Tuesday, September 13, 2011

fruit

Me, Sudan 2008
Overweight.  Loud.  Opinionated.  Moody.  Prone to low-self esteem (or should I say low self-image?)

Flaw after flaw, I look at myself and come up wanting.  That's not the half of it.  I drain people, even you, as you read this.  

Sound familiar??  How many times do we pick ourselves apart and believe what the devil says about us??  Or what the world says about us??  Or what we say about ourselves...  

My inner voices can be the undoing of me.  

Last night, in a flood of tears, I looked back at the year we've had...full of tragedy and unpredictable sadness.  Filled with betrayal, false friendships exposed, and a vision of what I thought we were building here crashing to the ground.  This year has tempted me to become monkish, hermit-ing in a cave with all of my books and broken pots to scrape my wounds.   It is all my fault: I am here in Africa, and my family (who needs me) is on another continent.  I am an incapable leader: selfish, assigning tasks and barking out orders.

I've written my whole story,  my thoughts: it's my form of processing.  I don't regret moving here to Africa to follow the whole calling of God, why do I feel so depleted??  Last night I recounted to our dear friends we came to for prayer, the whole thing.  The terrible, awful feeling that I am a failure.  No fruit, no energy, lost vision.

They asked questions: You feel that you have failed? Is it your efforts you're counting on?  Do you believe the Gospel?

The Gospel.  

Good News.  That's what it means, literally translated.  Guess what?   There's good news.  What is it??  Jesus (our Messiah) is here.  He has come to save us.   He knows my name, He knows my kids, He knows my flaws.  He is bigger than all of these combined.  He has power to save me, my kids, my family.  He is powerful, loving, coming to claim what is rightfully His, and He will not stop.  He will not stop being the Messiah, saving us, His ongoing work is both unstoppable and finished.   

I remember Him.   The righteous and freshly revealed Jesus- alive and unveiled to me.  I opened the door as an addict, laying on the floor of my rock bottom, and He lovingly overpowered me.  He scooped me up in His arms and whacked through the marsh weeds of judgement with His sword of righteousness, speaking with His mighty voice "She is mine!"  He was the one who spoke truth in my ear and gave me grace to believe.  He flooded me with undeserved love and acceptance after years of believing I wasn't good enough.  Then he sat me into a life that was full of Him- a savior worthy of everything: especially my heart.

It's as if someone finds me in an alley, half-drunken bottle of cheap wine in my hand, slouched and bleary-eyed, and says, "Janet, is that you?" and I remember who I am.  

I remember I live in a mansion, rich with wealth and love and open to anyone.  I remember I am a princess, what the hell am I doing, half drunk with imitation wine in an alley??  

I looked up last night and saw Him.  He was there.  My savior... He'd never left, and was the backbone of who I was, am and will ever be.

"Your fruit," they said "Is you." The thought sends me reeling, and accuses every false belief I have about myself.  

"It is a lie that you have no fruit," my friends say.  The truth was like a wrecking ball- aimed not at me, but at the lie, and I watched it come down.  Relieved, and sad that my hands had built it.  It was my mind that believed it.  

I am forced to believe God.  I am forced because faith jumps to different level when you are so far removed from situations and you are not wealthy.  Faith takes on new levels because your desire to change things is exposed as a weak and life-sucking sin.  God becomes my only hope, my only avenue to walk down when things get hard.  

I choose to believe God only because He is the One with the power to change all things.  I choose to believe because, in all of my life, I have never, ever, ever lost anything by believing Him to come through.  He does. 

After all, He scooped down and saved me and made me who I am.  What could be harder than that?

That is my fruit.  

Me, approx 1965