As I intentionally seek God whole-heartedly, He is beginning to highlight, bit by bit, that which does not align with Him. As I peel back the sin, oh how clearly I can begin to see!  Sin is just a fancy word for the sneaky (and sometimes not so sneaky) junk of life that crowds out the wholesome, beautiful, pure goodness of generosity and grace.(*1)

I’ll enter a paragraph of uncovering my need for confession.  It matters not what I needed to confess, but what happened when I saw and (began to) let go of the junk that I was clenching. As I discovered junk that I quietly prized I realized I could not reconcile this junk with a life led by generosity and grace.   But, as I uncover and release my junk, (namely for me pride, performance and perfectionism) I unearth the hidden desires of my heart.  It’s like getting rid of a corrupt program on your computer that is bogging the whole system down.  As I sit patiently with my deep-rooted desires and give time for the Holy Spirit to speak I also unveil unhealthy emotions that have been festering and crowding out the goodness of my desires. This allows me to pointedly acknowledge and name things like anger, disappointment, and grief (*2); by naming them I am empowered to release them from my life.  This process of vulnerably seeking out the junk so I can purge it uncovers painful emotions and allows them to become beautiful. 

This cuts away the rotten, the useless… It is a pruning and a weeding of my soul so the beautiful garden within can be unveiled and enjoyed in all its glory.  (Oh plants still get unruly and weeds still pop up – even the same ones again!; but there is progress, a slow but persistent forward progress).

Is this perhaps the more and better life Jesus promises? (*3)

Within the church we call beliefs we hold firm to, truths (our lives ought to be the proofs of those truths). Call it whatever you want but this is the geniusness of Jesus: his unveiling of the best way to live which grants joy regardless of life’s circumstances.  I mean I suppose as creator of life, he understands how to best reveal its beauty? Perhaps.

Allow my life to serve as a proof of Jesus’s truth.  Read this next sentence slowly.  This is my experience and my story: It is brilliant to be able to find joy within the sorrow. It is spectacular. It is life changing, life-giving.

I chose to jump all in to this faith because I came to the end of myself.  Its a crazy faith, but as I’m “all in” and discovering more around each corner, it’s beginning to make sense in an up side down way. It answers the questions I need answered.  Oh yes, I’ll be honest it also cracks open new questions and perhaps more of them than the ones it answers.

But the radiance of Jesus, of following Jesus, grows more spectacular as I press in. Its not about rules, it simply boils down to believing that Jesus is who he says he is.  And believing that Jesus is the son of God, and that he asserted life saving power when he overcame death.  Ok so while it’s simple i can understand if you find it crazy.  I did too when I finally stopped to evaluate.  Yes I was out of options, my fragile humanity was cracking, but hear me Jesus is AMAZING!  (*4)

As a young adult I remember thinking, I can believe this faith because even if it’s not true it makes for a better life here on earth.   As a 35 year old that didn’t cut it.  I was in a take it all, or leave it all scenario.  I chose take it all.

And here I blossom.

Without Jesus I’d be hopeless. I’d be weighed down with unshakeable dread, unshakeable paralysis. The pride and self-sufficiency I’ve been clinging to would further cloud life. Human ways just cannot reconcile the unfairness of my situation, the awfulness of it all.  The torture of dragging my family through this battle to stay afloat.

Jesus kept my head above the waves, now he invites me to walk on those waves as I confess that I am so so small- but I have a God who loves to take my smallness and fill it with His hugeness.

And I uncover the hugeness of love, comfort, hope, compassion, care (oh he cares), a partner to grieve with me (Jesus weeps with me).  The hugeness of the Warrior who’s on my side, who commands angel armies to protect me.  The hugeness of His hands which tenderly hold my heart and soul.  The hugeness of celebration because Jesus knows how to party!!!

This is what happens when you peel back the junk that the Bible calls sin and you discard it as trash.  Underneath you find pure treasure.

To close, my prayer:

Oh God, help me unearth the treasures of my soul!  Help me children to see that you,

you living within them, is the treasure to seek in the most epic treasure hunt of all, the hunt to know more of Jesus.  And that knowing you is more precious than gold.  And the map is in their hands: the Bible.  And the compass is within as the Holy Spirit when they choose to follow you.

My children if you want an epic adventure: follow Jesus and never look back.  Oh it’s gonna be good.  It’s always good, for God is good.  Choose to believe that God is good, all the time He is good (even when it makes no sense, even when your heart breaks, even when you do not understand, even when it smells so rotten and looks hopeless.  Even then, oh especially then, Jesus will show you his goodness as you look to him. Oh look to him when your world feels like it’s falling apart. Oh Look to him and find him, my children.  This is my prayer, for it’s gonna be too much, oh the wrenching of my heart, look to Jesus when it is too much.)
1)  In the Message version of Matt 5:48 Peterson translates the verse “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” As “You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” I like his view of godly perfection being graciousness and generousity.  As perfection opposes sin, may generousity and graciousness oppose the junk of my life, crowding it out bit by bit.  As I see Jesus more clearly, he illuminates the junk I’ve been blind to.  Bit by bit I discard layers of my sin.  My goal, though I shall certainly not realize it this side of heaven, is to perfectly radiate God’s goodness and love.  This is my aim.
2) To be clear, I am not saying that disappointment, anger, and grief are by themselves unhealthy.  I am saying that leaving them unearthed, not talked about and dealt with is unhealthy.
3) John 10:10
4) I can hear the critics voices saying: religion is a crutch, I don’t need a crutch!  I hear you.  Yes, I struggle with valuing my self-sufficiency.  I want to be strong enough.  But humans are human.  They are at their core fallible and breakable.  Our bodies are fragile even in their strength; in weakness they are brittle.  Our Minds are equally frail: dementia and mental illness are rampant.  But I love the John Keats quote “Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul?”  Contemplate death, truly contemplate your own end and you are faced with the existential questions of life: Why am I here, What gives me right and wrong (morality), what gives me meaning and purpose, what is my ultimate destiny when I die.  To answer these we turn to religion.  We all turn to religion.  Your religion does not have to involve a “God”; Merrian defines religion as : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.  So whether we believe in God or not, we all have a religion.  I believe we all need religion to cope with our finiteness.