Aware (My Rebellious Heart)
Upon awaking this morning this sight greets my eyes. My cat lazily lying on the kitchen counter.
New home, new space, same old rebellion. (And it’s not just Gus. I just didn’t happen to get a picture of Finn sitting on my mom’s kitchen table happily munching on her flower arrangement.)
Now my cat is smart. He opens doors and drawers and he knows just what to do to get a certain response from me. There remains not an ounce of doubt in my mind that he knows the rules. He avoids eye contact knowing that my stern voice is about to be directed toward his languid pose and he stares, cocking one ear waiting for the command that he remove himself to the floor. (Which I am equally certain he will ignore, requiring me to physically remove him).
Then as he eyeballs me and as my gaze meets his I try not to smirk, because while frustrated with his willfulness I still love that ball of fur and I know that even as he breaks my rules he doesn’t really hurt anything. I always swipe the counters with a Clorox wipe before preparing food anyway. Then in that moment of love and frustration it occurred to me that I too have a rebellious heart. And my smirk is gone, replaced with a sigh.
I start wondering about the ways I lazily flaunt my heart’s rebellion. For the truth stands that while Gus’ counter claiming behavior can be rectified with a simple Clorox wipe, my willfulness is much more costly. My rebellion must be washed in blood.
“The Christian God doesn’t turn away from sinners in disgust but moves toward us, bringing us his redemptive presence.” *
Since I arrived in Florida a couple of weeks ago I’ve been attempting to adjust to all the newness: A new place, a new space, a new community of people around me, a new schedule and new goals for this season. I find myself feeling a little lost in the midst of it all and what I need most to settle my soul are habits, routines and things that ground me and help me dwell in the presence of the love of God.
In trying to bring the practice of my chosen spiritual disciplines into a new situation I find myself struggling to assimilate routine practices into an unfamiliar structure. But my old rebellious habits, they seem to slide into place like a well-worn and comfortable shoe. Oh, how I need mercy!
“What a different relationship begins to develop when you realize that God is head-over-heels in love with you…And he loves you deeply, recklessly and extravagantly – just as you are. God knows you are a sinner, but your sins do not surprise him. Nor do they reduce in the slightest his love for you.” *
One of the practices I am renewing is that of Examen: A simple conversation with the Trinity at the end of the day asking, “Where today was I closest to You – most in communion with Your presence, most aware of Your Spirit, most captivated by Your love?” and “At what moment was I farthest from You? When was I walking in flesh, unaware or unresponsive to Your loving presence, leading and direction?”
These questions teach me much about my rebellious heart, as well as revealing my hunger to dwell in His presence, yielded to His loving will. When I am asking God for this gift of awareness I often find that these questions don’t wait until nightfall, but they dodge my steps throughout my day.
Like when I awake and find my cat lazily lying on the kitchen counter.
“The movement of God’s Spirit is very gentle, very soft – and hidden. It does not seek attention. But that movement is also very persistent, strong and deep. It changes our hearts radically.” +
I believe nothing is more dangerous to the darkness than a believer who is wide awake and aware of their own sin and their deep need to cling to the love of Jesus. When we are broken we can release the power of the Spirit and relate to those around us as imitators of the Trinity.˚
And nothing I think is more fruitless in the Kingdom than when a child of God is unaware: of their sin, of their need, of their God and His surpassing love and longing to dwell in the hearts of men.
“Rather than drive us to ever-increasing efforts to get it right ourselves, God wants our sin to make us aware of our need of him.” *
“In spite of the messages of Western culture, personal fulfillment lies in connection, not autonomy. Spirituality is the discovery of the fundamental connection that exists between us and God – a connection that then properly aligns us to others, the world and our deepest self.” *
While I’ll have to wait for heaven to fully escape my rebellious heart, I pray that today I live wide awake and aware. It remains my prayer for you as well. May we ever be aware of the source of our life. May we dwell in the Vine. ˚
Quotes and References:
* Surrender to Love, David Benner
+ Life of the Beloved, Henry Nouwen
˚ 2 Corinthians 4:7-10, John 15:1-17