And You Really Thought You Knew Me

One evening last summer I had dinner with my best friend of 20+ years.  I love saying I have a friendship that’s lasted that long.  I love that every time we talk on the phone or see each other we can just start a conversation without having to give a lot of context.  We just know each other and our families extremely well.  However…

Over the few months before that dinner with her that God had been so gently revealing His truth about grace to me and exposing the lies of the enemy that I had chosen to believe instead of receiving His grace, I was very guarded about what I shared…with anyone.  Normally when I have some sort of huge revelation or sense something from the Lord I talk incessantly about it to anyone who will listen.  This was different though.  The more God showed me about myself during those months, the more exposed and naked I felt and the less I shared with people.  I assure you, avoiding naked is a top priority for this girl!  So I was very reluctant to discuss it with anyone, even my closest friend.

I was also processing all of this on the down low because I was not sure what TO DO  with all this truth about myself staring me in the face.  I’m not comfortable being the one in the room who hasn’t figured it out.  I like being Solution Girl, not Needy-Broken-Doesn’t-Have-It-Together-Girl.  My needy brokenness has really overwhelmed me in a lot of ways.

Back to our dinner…so I decided that night to take some first steps and begin uncorking the bottle for my BFF on what had been going on in my life.  I had even sent her a rough draft of some things I’d been writing before dinner so she could get a peek at what had been going on inside my head.  We talked, we laughed, she listened a lot.  As we were walking to our cars we hugged and she laughed and said, “I really had no idea this had been going on with you all of these years.  I just thought you were wonderful and your stomach problems were genetic.”

 Now this is THE girl friend in my life who I would say knows me better than anyone else and loves me no matter what.  In that moment it hit me what a tremendous deception I had managed to perpetrate on her, and honestly on everyone else in my life, for over 20 years.  I had managed to completely hide my true self from her.  I got into my car totally stunned.

When you live your life trying to hide who you really are, you keep people you love the most at arms-length.  Until recently it had never occurred to me that in order to be close to someone you have to be willing to be vulnerable before them.  Exposed.  Naked.  Honest.  It never once crossed my mind that it is not only ok to have problems, but in order to have close relationships you have to share them with others (believe me, I am just as shocked as you that I have been this slow most of my life).

The same thing is true with our relationship with God.  His invitation is to come as we are.  He doesn’t want only the pretty, smart, well-put-together parts.  He wants our mess.  He wants our sin.  He wants all the ugly we want to pretend is not there.  Why?  Why does He want EVERYTHING?  It’s the same thing He’s wanted all along…He wants relationship with us.

How about you?  Do you find yourself holding back in important relationships?  How well are you willing to be known?  Does being known frighten you?  Do you make it easy for others to share their brokenness with you?

Expectations

It took a lot for me to not post this right after my last piece on Jeremiah, but I did promise I would try to write about my overflow of Jeremiah thoughts on Fridays AFTER our Bible study class meets on Thursdays.  I am, however, actually writing this immediately after the last Jeremiah post because I can’t quite move on in my mind and I am still trying to unpack the wealth of treasure God placed in that first AMAZING chapter.

Going back to the first three verses from last week, God reveals some very important personal information about Jeremiah:  he was “the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin.”  In that sentence God tells us that Jeremiah was a priest, which means he was a Levite, the only tribe set apart by God to serve as priests.  By telling us that Jeremiah was “of the priests of Anathoth” (a city set apart for the sons of Aaron, see Joshua 21), it is also very possible that Jeremiah was an Aaronite. Aaronites were a very specific group of priests who made all the offerings to the Lord. They also took turns serving as High Priest in the Temple. Other Levites could not serve in these ways.

What has captivated my thoughts is this, Jeremiah grew up expecting to serve in the priesthood just like his father.  He expected it and his family expected it.  If he was indeed an Aaronite He probably spent time studying and learning how to be a priest and how to appropriately offer all the sacrifices God required (just read the book of Leviticus).  His future was defined in many ways simply by the fact that he was born into a certain family.  According to God’s own law Jeremiah’s occupation was predetermined for him.

But then, when he was still a youth, “the word of the Lord came” to him and his life was changed forever.  He was set apart and called to speak for God Himself as a prophet not just to his own people, but to the nations (and to us if you will).  When we explore all 52 chapters of Jeremiah, we find that he carried out his new career plan faithfully.  Faithful – that word doesn’t seem adequate to describe a man who endured death threats, beatings, imprisonment and near starvation so that God’s wayward people would hear the truth of His love – there must be a much bigger word to describe a man like that.

The question that is rolling around in my mind is, how do I respond when God’s plan doesn’t match my expectations?  Do I faithfully walk in the way He puts before me?  Or do I sulk and take myself out of the game because I don’t like the new play God’s calling?  Am I willing to lay down my own expectations, even when they seem to be godly, to be part of what God is doing or do I make it all about me?

I don’t know about you, but in a lot of ways my life looks nothing like I expected.  Honestly it’s been a lot more difficult than anything I imagined, but would I change any of it?  Absolutely not!  It’s all brought me to this place, at this time with the people I couldn’t imagine living without.  And it’s all brought me to my knees in surrender to the One who sees it all.

Is there something God’s calling you to that doesn’t match your expectations? How will you respond?