Abstraction

January 1, 2015
The turning of the page is a curiously familiar sound. It can bring everything from a catch in your breath to a sigh. There is an eagerness for the next word, whether it be a desire for more or a desire to move on. Maybe it’s time to turn a page. A gentle grasp on the corner of my life, turned over to the tenderized willingness of my heart and mind. What is my desire? More, or movement?

This past year, God led me into a wilderness where He showed me how tired I was. Instead of refreshing me, He walked me around the edges of my landscape and caused me to feel every place that I had neglected. A weariness like never before, accompanied by an inability to shake it off, was like a second skin. This layering of fatigue and neglect inhabited my thoughts as well as my body. My resistance to stillness had become an ego driven habit that resulted in constant exhausted busyness.

During this time my prayer life became fragmented and convoluted. But still, I prayed. I was all over the place with petitions and praise. I was demanding at times and reverence took a back seat to self-loathing. I longed for God to be God and for me to know what it was in my heart that resisted Him and resisted the renewing of my mind.

It was while reading the book, “Prayer” by Tim Keller that the Lord revealed a startling thought process imbedded deep in my mind and heart—abstraction (pg. 21).

At some point I had moved Jesus from my heart to the edges of my mind. God had become a very good, very wise, very competent, and even very truthful concept. I was no longer worshipping God but He had become my source for answers, He had become the abstraction. The Oxford dictionary defines it like this:

1 the quality of dealing with ideas rather than events: something that exists only as an idea: 2 freedom from representational qualities in art: 3 a state of preoccupation: 4 the process of considering something dependently of its associations, attributes, or concrete accompaniments: 5 the process of removing something, especially water from a river or other source.

When I read this definition, I did not respond in overwhelming grief, but instead there was a hint of relief. In that moment, I felt like a time of intimacy with God had just opened up. Maybe this would be a time of revealing, an unveiling of the fog that has distorted my faith. Maybe God would reveal more of who He is and who I am and why there was this relentless pursuit on both sides.

February 4, 2015
This word “abstraction” has indwelled my thinking and uncovered my desire for movement. Movement first into the understanding of where I had placed God. He is the not the means to my understanding of Himself. He is not the sum of his character or the playbill of his story. He is not limited to my fickle times of deep devotion but He is present outside of my preoccupation with Him. He does not simply represent Himself to me so that I may gain wisdom and insight into the things of the past or present. He is not the answer to the questions surrounding my sorrow, my broken character, and my half-hearted attempts at becoming better. Nor is He the way to my accomplishments, my confidence, my sanctification, or my repentance.

This misalignment of truth was dark and beckoned often. Simply put, I loved, believed in, and was in relationship with Jesus on an idealistic level. He was every good thought, every good event, every good deed, and every good gift. I gave Him full credit for being sovereign over past wrongs and bad events, crediting Him with the freedom to do as He sees fit and laying on Him the implications of providence. And because of grace, my allotted grace, I was able for years to reside at times in this darkness, a darkness I both feared and welcomed.

February 28, 2015
As I read back over this post, I’m afraid this may be just a little too much openness. Too much exposure to what I normally keep boxed up and strategically stored in places that are exhausting to get to and so give me the option to weigh the effort against reward. For years, the reward seemed negotiable. I had faith, had assurance, had some joy and had enough resources to deal with the lack thereof. That was until that word—abstraction.

I must now trust that this is a turning point; that on this page I will begin to see the error of my understanding, my idolatry of truth, and the breadth of my wandering. That this revelation of depravity is not meant for my destruction but that my repentance is meant for His delight.
“Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.” Psalm 51:6.

March 7, 2015
So today marks nine weeks of working on this post. Of praying through it, putting it away, pulling it back out. Swinging back and forth between it being a simple journal entry of my thoughts to a public confession. Both places have been paved in grace so the decision is mine—to post or not post.

It’s a bit scattered and doesn’t flow well. There is a mix of bland, cliche, and tired phrasing. It leaves some thoughts hanging and is a little boring to read. It begs for less confession and a full circle God’s Word ending that leaves you with a smile or a sweet sigh because isn’t that why I decided to start a blog anyway.  Maybe next time.

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.” Psalm 86:11-12


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