Wednesday, August 15, 2012

In Progress

For the last week or so I have been particularly down on myself. I feel like I have been under the bright light and amplified mirror that my aesthetician uses to make sure she has successfully waxed every little dark unruly hair in my face. Except, instead of my face (which I accepted long ago was imperfect and growing moreso with each passing year) it is my heart.

It's really not that anything dramatic has happened. It is simply the dreaded Summer drift. Without the anchor of a steady schedule and discipline, I have spent all Summer being a somewhat lazy glutton with no real connection to small group community, Bible study or regular church attendance. I haven't worked out since May. I haven't been involved in direct ministry in months. I haven't had a 'girls lunch' or in-depth coffee (uninterrupted by children). I am out of sync.

As a result of relying more on my flesh than spiritual discipline, things have gotten a little unruly in my heart and in my thought life. (Because I care what people think I will insert here that it's nothing 'major' by the world's standards, just not my favorite version of me.) With back to school approaching and my list making in full swing, I have realized there is a lot of me to work on--and it is overwhelming. I don't mind having a project in progress, but to feel like so much of me is in need of renovation...well, it can make me want to quit before I even start.

To combat some of these feelings, I started reading Lysa TerKeurst's newest book, Unglued, last night. I exhaled a huge sigh of Yes, I am not alone as I read the first 40 pages. Lysa's encouragement to be Ok with 'imperfect progress--slow steps of progress wrapped in grace' was balm to my weary soul.

A full 24 hours later I am still thinking about her reference to the patient, painstaking chiseling that was required during the creation of Michelangelo's sculpture David. As she described viewing the sculpture first hand, she wrote:

I turned and looked down the corridor at the David, the statue fully chiseled by a master artist. And as I walked toward it I whispered, "Oh God, chisel me. I don't want to be locked in my hard places forever. I want to be set free. I want to be all that You have in mind for me to be."

In that moment I recognized a truth I have needed to see for a long, long time. It is beautiful when the Master chisels. God doesn't allow the unglued moments of our lives to happen so we'll label ourselves and stay stuck. He allows the unglued moments to make us aware of the chiseling that needs to be done. So instead of condemning myself with statements like, 'I am such a mess,' I could say, 'Let God chisel. Let Him work on my hard places so I can leave the dark places of being stuck and come into the light of who he created me to be.'
-Lysa TerKeurst, Unglued

It is hard for me to feel confident and secure when I am being chiseled...until I think about my children. At 8 years old, so much of their life is being coached, trained, taught, tested. From table manners to people skills, adults at church, home and school are 'working on them' constantly. I remind them frequently that God has entrusted them to me to train up into the grown up He has in mind for them to be. It is imperfect progress and nobody bats an eye because it is the point of childhood. No one expects them to have it all down. We accept that children are learning and growing. We marvel at it and find it charming.

But isn't sanctification, by definition, the extension of this process into our adult lives? At what age do we suddenly expect perfection? I have no desire to glorify sin or to 'accept' that I am just wired to be a sarcastic, selfish, impatient know-it-all. Jesus died and rose again to free me from the prison of those things. But I do want to live a life of authenticity that gives God the glory for the parts of me that reflect Him and recognizes there's still a chunk that is in need of chiseling.

I don't want to be overwhelmed by my need--I want to be floored by His Grace and provision. So don't mind the dust around's just a byproduct of the Creator's chiseling.

Bring on the Fall! I can't wait to get plugged back into fellowship & my fanny back into ministry so I can spend more time thinking about loving other people as Jesus would instead of obsessing about myself. :-)

1 comment:

Keri said...

This is such a beautifully-written reminder of an important truth! I've been feeling the chisel on me this summer as well, but for me, it's BECAUSE I'm in a Bible study. Some friends and I have been studying the Fruit of the Spirit, and...oh my! The Lord has been giving me ample opportunity to cultivate the Spirit's Fruit and to apply what we've been learning. I've been fighting the temptation to beat myself up when I see how far I have to go, but I'll try to remember that I'm as much a work-in-progress as my children are.