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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Life. Truly.

I really want to get it right.
Not wasted.
Not wandering.

The word Life in the New Testament is one of my favorites. It means “life, referring to the principle of life in the spirit and soul.” It’s different from physical life. It’s the inner you, the part that lives and struggles so often in secret. The second part of the definition for inner life is mind-blowing to me. It expresses “all of the highest and best which Christ is and which He gives to the saints… (Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study New Testament, page 919).

Inner LIFE matters because it is where we first experience and reflect the Truth of Jesus. It’s where we receive His best gifts. Jesus-looking life on the outside has to first be experienced in the Inner Life – or it’s just wasted religion. This is my theme.

Over the past weekend I gathered at a beautiful cabin with a whole bunch of women. We were studying this idea. What does real life look like? How can we live a life that really matters?

Life can be so ordinarily draining. Do you ever feel like you can handle a crisis better than the monotony of everyday-ness? And while I jokingly teased about things I’m afraid of {a ridiculous conversation that included footie pajamas and clowns and should forever be filed under “you had to be there”}…the truth is that what I’m most afraid of is getting to the end of my life having wasted it. I dread being deceived into just enduring my life, being burdened down to the point that I merely survive it.

Our theme verse taught us to lay the “firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” 1 Timothy 6:19

In verses 12 and 19 we are told to "take hold of life." Which is a great idea until you try to do it and realize that your hands are already full.

Could it be that we can’t take hold of the inner life that we were created for because our hands are so full of junk? That "highest and best which Christ is" kind of life gets dumped in favor of what?….. {bitterness, control, fear, busyness, misunderstanding, bargaining, panic}.

There is a whisper that I often hear over my inner life. 
It has filled my head and hands for too long.
You’re not enough.

For many reasons, both real and imagined, I’ve lost ground to this whisper, which has at times been a shout. So I practice what I preach – and speak Truth over this lie, focus on my blessings, beg God for a new perspective….which usually lands me feeling guilty for complaining when there are so many people who really have reason to struggle. Does anyone hear me here?

But honestly, we all struggle. We do. It’s the life that kills LIFE. As I prepared to teach I was pushing through my insecurities and guilt trying to find a way to articulate what it means to “take hold of life that is truly life,” and was getting nowhere.

Until I saw this cross-reference from Philippians 2:7:

“Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, 
did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 
but emptied himself, 
by taking the form of a servant, 
being born in the likeness of men.”

I am to take hold of Life, because Jesus took hold of me….
He took on human-ness, me.

And as I considered how hard I was trying to be enough and take hold of life…I realized something big.

I’m not enough.
I'm not.

I’d been fighting what I thought was a lie, but it’s just flat true. On my own I am not enough, I don’t have it in me to take hold of true eternal life. God knows that. And centuries before I was born He thought enough of me to make a way. Jesus, who already had Life, who WAS Life – took hold of me, so that I could take hold of Him. He gave me all the highest and best that He is. 
How. Why?
It's a miracle.
One that I daily minimize with my own wasted efforts.
  • Efforts to lose weight and manage my schedule,
  • To write more, and reach out to more college students,
  • To train up my children,
  • and be a blessing to our parents,
  • and be the best friend,
  • and the perfect pastor’s wife…never enough.

I was overwhelmed to see anew that there is one place where I am enough just as I am. Broken and worn out and Inside-Out Ugly; full of the insecurity and brokenness of selfish failed efforts and the comparison that feeds them. There is one place I am enough, and it’s in the grip of Jesus, who took hold of me. I am not enough for my husband, children, ministry, family, friends. I am enough for Jesus because though He was already the fullness of Life on His own, complete and whole, needing nothing from me; He simply chose me, and I am enough for Him. When I accept that and tuck into it and walk in it, my efforts are transformed and my life becomes something beautiful and influential and well-spent.

Back to retreat, as we shared and walked through these verses together I challenged the women to write down one or two things keeping them from having open hands to take hold of life that’s truly life.

The windows slowly were filled with sticky notes representing the Not Enough-ness and fear and addictions we were letting go…so that we could freely Take Hold of Life.

As "The Struggle" by Tenth Avenue North played, we resolved to empty our hands. 
So join us. 
Drop the efforts that are draining you and take hold of Life. 

“Hallelujah we are free to struggle,
we’re not struggling to be free.
Your blood bought and makes us children.
Children drop your chains and sing.”

“How? you ask. 
In Christ.
God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong,
so we could be put right with God.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 MSG