Suddenly, life as you know it ceases to exist. This split-second in time changes everything. These are the moments that divide life into “Before” and “After.” Dividing moments create our story; they make us who we are at our very deepest level. Some of these moments are so big and so life-altering that it seems we are unwillingly catapulted into a completely different world. We must become a different person as life has carved out this future for us whether we like it or not.
There have been many dividing moments in my own life, some of them creating such a shift that it feels like I have lived two, separate lives-one before the event and one after. Remember the feelings of excitement and awe when you woke up one morning married? Or the disbelief you felt when the baby that spent 9 months in your tummy was in your arms? Sometimes, I can hardly remember life before these events. But in other pockets of my life, I often miss the old me's, the ones that lived in the land of Before. I miss the me with a mom. I miss the me before I knew the brokenness of a marriage or the abandonment of a friend. I miss the purity in joy that comes with naivete and ease. I miss a lot of things about the world that that me lived in. Those moments really change us and the hardest part is that we cannot live as the new us in our old world no matter how hard we may try. We cannot pretend that life is the same when it has changed so greatly. And honestly, if we spend our time trying to make our way back to the good old days, we will miss the gift of change which is right over that big crack in the earth.
Other dividing moments may seem small in their stature but have just as great of an impact on who we are deep down inside. These seemingly smaller cracks are happening every day in our lives and can easily slip by unnoticed. Just this morning I experienced one of those moments in my own life as I stood by my child in church. As I began to engage with God in worship, feelings of guilt and shame were grabbing me by the hand and trying to pull me far, far away from God and church. You are a fake! You are a hypocrite! they whispered loudly. How can you stand there and worship God when your words of disappointment and frustration toward this child just 20 minutes ago dripped with venom? How can you desire intimacy with God when you ran from Him all weekend by using every numbing agent you could find? Put down your hands. Sit down. You are a terrible witness for this impressionable child who desperately needs the real Jesus. So I put my hands down by my side and hung my head in shame. But suddenly, a truth so old and yet so new, hit me as I imagined a great big crack splitting my heart right down the middle. A great divide. A truth I have heard with my ears my entire life but never before realized deep within my soul was suddenly clear. I come to church a complete mess. I am indeed sinful and I handle all kinds of life-things in an ungodly way. But I realized deep within that this is what Jesus is really for. I have been thinking all these 44 years that somehow I was supposed to show up already perfect for the show. I believed that I needed to have it somewhat together to seek the face of the Lord. What a serious relief to think that I can really come to Him in such a messy state. I can come to Him after shaming my son. I can come to Him after running from my husband. I can come to Him after hiding from threats of pain. I can come to Him after being dishonest, disobedient and selfish. In fact, that is when God wants me to come to Him. That is why He gave us the gift of Jesus so that we can come into His presence as the real messes that we are. That is the whole purpose of a Savior! Jesus cleans us out the minute we ask for forgiveness and makes a smooth path for us to the Father. We do not have to show up perfect. Whew!
God gives us these dividing moments every day in order that life can be different for us beginning that very moment. God loves change! He is not afraid of it. How will my life be different now that He revealed this truth to my heart? That is the real struggle isn't it? The struggle to keep walking forward and living in this new place rather than running back to the comfort of the land of the known. A counselor once told me, “If it feels wrong to you, then it is probably right.” He went on to explain that I was so used to doing things wrong that they have become comfortable and “right” feeling to me. I had become best friends with some not so healthy ways of living in the world. He wanted me to see that now, in my endeavor to change, even though something may feel wrong to me because of the ill ways I have handled life, it may indeed be the right way after all. Many times when we begin to live in our new ways of thinking it feels wrong and weird simply because it is different for us. But, as we keep remembering to live on the other side of the chasm, the greater the gap will grow in our hearts and the harder it will become to mindlessly slip back over the crack. Our feet will not betray us quite so often by running back to those known places of old. When we begin fully living in the new places, they will soon grow as comfortable and “right feeling” as the old places.
I wonder what God will tell you today? What moment today will give you the opportunity to live in a new world with a heart a little more in line with the heart of Jesus? Look for it today and remember it so you can share it with me. Because, chances are, I may be encouraged by the sheer fact that you are choosing to walk in a new place in faith. And when the voices of shame and condemnation come, and they will come, choose to keep listening to His voice and keep walking forward in what He is telling your heart. No race is ever won by turning around and choosing the comfortable.
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