Monday, June 17, 2013

Tissues, Tears, and Altar Moments - Given up, Given Over

So I have this package of tissues that I keep in my purse at all times.

They're from China.  Given to me by a friend as a "just in case" as I ran out the door of her flat to explore The Forbidden City.

I never opened them... That is until the day I left and my heart broke.  The day I sat in the back seat of an old car, windows rolled all the way down, and listened to the cries of "Zàijiàn, stef-ah-nyay! Wǒ ài nǐ!" I don't know much Chinese, but those are two phrases I never have forgotten: Goodbye and I love you!  And the tears fell freely, even as I laughed at those precious little bodies stuck half way out the second story windows, arms waving wildly.

Those tissues have lasted me this long because that's the only time I use them: when tears fall and my heart breaks.  I only use them during the "I give up" moments.  The "I'd like to plan my own way, thanks, but I am called to be a follower, not a planner" moments.  The wrestling with God moments.  The "Peniel - I have seen God face-to-face" moments.  They only come out in those moments when I realize in a deep way that the cost of love is grief, but love is always worth the price.

And there are moments - altar moments - when the call of God and the weight of His glory make it all too clear how much of a failure I am.  How weak and deeply human.  How prone to fear and idolatry, especially the idol of control.  And it doesn't get me very far.  And in those altar moments, the grace-filled call to surrender all is so clear, yet so painful to heed because, while I want the Lord to have all of me fully given over, the Lord does give and take away and to bless His name can be hard.  But I need to get to that heart-place daily.  Because "He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also graciously give us all things?"  (Romans 8:32)

All.  Things.  Maybe it won't look exactly like I imagine, but He will not withhold the desires of my heart.  This good God who loves me so deeply will hold nothing back.  So moment by moment, I need to practice giving up this trying to make things happen and giving over my heart and my life to Him to refine and reshape my desires and dreams.

And that is so. much. harder. than it sounds.  But I long to live that way... Given up and given over.