Rude Awakening

11:00pm. 12:00am. 12:30am. 3:00am. 4:40am. Those were all the times my son got up last night. And he was wide awake at 4:40. Uuf da.

There are so many wake up calls when you become a parent. And not just the ones in the middle of the night. I’m talking about the wake up calls of character. It turns out I’m not as patient, kind or gentle as I originally thought. I just never encountered anything that riled me up too badly.

As 5:00, then 5:30 then 6:00 rolled around with no signs of Emory slowing down, I decided to make a pot of coffee. I grabbed my old favorite mug – wide rimmed, rustic country style with a picture of corn on the side. It reminded me of all my early morning quiet times pre-children. Fond memories for sure, but they came with a bitter edge this morning.

You see, I used to think I was so spiritual. Up at 6 of my own accord to read the Bible and journal while I sipped coffee with a splash of cream – that was my picture of the ideal Christian life. But here is what I realized – it is easy to be spiritual and not holy.

“Spiritual” is a word thrown around with nauseating frequency these days. Worse, it is a non-word, empty of any significant meaning. People use the word to describe situations or experiences that give them the tingles, but don’t transform their lives. They are “spiritual” and carnal at the same time.

Spirituality is an individual pursuit. It is you worshipping in the context of yourself. It really isn’t anything short of idolatry.

Holiness, however, can only be worked out in community.

Holiness is being like God. It is reflecting His image as purely and consistently as we can and we only know if we are being successful if there is someone else to see it. The presence of another human being reveals our hearts far better than hours spent alone in private meditations.

I am not holy unless I am holy at my absolute worst. When everything is against me, when everything is rubbed raw, when I am squeezed to a pulp – what comes out? Trials don’t build character, they reveal it. I don’t get to explain away my feelings, words or actions by saying “I’m tired,” “I’m hungry,” “I’ve been around too many people,” “I have stress at work or at home.” I don’t get to do that because God doesn’t do it.

It humbles me to think of how God interacts with me. I throw tantrums and pity parties enough for six people, I can’t imagine how He deals with me so gently knowing that He deals with the same stuff in each of the 7 billion people currently on planet Earth. What humility. What grace. What patience.

And I am made in His image and likeness. I’m designed to reflect and incarnate His character. I have His Spirit and His Mind. I have a new heart that longs to please Him.

I also have a long way to go in this journey of holiness. I have recently become aware of a whole host of things that were previously hidden from me. It is more than a little discouraging, but I’d rather know what is there so I can deal with it than continue in dysfunction and unholiness and hurt the people around me.

So here is to being decidedly unspiritual and embracing the work of carrying my cross of obedience and holiness. Here is to working out holiness in the context of community and seeing people as a blessing. Here is to giving up my unBiblical ideas of the pseudo-Christian life and embracing what it means to be the Body. I know this won’t happen perfectly, but that is precisely the point. I don’t get better at being Jesus in the worst of times unless I get to practice.

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3 thoughts on “Rude Awakening”

  1. Hello Ben,
    Just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your Daily Bread post today. I am Mark Dau’s wife. Mark is your father’s cousin. We have known Jesus since 1978 (me) and 1980 (Mark). There isn’t much talk or preaching about holiness in or out of the Church anymore. There will be a real rude awakening one day (and it might be sooner than we think) when we stand before The Lord and give an account to God. His desire is for us to be holy just as He is holy. And it’s not really that hard. We just simply have to trust in Jesus and obey Him in everything in life. God bless you and make His face to shine upon you!

    1. Hi Cheryl, thanks for commenting and introducing yourself. I had just asked Dad about you and your relationship to us, so it is great to connect with you. Thanks for reading!

      I agree, God wants us to be holy just as He is. I think you are spot on when you say that the Church in America is in for a Rude Awakening when Jesus returns – I don’t think we have an accurate view of who He truly is.

      I love the fact that you and Mark are believers – it is good to have you in the family! Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.

      Ben

  2. I missed this blog post somehow, but when I look back on life so far, the one thing that changed my life for better was having a child (and then God blessed me with 2 more). I have told people that having children is what saved me from myself. Pre-children, I lived for only me and had many selfish plans and ideas, even having children was at the time all about me and what I wanted. God knew the perfect timing for me to become a mom and it is the one of the best things that ever happened to me. Children are stressful and can bring out the best and worst in us, but thankfully God is full of grace and gives us many 2nd chances to get it right. By the way, I had one of those children that didn’t like to sleep some nights and had tons of energy, she’s still that way to this day, it’s the way God made them 🙂

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