Friday, August 9, 2013
The Bottom of the Sugar Bowl
But what made this morning different was that I quickly discovered I was at the bottom of the sugar bowl. Peering down into the crystal-flecked container that still held the sparkle of sugar lost, I felt like Winnie the Pooh in one of his fumbled attempts as snagging the lost drop of honey.
There is nothing more deflating that staring at my steaming cup of a.m. Joe knowing that in its naked form I just don't care for the taste.
Yes, I was born and raised in the Starbucks capital of the nation. Yes, I love coffee. Yes, I love the smell. But alas, "you're not hard core unless you live hard core" and I am so not hard core. (Thanks, Jack Black). But unlike the comedian I just can't drink my coffee that way.
And in realizing that, I was suddenly hit with an unattractive understanding that I have a hard time removing all the extras in my life and in my faith that seem to make it go down easier. I am constantly trying to sweeten the pot. I am habitually trying to manipulate the facts in order to make it easier to digest.
I was lucky enough to listen to Jeff Vanderstelt of Soma church speak last weekend. He stripped down some very fundamental truths about Christian living that felt very much like a straight shot of espresso. No filter. No sugar. No pretty wrapping. Just black.
One Christian word that has always needed some sweetening for me is repentance.
I don't get it. Or, I guess I should say I didn't understand it, until it was explained to me by Jeff.
I mean how can you repent of something that you know you will do again even when you truly put your best efforts into never, ever even thinking about doing it again?
And then I heard this, "Repentance isn't a change in behavior- it's not turning away and not feeling that way anymore. Repentance is a change in belief about God."
He went on to further explain that we will continually forget about God and his good nature everyday. We will always question whether He knows what he is doing or not. But instead of focusing on the behavior we need to address the unbelief. We need to confess that we don't believe God is who He says He is. We need to own the fact that we believe we can do it better.
We need to confess that we try to dilute the taste of truth. We don't like it straight. We want to doctor it up to meet our needs to fit into our lifestyle. I do this, everyday.
And so we need to tell Him that everyday. We need to confess. We need to cut out the fluff. We need to stop trying to function on caffeine and willpower. We need to cut out the craving for the sugar high. We need to focus on the root problem of unbelief. We need to say out loud that we doubt His loving nature towards us.
I recently applied for a job as an associate editor at a local magazine. After reading the specs for the position, I desperately wanted it. The most part-time of all part-time positions, the job also offered the ability to work from home and stay with my two littles under 3. It would allow me to dive into feature writing and work with some of the best freelance writers and photographers in my area as well as get connected to the heartbeat of my community. It felt tailor made for me.
And do you know what I did when I applied for it? I didn't think God wanted me to get it.
Do you know how I reacted when I interviewed for the position and was waiting to hear back? I doubted that God wanted to give me the desires of my heart.
Do you know what I said moments before the call came in that I had indeed got the job? "I just keep getting doors slammed in my face. I guess God just wants me here. I have a sinking feeling I didn't get it. I should have heard by now." On and on and on.
Master doubter. Royal doubtess. UNBELIEF about my good God.
And no, not every desire of our heart is right for us. There were many doors that I knocked on before this that swung shut immediately. Many. There have been several moments of "almost" for me-- all of which ended in an abrupt no with no explanation. But I have to believe all of that is for my good. Every no is saving you for the right yes.
So ask yourself the next time you're doubting his goodness.
WHO is my God?
WHAT has He done?
And what does that say about WHO I AM? (Thanks Jeff! Once again.)
It all boils down to identity. If our identity stems from that all-gracious, all-powerful, all-beautiful throne of God, we can't help but be thrust into the sweet life of His plan for us.
If we are looking for substitutes, trying to create something all on our own, or don't believe he truly cares about our every day lives- we make Him a liar.
And so just that one morning I drank my coffee black. I didn't truly enjoy it- but it reminded me that sometimes the truths that are the hardest to swallow are the ones that are best for us.
We're in this together,