Monday, December 21, 2015

consumed

See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:15)


It is so easy at times to get completely consumed with the wilderness we find ourselves in the midst of, that we are unable to see the God who is making a way for us in the midst of it, much less the new thing he is trying to do both in and through us as a result.  I guess that's because we have a tendency to get so consumed with where we are in our own lives and journeys, so caught up in our own smaller stories, if you will, that we cannot see the larger story of God and where he is leading us and what he is doing in our lives and in our world. 

Being in the wilderness is a necessary part of the process.  The saints called it purgation.  It is the part of the journey where we empty ourselves--or God empties us--of whatever we might be full of other than God.  It is the part of the journey where we make room within us to receive whatever new thing God might want to do in us.  For if we are too full--of guilt, or shame, or fear, or anxiety, or insecurity, or even ambition--then there is no room for God to work.  Purgation makes space for illumination (the second part of the ancient dance), which then brings us to the possibility of union, the thing God desires most, both for us and from us. 

The problem is that if we end up in the wilderness for a substantial amount of time, we begin to believe that that's all there is.  We forget that there is more to the story.  We forget that this season is making a way to something, or somewhere, good and beautiful.  We forget that purgation is simply one part of a much larger dance.  In fact, we can become so consumed with the wilderness we find ourselves in the midst of that we really can't see anything else.

Therefore, it is essential to remind ourselves of, and engage in, the larger story.  When we focus on the larger story, of God and his work in our lives and our world, then it gives us perspective and hope.  Therefore, we must not get caught up--or consumed, or stuck--in the smaller story, but continually push ourselves to look beyond it.  Because God is always about a larger story, and all of our smaller stories only make sense in light of his story.

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