My monthly Southern Living magazine arrived in the mail today. It’s the November issue and “Thanksgiving Southern Style” is emblazoned on the cover with images of a pumpkin cheesecake, pear dumplings and beautiful seasonal floral arrangements. The table is set with an elegant crystal cake stand and gold-rimmed china and crystal on a classic white tablecloth. Memories from my formative years in the South leapt from the past to the present as I gazed at the magazine cover. In an instant, I was homesick!
Sorting Out Me From Him
After several moments of reflection, I realized I was homesick for what once was and what I thought my life would be. Over the past weeks, I’ve been trying to discern the desires of my heart from the desires the Lord has given me. It’s tough going at times when you’ve carried certain dreams with you so long that you can’t separate your desires from the Lord’s. That’s the lesson the Lord has been teaching me lately, sorting out me from Him. We are separate and yet one. My flesh cohabitating with His Holy Spirit. The Lord has been trying to get me to see His path for me, and it’s not the path my flesh has created. My self-made path was littered with unmet expectations and discontent.
The lump of melancholy in my heart was abruptly dislodged by the comments of a wise older women. She said, “You know you’re serving in the flesh when you’re serving with two companions…stress and anxiety.” Bam! I was hit right between the eyes with the truth. I had been hanging out with stress and anxiety and invited fear and doubt to join us! A party of five feasting at the table of discouragement.
The wise woman was trying to get me to understand that communing with God is living without fear. She explained, “When we’re truly communing with God, there is no room for fear.” I had been living with fear and second guessing where the Lord had placed me. And I got there by focusing too much time on myself – my expectations and the expectations others unwittingly had thrust upon me. My personal introspection had taken focus off the Lord and His joy. The fruit bearing was quickly drying up.
As C.S. Lewis said, “It is in the process of being worshipped that God communicates His presence to men.” That’s the worship part – the reflection on the Lord, His attributes, His greatness. That’s where I drifted off a bit. I was so intent on seeking the Lord and His will, that I forgot to rest in His presence – to praise and adore Him and meditate upon Him.
My lack of praise and adoration of God led to dissatisfaction with life – the very life He had given me rich with abundant blessings. This is the lesson He has been teaching me, the application of Philippians 4:11b-12:
“…for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.”
Longing for Home
Remembrances of times past reminded me of my longing for the Lord in the present. It’s more than a Christian longing for a future home in heaven. It’s about the Christian, in his or her present circumstances, living with the Lord on this side of eternity. I had left my home, so to speak. I had left His presence in the throne room. Fortunately, He is patiently waiting for me there. He has not left. It is I that must return through worship of His worth-ship.
I’m reminded of Joseph S. Carroll’s commentary of Mary, sister of Martha, in his book How to Worship Jesus Christ:
Mary anointed Christ against his burial. How did she know? He revealed it to her. None of the others knew, but she knew. Why did He reveal it? Mary had chosen. She knew what is was to have intimate fellowship with her Lord; therefore, she received a great reward: the unspeakable honor of sharing the deep feelings of His heart.
That is my desire. To share the deep feelings of His heart. Not to wallow in the depths of earthly expectations and self-absorption. David said it so well:
One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD
And to meditate in His temple. Psalm 27:4
What’s the secret of living a contented life? “Resting, resting in the joy of what Thou art.”
Jesus! I am resting, resting
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For, by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.
Jean S. Pignott, 1876