What I'm Learning

Boundary Lines in Pleasant Places

 

This morning, as I was listening to this, I was challenged to really believe that right now, God’s care for me is PERFECT – that the things that I feel may be lacking are His intentional withholding for my good, and the things that I feel may be oversights are there for purpose to produce what He wants in my life.

I have a hard time with this lie – the original lie – that God is withholding good from me. Eve fell prey, and so do I, almost every single day. I hear the term ‘withhold’ with a negative connotation. I see lack as bad, always bad.

 

(When Natalie was itty bitty, I had the privilege of going through the study, The Great Lie, with a mentor and another close friend – such a timely theme for that season. Our plan was to discuss this small, 32 page booklet while we waited for our ‘real’ study to come in the mail. Well, about 4 months later, we were still picking apart the intense truths in this little booklet. Funny how I often diminish the importance of something small by having my eyes on ‘what’s next’.)

But getting back to the point – this original lie that God is withholding good from us, from me.

Even in this, there are so many misconceptions. One, that the thing that God is withholding is a good thing, and two, that even if it is a good thing, that it would be good for me, now, in this season.

I understand that my heart is deceptive and does not often desire good things for me. I’m pretty familiar with that. So these days, the first part of this misconception doesn’t trip me up as much.
(A couple obvious examples: It would not be good for me to stay in bed all day long. Some days – oh man, that is what I want. But good for me, nope. Also, My kids want to eat candy all.day.long. Pretty obvious that it wouldn’t be a wise choice.)

But the second misconception I mentioned is what I still struggle with – the appropriate gift at the appropriate time – “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.” (Psalm 145:15)

letting-go-open-hands

I view something as good – and see that God deems this thing as good – and when it is not given, I feel left out. I feel like He maybe missed something, forgot about me, doesn’t care how I feel, or that maybe I didn’t do what was needed to ‘earn’ said gift (enter lies of perfectionism, guilt and shame).

It’s hard to keep perspective, and even understand that so often I will only have a glimpse of God’s perspective on the situation.

I understand that it would not have been good to have given my once 6-month-old a nice, juicy hamburger. The hamburger in and of itself is great, but not for someone that doesn’t have teeth and the system to process it. It’s not the right time for it.

I also understand that my daughter would LOVE to stay up later at night and not take a nap in the middle of the day. One day, she will have the ability to enjoy the gift of more time and more independence, but right now, her little body can’t handle the lack of sleep and extra expended energy. (I have several recent public meltdowns as my evidence).
So until she can enjoy the gift of that time and independence, we’re going to continue to keep the usual sleep schedule and withhold the extension for a while.

I can get this as a parent – withholding even good things from my kids because right now, it wouldn’t be good for them.

So, even as the serpent originally mingled some truth with his lie – that God was withholding from Eve (truth), but that what God was choosing to withhold from Eve would be good for her (lie), I get tripped up with the subtle differences. I see God’s withholding in my life as His withholding good for me now. I do not see His boundaries as His love for me.

And in God’s timeliness and faithfulness, this comes up at church.

boundaries
“Our misunderstanding of the goodness of God distorts our view of His boundaries.” – Jeremy Gardner

(Oh man – I could go on for days in the challenge of codependents and their struggle with understanding boundaries, but I will refrain.)

And then if that wasn’t enough truth to chew on for the rest of the week, or year, the Holy Spirit continued to speak.

“If _______ was taken from you (or might I personally add “not given to you at all”), would you run to God or from God?”

Ouch. But even though it hurt to hear it- to sit down and really think about how I respond to God’s withholding or His taking away – I am so thankful that God so faithfully and persistently pursuing my heart on this matter. The conviction that I so often want to avoid (maybe you can relate?) is an indicator of His love for me, His pursuit of my heart.

Do you believe that? Do you believe that being uncomfortable in His Presence is a good thing?
Because it means that we’re in His Presence – that He has called us to Himself – and that He is not willing for us to continue to gasp for breath and for life anymore under the weight of our sin, but that He is doing something about it.

My misconception of God’s goodness is at the very heart of my struggle.  But in moments of clarity, it is so glaringly obvious just how good and gracious He is. And a great reminder that I have to remain in Him – stay in His Word, His lamp unto my feet, so that I can be constantly reminded of these truths.

Because by myself, I forget. I lose sight.

And I’m back where I started. Hurt and confused and a maybe even a little bitter because I’m not getting what I want and God is holding out on me.

Oh man – calling it what it is hurts, but I’d rather step into confession than live in denial.

Even though I can picture my two kids playing out this very scenario on any given day (and y’all, they are 2 & 4 yrs old), and as much as I would love to be able to distance my maturity level from them, in so many ways I still act like a little kid.

My tantrums may be a little bit more sophisticated  (as Rachael Carmen put it so well at a recent convention I went to), but ultimately I am still God’s child, still in very much need of His parenting, His direction and discipline, and His judgment determining what I do and do not need on any given day.

Because at the heart of this lie is an attempt for us to get our eyes off God and onto ourselves, to magnify us in all our needs and wants and desires, and to make our lives, our little kingdoms, the chief end of our pursuit.  But that isn’t what I was created for, and it’s not what you were created for.

We have a Creator God as our Father, who loves us immensely, and has already done what was needed for us through His Son’s sacrifice on the cross. The boundary lines have already fallen for me in pleasant places, marked by the Cross to forever stake my place with Christ, and I will have a delightful inheritance with Him in heaven. I have been given all I need in Christ. Anything else here is just more grace. Anything else here is just His goodness poured out on a grateful broken sinner who even has to ask for eyes to recognize His gifts as good.

He gives His priceless gifts to a child who can’t appreciate them – not waiting until I can receive them well – and then walks with me so that I better understand what I have received.

That is grace.

Lord, I wish, oh how I wish, that I could believe this truly, from the depths of my soul. That I could trust that in everything, You are moving on my behalf – for my good and for the glory of Your Name and the expansion of Your kingdom. Please give me perspective, those Kingdom eyes that see You and Your ways and Your economy for what it truly is. Please continue to shine Your light on the ways that my vision is distorted by reason and culture and my lack of understanding.
And until my vision becomes actual sight, I pray that I would be able to step out, in the Holy Spirit’s power, in imperfect trust and imperfect faith, knowing that You are the Author and Perfector, and my job is just to respond and step. Thank You for Your faithfulness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

(As the Lord would have it, as I was wrapping up this post today, I was reminded of the very reasons that I named this place A Beautiful Inheritance and how this fight to hold onto the truth that God is good and for me is at the heart of my journey, and I believe yours, too.  Because if we can really get this truth into our hearts, then we can stop our attempts to search for our own good in our self-sufficient ways and are freed up to do some pretty amazing things for God’s Kingdom, trusting that He is taking care of us while we give our lives for His cause and His people.

He has placed our boundary lines in pleasant places, and we have a delightful inheritance in Him. It is Truth. If it doesn’t feel that way, press into Him. If you feel unloved and unacceptable, press in all the more. Press in on the days that you feel are shot, that you’ve messed up too much, that you just need to go to bed and start over again tomorrow. Press in and find Him even there, in your worst failures. Because He walks through it all with us, and so that means there is value in it all, good in all of it. Because He is there. And He is Good.)

“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” – Jeremiah 29:13

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