"The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing —
to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from —
my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing,
all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back."

~C.S. Lewis

Sunday, June 26, 2011

On the complicated simplicity of God's will

Sometimes it seems as if I expect things to be complicated, they will be, and if I expect clarity, it will come. I was reading the book Christy the other day—a good book—and it said something that struck me as my own desire (pg. 310-1):

“[Then Miss Alice said,] ‘And as for religion being vague—well, it isn’t. It’s been the delight of my life to find God far more common-sense and practical than any human I know. The only time I ever find my dealings with God less than clear-cut is when I’m not being honest with Him. The fuzziness is always on my side, not His.’”

I paused over these words. But “God’s will” was rather mysterious, wasn’t it? No matter what I said I believed, in the secret place of my heart, I couldn’t quite count on Him to make His will clear. I would always be a little uncertain, a little in the dark; I would continue to question myself, my actions, my faithfulness—not much, of course—not enough to seem doubtful, certainly—but just enough to be “humble.” Always a little fuzzy, always slightly second-guessing. Because, after all, I was just human; I wasn’t perfect. Yes, that was it.

Or was it?

I was expecting confusion and had hardly considered that, perhaps, confusion about God’s will in my daily life and everyday actions was more my foolishly second-guessing what was already clear-cut, as Miss Alice said. I know enough—enough Scripture—enough theology—enough teaching—I needed to know no more. What if I merely applied through the Holy Spirit what I knew and trusted that that was enough to accurately be led directly into the heart of Christ?

Perhaps I could know and know more deeply and confidently than I ever believed possible. After all, I am the Beloved of Christ, not the Performer in Christ: I do not need to be perfect, just faithful. He is my Abba Father, and He, too, is faithful:

“Experience has taught me that the Shepherd is far more willing to show His sheep the path than the sheep are to follow. He is endlessly merciful, patient, tender, and loving. If we, His stupid and wayward sheep, really want to be led, we will without fail be led. Of that I am sure.” ~Elisabeth Elliot

I wondered, then, if perhaps I could make a paradigm shift—as Miss Alice said, perhaps things not being clear-cut was my simply not being honest and authentic and simple before the Lord. So, tentatively, I stepped out into my day.

I wondered what to say to a friend. Love her, the Lord said.

Oh. So I did. And it was clear.

I wondered if I should tell a certain acquaintance about Christ. It’s not time, the Lord said.

Oh. So I didn’t. And it was clear.

I wondered how to explain a difficult spiritual concept to a friend. Show her beauty, the Lord said.

Oh. So I did. And it was clear.

Again and again, over and over, I found that for all of this time, my muddled confusion was my own inability accept the simplicity of my Savior. As the Beloved, I am now free to act or not act, to be perfect or not be perfect, and know my identity remains the same. This frees me from forcing myself to spout long sermons when none are needed and to perform forced acts when nothing should be done.

Once I reached that point of surrendered brokenness, I could accept the simplicity of Jesus’ directions. Before, their lack of detail had simply frustrated me to the point where I could not even see them as answers. I knew enough—in fact, not a great deal needs to be known; the Lord’s yoke is light. I opened to the realization that much of the carrying out of His simple directions lies on me—He may say, “love,” but then I have the excitement and adventure of choosing how to do so.

Before, I saw that as muddled confusion.

Now I see it as relationship—and joy—and freedom.