Monday, August 01, 2011

Grace Amidst Desolation

I have had one of the most unsettling, unproductive seasons of my life these last several months. It has been marked by discouragement, frustration, distraction, unrest, confusion, and occasionally despair.

Essentially, I have needed to be progressing with the writing of my thesis in order to finish and complete my graduation requirements for my Master's come October. At first, I attempted to plug away and get things done, but there came a point where I was so discouraged, so unfocused, that I stopped trying, and walked away from the whole process for over a month. Part of it was writer's block, part was that life just got incredibly messy, and I needed to move (and of course, looking for a new place, not finding one until two weeks after losing your current place, having everything in storage, needing to move in two stages, etc. does not at all lower the stress any). Yesterday, I was processing with my girlfriend Cary, and realized that a good portion of my disengagement in my academics was due to the fact that I am petrified of what is next. To finish is to be forced to move forward with life. I have no idea what that entails; the sin in me, my flesh, wants to have control of this when there is none to be had. It is God's territory, the future, and my disengagement was my fearful attempt to control the situation, even if it meant pain and costly misfortune financially... Funny how immature and selfish we can be.

As I resolved to break from academics, to rest in failing, I asked God to be with me in the process. He has been very faithful. I have not experienced the level of perceived condemnation that I would normally have taken upon myself in such failure. I almost feel as if God gave me permission to disengage from being responsible, from performing as one ought. This time has been an exercise in receiving grace, and His pardon has been full and sufficient. I have known it especially well through the love and support of those around me, those in my church and Cary.

I think there is a precedent of God working in this way, found in the story of Israel. Jewish history is riddled with occasion after occasion of them missing the mark, yet God remains faithful to them as a people and ultimately He "will banish ungodliness from Jacob" and "take away their sins" through the Deliverer (Romans 11:26-27). I have entered a season of completely missing the mark and have been met with acceptance and grace. I have not yet known such love as I am experiencing through this time. God truly has been using this season of my life, this wandering in the desert, to show me how enduring is His love, that He would send me manna from above, provide water from a rock, protection from poisonous snakes as I gaze upon the one lifted up.

I think my heart is nearly ready for the promised land, that next chapter of life marked by blessing and abundance, homecoming and joy and victory. I needed to fail, wander, and ponder my own ineffectiveness that I may press more into the provision of God. I'm not out of it yet, but I faintly see the dawn breaking.

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