Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Spaghetti Sermon

This morning Tim and I were talking about the "men are waffles/women are spaghetti" analogy.  Have you heard of it? If not, google it now :) It's a good fit, at least for me, because I haven't met a more spaghetti-minded person than myself.  If you trace my wandering thoughts through these posts, you've probably picked up on that.  But I do always circle back around to the truth through all the saucy mess.... most of the time anyway.

Normally, at least on this blog, I try to sort out my spaghetti and make it coherent for readers.  But today was such a strange journey that I want to publish it, sauce and all.  If you're interested, read on.  If not, go back and google  "spaghetti and waffles" and have fun with that.

Today was designed to be a to do list day.  My life has been so out of balance for the past few months that it felt good to have a day to just tick things off the list and regain a shred of sanity.  So I started out well... breakfast? Check. Bible study lesson? Check. Take the dog for a run? Check.

But it was during the run that my spaghetti which I was trying to keep all nicely knitted and organized started to unravel just like the hat I made Tim for Christmas.  Looks perfect until you put it on and then all the ends come loose.  Listening to Keith Urban on the mp3 player had me singing along with "You're my Better Half" then literally crying just because he told me to in "Cry".  Ridiculous!  Sometimes the logical half of me just steps out of myself and shakes her head in disgust.  Emily, pull yourself together! Why are you such a girl?

The rest of the morning continued in the same painful rollercoaster... soaring moments of happiness and satisfaction followed by plunging moments of disappointment and despair.  Am I ever going to be the person I need to be?  Am I ever going to get it together?  Will I always make mistakes and let down the people I love?  I felt weary, like I had wandered deserts and mountains, only to end up where I started... and I never even left my house.

Finally I decided to stop trying to figure myself out, stop trying to answer all the questions and stop listening to the sermons I was preaching in my head from the Book of Emily (which is not inspired Scripture and should be thrown out!) and listen to someone who knows what he's talking about.  So I filled my mop bucket, soaked my rag and began scrubbing the floors to the insight of John Piper and this sermon:

It's called "What is the Recession For?" and really has more to do with financial issues than emotional issues like mine.  But I am spaghetti, and so I make connections and applications to everything.  Here are three of the  main points of the sermon, and how they connect and apply to this messy journey of understanding I've traveling on for the past few months.

In God's plan the recession is a golden opportunity for us that we must not waste, with these main purposes.

1. To Expose Sin and Give Repentance
Piper used the illustration of a beaker full of clear water with sediment on the bottom.  One bump and the sediment stirs, clouding what looked so pure and holy before it was unsettled.  In the same way, hard times "bump" us and reveal to us what is really lurking in the dark corners of our hearts.  And praise the Lord that they do!

This is the biggest lesson God has been teaching me lately.  It is mind blowing and possibly worthy of a blog post all its own. I am more likely following God when my sin is evident and ugly to me.  When I feel like I have everything together, I am deceiving myself (1 John 1:8) and God cannot work with me.  But He is near to my broken, contrite heart that is acutely aware of its own depravity and immensely grateful for His atoning grace.  When my life looks dirty and cloudy it is because God is hard at work cleaning me up.  He will not abandon His work!

2. To Awaken Us to World Poverty
My troubles (really just trifles) are NOTHING in comparison to what Christians joyfully face every day around the world.  I whine when someone disappoints me, while another sits alone in prison, rejected by the world but rejoicing in God.  I stress about taking out a loan to pay for my school while another rejoices as she savors the one bowl of rice she will eat today.  Piper said he is more inclined to pray for sick people when he is sick, and my failures and "afflictions" should remind me to pray all the more fervently for others in the same boat.

3.  To Relocate the Roots of Our Joy in His Grace Rather Than in Our Goods
This is what it boils down to.  My biggest struggle these days is not discontentment with my circumstances as much as it is discontentment with my foolish, failing, falling flesh. But this is because I want to look to myself and feel satisfied, and to have others look to me and feel satisfied.  What a false desire!  The only path to joy is the path to Jesus, and if I were perfect I would rob myself and others of the joy of depending on Jesus.  May I rejoice in my failures because through them God's grace is magnified.  May I rejoice in my inability to please people because through my inability, God's tremendous ability shines through.  May I rejoice in my poverty because to the poor in spirit belongs the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3).  

I came away at the end of the sermon with a clean floor and a refreshed spirit, reminded that sometimes it's important to stop trying to sort out all your spaghetti, figure yourself out, and interpret life from your own lens.
 Sometimes it's important to slow down and listen to someone else's voice for a while.  Especially when that voice is speaking the Word of God.

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