Sunday, September 1, 2013

The American Dream, or the American Idol?

I have to say up front:  It is hard and stressful and, sometimes, downright impossible being destitute.

Destitute in an American sense, that is--where we can live well below the poverty line but still have a home and a car and everything that we truly need to survive. 

It's painful to write about our struggles; it's embarrassing to admit that we're struggling to even survive...But as miserable as it can be and as desperately as I hope this time to be over, God is teaching my heart some beautiful things through it, and I feel like I should share it...

Often, when we face difficult circumstances, we buckle down and try to hold on, to just "white-knuckle" it until we get through.  But that response is a form of self-dependence, and causes us to miss out on God-dependence.  Hard times--I'm starting to get it through my thick skull!--are like a personal invitation from God for us to come, sit, be still, and see His greatness.  To sit and watch in awe and wonder the power He wants to work in our lives.  If you've ever watched the Northern Lights dance across the night sky--so stunning, so amazing--I imagine it like that.  It's scary to let go--I know!  I'm your classic holder-on-er do-it-myself-er!

But even if we let go, He never lets go of us!

And it frees us to stand in awe of Him, to let Him work something more beautiful than we could have, and to well up our hearts with an overwhelming fountain of praise.

Our battle is not just against our own selves, however.  The enemy knows he is not as powerful as God, and so he tries to feed us lies about God. 
Is God really good?
Does God love us?
What have we done to deserve this?
God doesn't care about us...
The list is endless!

After 2 years of full-time job-hunting, in any field, across the globe, even being denied positions at fast food and factory and gas station companies, while many faithful Christians are praying for us...and the insecurity requiring frequent uprooting...we have fallen into discouragement about God's provision for us.  I wish we were stronger.  I guess we just got tired, and then confused, and then the lies started to sound too good to our sore hearts, and it got easier to entertain them.

For me, personally, one of the main lies I have entertained is that I have done something wrong or not been good enough, and this unending hardship is God's punishment for my spiritual failures, and it will continue until I can figure it out and get myself together.  It's so easy to believe sometimes!

But as our pastor stated today, "God is not a mafia boss!"  He doesn't come around checking to see if you've paid what you owed or behaved in the right manner, and beat you if you haven't!  He doesn't work like that.  The good news is, we KNOW that we've failed!  We fail every day of our lives, and there's no way we'll ever live up to God's standard.

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23

Yeah, that doesn't sound like good news at all.  But it is, because it means that our hope is not in our own goodness.  Our hope is in God's greatness!  The fundamental mistake is to begin with ourselves and not God--all of life, all of everything, begins and ends with God.  It's not about us at all.

We often think--and it's so easy to--that we build up a moral rapport with God, and He is then obliged to bless us.  The reverse of that is that He will punish us if we are less than perfect.  In reality, we are morally bankrupt, and only Jesus offers us a perfect record, if we will merely accept His grace!

So, back to that American dream...It's kind of what I've been chasing and worshiping in my heart.  It's what I dream of to keep myself going each day, and I think, "When my husband has a job, and we have a home, and we can afford to pay our bills and provide good things for our children--THEN, everything will be okay."  I have idolized money, comfort, worldly security.  I am looking to things to save us.

Another thing our pastor said today that really struck a chord with me is this: "People get discouraged because they're chasing their idols, and come to church to learn how to pray in order to get their idol...They leave rejuvenated, but through the week get discouraged again because it didn't work, after all, and come back the next week to get another 'dose'...But make Christ your treasure, and the stuff won't matter!" 

It's not about the stuff.  You can have the stuff or not have the stuff.  God loves us and wants to give us good things, but it's our hearts that matter, and making sure our priorities are right. 

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