ticks makes me feel icky. Why did God make them? What's the point, LORD?

Perhaps one reason is so that I would draw this conclusion: Ticks are like habitual sin. I have a GIGANTIC one called Lust. It's invisible to everyone except God and me. I believe Jesus' Spirit can remove this tick, but until I believe He loves me enough to help me through the separation anxiety and the brand new existance that would mean for me, I am unwilling to hold still long enough for Him to put His tweezers on me. Will this stupid tick be the end of me? Oh Lord, I beg You to help me understand Your love. That Your love is worth the huge discomfort and the pain of separating from a lifetime of engrained habits.

I just picture Jesus pleading for me before the Father, "Give this child more time." It's like the fig tree. The gardener cared for the trees so much he pleaded to the Master for them. Though they were unfruitful and taking up space, the gardener believed in them. Oh Jesus please don't give up on me. I have been overcome with Lust since I was little more than a baby. The one thing I have sought more consistently than Truth has been love from a man. Do what You have to do to prune the dead parts of me before the gangrenous infection spreads and I wither at Your hand because it was too late to help me. When the King requires my soul of me I want to be ready for Him. But this lifetime of sin won't let me go on my own. Help my unbelief. It's hard to believe that You would really change me and my life so completely and drastically. Quickly? Maybe You are taking Your time because this kind of change takes time. Maybe You are waiting for me to choose something? To surrender? I understand now that nothing is impossible for You. If you want to, You can heal me.