Go Low7:11 AM
For the longest time, I remember standing outside that wall, staring it up and down and around to figure out how to get past it. I could hear the singing of those on the other side, their feet pounding the ground as they moved closer and closer to the finish line -- and I wanted what they had. Badly. My heart thrilled whenever it thought of the possibilities on the other side of that wall. It was everything I desired. But it was always like an outsider looking in: I wanted it, but I didn't have it, and I didn't know how to have it. I had no part in that business beyond the wall.
That business? The Obsession. Knowing God. Getting past the ups and downs and finding rest in Jesus. Walking by faith, walking by the Spirit. Growing. All the stuff comprising the true Christian life that heroes of the faith embraced. All the stuff I didn't have.
It's strange how quietly we keep this wall to ourselves -- how it's rarely preached on or talked about post-service. It's strange how books like Crazy Love, Radical and One Thousand Gifts -- books expounding the nothing-held-back response to a nothing-held-back God -- hit the bestseller list and Christianity remains starkly unchanged. For the longest time, I thought maybe that kind of faith was only for the truly heroic, the disciplined, the passionate, that I was doomed to sit by that wall forever.
But I found the way through. It's so counterintuitive, so radically different from the Christianity I preached and lived, and so true. If you want to get through, you've got to go low.
Take, for example, a spiritual high. The walk seems easy then: we feel like we're (at last) moving in the right direction. The excitement that finally, finally this might be the change that will change everything keeps the spirit pumping and the heart clear. Then something happens -- we never know why -- and we run smack up against that wall again. We haven't moved forward. Just in circles. That wall is made up of many things -- doubt, confusion, sin, insecurity, pain, ignorance. It's the point where we were so close to making it over and it didn't happen. So we give up.
Don't give up, but do give up. Go low.
I could track my spiritual highs and lows: a good week would follow a bad week and vice versa. It was an endless cycle, always me messing up again, losing enthusiasm again or getting hurt again. I'm trying to find words to describe that feeling, but if you know it, you know it -- you're up against a wall. You're frustrated. You're confused. You're not doing something right. You wait for the next spiritual high and ride it out as long as possible until the next crash. Repeat ad nauseam.
Stop. Stop trying. Go low.
The key to the Christian walk is getting started when you're giving up. It's not tacking on extra Bible reading, praying special prayers, doing lots of chores to assuage guilt. It's repentance, humility and daily crucifixion.
We get this idea in our heads that amazing Christians are perfect Christians, so we box up our sins and veil our true selves and play charades with the people at church to see who can be more religiously fake. We know everything about God but we don't know God. We know everything about convictions but we don't know piety. We tell others how to walk to the Christian walk but we don't actually walk it ourselves. Sometimes, our heart matches our religious exterior: we really do enjoy reading our Bibles, praying and pressing on through temptations. Most days? No.
We grown up in Christian homes especially get this wrong. We of all people know the extent of our depravity, compounded with guilt because we went to church since the diaper stage and ought to know better by now. We of all people ought to repent and humble ourselves and let the grace and mercy of our loving God wash us and forgive us and heal us. Instead we stop short: we mess up and we hide from God, like Adam, like Eve. We run from His cleansing lest He see that we really aren't as Christ-like and sanctified as we'd like to be.
The other day I felt nasty inside. Messed up. I'd run into another wall, my passion dropped, I had been distracted by people and had lost my Jesus focus. I didn't know how to shake it. I tried a pious prayer or two but felt too fake to stand before God as sinful as I was. I tried ignoring it. Then I just booked it away from God to try to clean up my act before approaching the throne of grace. The Spirit convicted me: You're doing it again -- hiding. Stop trying to climb the wall. Go low.
I fell broken before the Lord, pouring out how I had failed to keep my focus, how I missed His presence, how I needed His forgiveness and help to get past this wall. Because now I know -- God doesn't want perfection. He wants humility. He doesn't want religious exteriors stiffened by guilt. He wants a stripped naked heart. He doesn't want Christians full of their own righteousness. He wants to fill us with His righteousness.
Decrease. Give up. Go low. There's an entire road ahead.