Sunday, April 17, 2011

Thoughts on Holy Week, modesty, and music

I apologize for how long this is. Please bear with me. I have a lot I need to say.

Things have been crazy. I am not used to God speaking to me as much as He has these past several weeks. When He called me back to Him - back to my first love - in December, I was in love. For the first time in my life I felt close, sweet fellowship. I didn't have the words for it at the time, but I believe this is what John Piper would call "Christian Hedonism." I loved it, I loved God. All was well in my little world.

Then Dad died and I entered a dark time. My faith got me through the first couple of weeks, but shortly after I returned from Seattle, I hit the "anger" stage of grief, and targeted God. Thankfully, He is big enough to take it.

Even though I was angry, I didn't sense that He was angry at me. Like a storyteller who knows the ending, He didn't return anger for anger. I never knew that you could both hate and love someone at the same time. It's possible, because now I have been there. I tried to sit in judgment of God and put Him in the dock. What pride! What arrogance! And yet He continued to love me and treat me gently.

I don't know how I would have gotten through this had He not drawn me so close right before. That was a saving grace in this situation.

I asked questions, questions I thought had no answers and were wrong to ask. I am now reevaluating that. Perhaps these questions were given to me by God because He wanted to give me answers. And He has! Even when I stopped talking to Him for a while, He continued to speak to me, and made it clear that He wanted me to speak to Him. Who am I that You want me to talk to You, God?

And so I finally bowed the knee once again and said, "I don't understand everything I want to, but I will follow." I also asked Him about all the pain in the world and the pain we cause Him. Those thoughts are summed up in my note, "Glory". Please read that first if you haven't.

That brings me up to last week, and the focus of this note. Last week I finally felt myself coming out of this dark tunnel I have been in since Dad died. When it first happened I said, "I'll be okay, but I'm not okay now." Well, I'm okay now. Dad's death rocked my faith to its very foundations, but He has brought me through, and the overwhelming grief is subsiding.

As we head into Holy Week, I am still mulling over the content in the "Glory" note. In church today we sang "All glory, laud, and honor," and I lost count of the number of times "glory" was used during the service. I'm beginning to understand that it is truly all about His glory. Nothing else matters, even if I have a hard time accepting that. He does all things for His glory.

I find welling up within me a desire for God like I haven't felt in years. For the first time in a long time, God has my full attention, and for the first time in a long time, I want to listen. Last week, He began talking to me about other issues, and I have also come to understand that He is done talking about hell. He has given me all the answers He's going to, and is ready to move on to other things.

Last week I found myself listening to a sermon on modesty. God convicted me - strongly. I had NO IDEA that I was doing half the stuff I was. I found myself having to repent for failing to follow God's commands on this.

Then, just a couple days later, I got a somewhat inappropriate comment on one of my photos on Flickr. It was a full body shot of me wearing my half marathon shirt and leggings. Clearly, the leggings are too revealing and God was telling me not to wear them anymore, at least on their own.

I didn't have any money, but was thinking I could get something when I got my tax refund or something. Yesterday, I broke from wearing leggings and a shirt to church, and wore a dress (I only had one that still fit after my weight gain). None of my jeans fit anymore. My wardrobe options were extremely limited. My money was eaten up in tax prep. I'm in the hole and digging deeper.

So I have to give a shoutout to Jane for giving me $60 yesterday to help buy new clothes. THANK YOU! Brad added an additional $5. I knew this was a sign that God wanted me to do this NOW, not at some point down the road when I have the money.

And so today after Palm Sunday services, Brad and I hit WalMart (useless except for a tight pair of bicycle shorts that I have to wear beneath dresses and skirts to keep my thighs from chaffing). For the first time, I looked at clothes with an eye to pleasing Him, not myself, and found myself passing up a pair of jeans that fit me perfectly. We couldn't find jeans that didn't show my curves (though I would still like to get a pair for hiking).

Then we went over to Old Navy. Again, difficult to find anything. We finally settled on an XL (am I that fat?!?) white dress that I can wear leggings under. As we walked in I observed a Muslim woman wearing jeans under her dress - very modest. I saw it as an object lesson from God to choose my clothes wisely.

Then over to Dress Barn. Pricey, but they had a couple nice skirts - one full length, one knee length, both very colorful. That used up all $65 and I ended up paying for one skirt out of my own money.

I'm not sure how I am going to like this. Will I ever be able to wear jeans again? I don't know right now. What will I wear to the gym? Again, I don't know. I can only take solace that as I embark on this, my only concern is to please Him. Like when He convicted me of headcovering, I thought I would hate it since I am not a huge fan of hats. But I find the lace and cloth coverings are hardly noticeable, and I have found I don't really mind it.

We will see where this goes. I only want Him to lead me. I really want to follow.

And that brings me to my last point, something that has been niggling at my mind for a while. I heard a Piper sermon a while back where he challenged people to pray before and after everything they did. How would that change things? He specifically mentioned music, and I know I have some music on my computer that is not God-honoring. At some point I need to make some time to go through it and delete the "bad" songs. God, give me discerntment as I do this. Help me to keep only You in mind and give me strength to get rid of what You want me to. The music is backed up on my flash drives, but that's something to deal with later.

So that's where I am. God is done talking about hell, but I am absolutely thrilled that He is continuing to speak to me. Who am I that the Lord of the universe would say anything to me? Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.

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