Today I was adding new music to my iPod for my commute to work and I started exploring the songs of JJ Heller. I'd heard a few, but I wanted to hear more.
One song in particular struck me immediately. It is entitled, "Who You Are." It describes the lives of individuals who are going through trying times; life isn't looking the way they thought it would, and they are in pain. In their sorrow and confusion, they admit that they don't know what God is doing. I can still hear the chorus ringing in my ears, "I don't know, I don't know what You're doing. But I know who You are."
We can get through a lot when we know who we are walking through it with. When we are sure. 100% certain. No doubts. We don't have to know everything in every situation, but we do have to know one thing for sure. Who is it that walks with me?
The most heart-wrenching time in any relationship comes when one offends the other to the point where the offendee begins to not only take offense at the wrong doing, but to go so far as to question whether or not he really knew this friend in the first place. This sense of betrayal is a common theme in movies. We've all heard lines like, "I never even knew you." or "Who are you, anyway?" It feeds into our innate fear of trust. Our fear of giving ourselves completely to another person. There is always the risk that the wool is being pulled over your eyes, that what you wanted to believe about your friend, or lover, or parent, or mentor isn't actually true. That's when the walls crumble down around you and the way out seems bleak.
BUT, what if you knew? What if you never had to wonder? What if you were absolutely certain that the character & capacity of the one you put your trust in was ROCK SOLID? How many more confusing times could you make your way through together? How many perceived offenses could you see past? How much deeper could the water get without you panicking? How much higher would the mountains be that you could climb with him beside you? It is almost impossible to fathom, if you have been repeatedly burned in your earthly relationships... that this kind of trust could exist.
When JJ Heller sings, "Who You Are," this is what she is singing about. She is reminding herself and all of us that we can know God. His character is described vividly and consistently in the Bible and we can count on him to be who He says He is. Every. Single. Time.
Circumstances will change.
God will not.
*This is cheating, because it is really better when you open your own Bible and pray your very own prayers and let God show Himself to you PERSONALLY, but - if you need a jump-start, a crash course in the character of God - this is a good place to start.
Not one moment that we spend reading the Bible, praying, listening to godly men and women teach and share, acting on what we learn, not one single moment is wasted. Over time, each of these acts becomes a building block in our relationship with Jesus Christ. His character IS rock solid. But in our fallen human state, having encountered unpredictable and untrustworthy people time and time again, we don't come to put our full weight on Him over night. It comes in time. It is built by experience. Give Him a chance. He will prove to be exactly who He says He is, and that knowledge can make the sun rise after even the darkest of nights.
I am not tempted by course talk, generally not one to gossip (or when I do, I am almost immediately convicted), seldom utter hateful words, and am not given to slander. On any given day, I choose my words carefully. When I read scripture about taming the tongue, I often see those verses as good reminders, but not something I particularly need to dwell on. I'm a careful, cautious girl... rarely fly off the handle... those verses are for other people, right?
Recently, God has shown me that these verses are indeed for me. Here are some of the things I'm learning, and they all center around allowing the Holy Spirit to be the prompter for when to speak and when not to:
1. Just because you have an answer, doesn't mean you need to give it. This brings to mind Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books. She was always the first to have her hand up and always had the right answer, much to her classmates chagrin. I am no longer a formal student, but I can certainly find myself spouting off "the right answer," in other contexts without thinking first or paying attention to those around me. Sometimes the process of arriving at the "right answer" is just as important as the answer itself. Everyone having a voice and a chance to process things at their own pace, these things have value.
James 1:26 "If you claim to be religious but don't control your tongue, you are fooling yourself and your religion is worthless." NLT
2. Just because you are thinking about something and it is weighing heavily on your mind doesn't meant that now is the time to share it. I am a thinker. I can get very wrapped up in my own head and at times get to a point where I feel like I have to express everything I am thinking. Why? To have my thoughts validated or nullified by others? Because I've grown impressed with my own thinking and need to be affirmed for my genius? Because surely if an idea is consuming my thoughts it must be important to others as well? There is a time and a place for every word to be uttered. When I share a thought with someone just because I feel a need to get it out of my brain and hear myself say it out loud, without first considering who my audience is and whether or not it is really time to share that thought... I get in trouble. I either share with the wrong person, or share at the wrong time and end up having to eat my words.
Proverbs 21:23 "He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles." NASB
3. If there are not thoughts/words that are just between you and God, how close of a relationship do you really have with Him? One of the things that is so precious about my relationship with my husband is that there are words, thoughts and ideas that we have shared with each other that we haven't shared with anyone else on the planet. This makes our relationship special and develops trust and intimacy. Think of your best friend when you were a child and how you shared things with her/him that you didn't tell anyone else, and how that strengthened your bond. Some things need to remain between us and God - not to be secretive, but to build relationship, trust and intimacy with Him. I love the movie, Miracle on 34th Street (the newer version in particular). There is a scene where little Susan is struggling with whether or not to believe in Santa Claus and her mother suggests to her that she ask Mr. Kringle for something that she would never ask her mother for and then if she gets it on Christmas morning, she will know that he really is Santa Claus. If we never trust anything just to God (telling him and asking him about things we don't share with others), we won't have the deep, awe-inspiring pleasure of hearing/seeing him answer us in a personal way that proves who He is and how He feels about us. We'll settle for lesser manifestations, getting to know a God who loves the world but missing out on the God who loves us individually.
Matthew 6:6 - "But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you." NLT
Carla Ritz. Proof positive that God uses cracked pots!