Friday, September 01, 2006

O What Vanity!

What vanity is painting! It wins applause merely by representing things, while the originals are not even admired. - Blaise Pascal

I love making this stuff. I’ve always been one to surround myself with pictures of loved ones to feel loved and close. So I’m always taking pictures of my kids and the things that I consider beautiful. I believe that art isolates the beauty of God so you can focus on it. There are some things God has made that really make me stop in my tracks and praise Him, so I tend to take pictures of that stuff. Of course, depending on the day depends on what I find beauty in. It’s constantly shifting to whatever God is showing me or teaching me.

When I was first saved, God imparted to me an enormous amount of wisdom, understanding, and discernment. Along with this, He was so available that I constantly drew the strength and patience needed to practically and easily apply these truths to my life. I didn’t do anything to earn these gifts. It’s not like I was hunched over my Bible several hours a day studying and meditating on His Word.

After a while, I started getting pats on the back for this understanding. “How can someone so young be so wise?” I’d hear. And instead of acknowledging that I didn’t earn it, that God just handed it to me, I would fake humility and say something like “After living without Him all my life, He and His ways just make sense to me now.” As if my knowledge and ease in applying His Will was a natural progression from despair. But if that were the case, all Christians would be able to discern and apply God’s will automatically, since we have all suffered in life.

So here’s what happened. I got cocky. I got comfortable and stopped seeking Him. I got judgmental when others who’d followed Christ longer than I couldn’t grasp the ideas that seemed so elementary to me. I got self-righteous because I could stubbornly obey God, even though it was painfully obvious that I was suffocating in resentment and bitterness.

I couldn’t understand why God wouldn’t reveal Himself to others like He had with me. I would judge them as if they didn’t deserve His revelations. I would question what they were doing, or not doing, to keep God from sharing this “easy street” with them.

Until one day when I couldn’t reach God. It is quite recently that I am figuring this out (proof of how slow I really am without God’s grace).

My 16 month old son hasn’t slept through the night since birth. At least it feels like it. My husband is bipolar and becomes manic if his sleep schedule is altered, so I cannot ask him to wake up and take care of our son during the night. This lack of the necessity of sleep has led me to the brink. I have been begging God nightly for relief which has yet to come. All that previous strength and patience, discernment and wisdom has outrun its course. And since I didn’t earn it to begin with, I don’t quite know how to go about getting any more.

I’m starting to think that maybe God is pulling away from me in order to prove that my limited understanding isn’t enough. He wants to not only be the source of my strength but to BE my daily strength in an ongoing growing relationship.

The initial wisdom lasted nearly 5 years, and in that time I have failed to properly nurture my relationship with God. I was blinded by my success and wrongly believed that I was enjoying a strong, close relationship with Him. But it was counterfeit. And I am ashamed.


After writing this, I asked a few people to pray about it with me. One morning soon after, I awoke from a full night's rest. My son had slept all night, and we were both pleasantly refreshed. Sometime in the morning, I felt like God was telling me to put on a pot of coffee, grab my blank notebook I had just bought and a pen, and to sit a read for a while. After about 2 hours, I had written 28 pages of what seemed to be knowledge sent from above. I had been reading Blaise Pascal's Pensees when I was just overwhelmed with topics to write about. How's that for answered prayer!?

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