Fulfilled in Jesus

Our pilgrimage with our Beloved in Japan -- Yoko & Ramone on the journey with Jesus!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Perfection: Accepting My Brokenness

"What Have I Done?"

This picture originally came quickly and almost automatically without thinking some months ago when I had to draw a painting that itself was inside a picture called "Perfection". Recently while I was painting a new picture with another picture-inside-a-picture, I wondered if I would again use the image of the hands & cross as I had in "Perfection". God said no, but that I should do the hands & cross picture itself as well.

Tonight I had to wonder: Lord, why did I get *this* picture inside the original picture called "Perfection"?


The latter picture was a message of Your perfection coming amidst our acceptance (and *Your* acceptance) of our brokenness. The guy in that picture (me) was trying to paint *this* picture ("What Have I Done?") when You called him to see his brokenness and Your life pouring through it.

Here is the connection between "What Have I Done?" and "Perfection":

In my "best" moments, I see what I have done to You with my sins: I've crucified You. And I see what You have done for me: You died for my sins and took them away. And I want to stay here in this knowledge forever, Lord. I'm painting it in the picture because I don't want to leave. I don't want to mess up anymore. I don't want to be broken. I want to always remember what I did to You and what You've done for me.

And while that is good and even if I could remember it all the time, I would still have brokenness. *I* can't fix my brokenness by remembering the right things all the time. I'm far too broken and imperfect to do that. As I try to immortalize this good knowledge and good feeling (knowing what I did and what You did for me) by painting it, You interrupt me with Your life.

You call me to not worry about trying to remember & feel it perfectly all the time, but rather to entrust even that to You, too. Because part of me wants to remember these things "all the time" so that I won't sin or mess up anymore. I'm afraid of cracking apart even further, of completely falling apart if I don't remember what my sin has done and if I don't remember the grace You've given.

You're splashing water on my face to wake me up to something, to wake me up to a power and reality beyond my ability to paint, remember or even fathom or recognize. It's Your power of life which is beyond me. It's Your power of life that is not afraid of my brokenness. I'm so terribly afraid of making mistakes, but You aren't afraid of my mistakes! I'm naturally afraid of falling apart because of my "cracks". But You're not afraid of me falling apart. I'm naturally afraid that if I mess up big enough, I'll fall outside of Your love. But You're not afraid of that. You're not afraid of my mistakes, my brokenness, my inability to remember, or my ups-and-downs in thoughts or emotions. You have a power, a living water, a LIFE that flows even through my cracks, no that flows *especially* through my cracks!

"My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness."

I think we've all heard those words so many times that they've taken on a pious, religious sound to them and so we nod our heads and say "amen" but have little real experiential understanding of them. We quote the words "in church" when everyone is trying to look like they've got it all together, like Christ has succeeded in completely reforming them so they're healed of all their cracks. Etc. We've used them like this so far out of context (real pain & brokenness) that when we eventually *do* have pain & brokenness, if someone should speak these words to us it would most often sound callous, unsympathetic and heartless. We "religio-fied" them. We try to look perfect instead of admitting pain, sin and brokenness. So we don't realize the pain and brokenness Paul felt as he wrote them (and as he cried out to God about his weaknesses).

Because the idea of accepting our brokenness is foreign to us, the actual *power* of God's grace is very foreign to us. We run away from our brokenness. We try to fortify ourselves against it. In the "Perfection" picture, it shows how I (and so many of us) try to stay perfectly in "the right thoughts & feelings" so that we don't fall apart. Unconsciously we're still trying to hold ourselves together.

Help us, help *me* trust You, Lord, that You won't let me be utterly cast down or fall apart. You've got me. You're the One who put the Tree in the Garden, who was not afraid of Adam & Eve making the wrong choice. And You're not afraid of my bad choices, either. Help me get over that fear by resting in You and Your love. You died on the cross. You took away my sins, even my future mistakes. Wake me up with the water of Your power splashing on my face; surprise me by flowing through my brokenness. Help me not run from it. In Jesus' name, flow through my cracks. Amen.


Friday, August 06, 2010

Nothing I Can Do

A friend wrote a short comment online about the Hiroshima bombing, how vengeance is God's and He does not forget. I wanted to say something but I just couldn't. What he said was right and true, but I just couldn't get past the pain. Of course I'm frustrated and angry because I know what happened and see my own people (who did it or supported it) continue to not care by trying to justify it and do anything but look the horror in the face. But deeper than all of that there is a feeling of helplessness. Helpless to be able to do anything for the people who suffered. That was the pain that kept me from being able to comment about what my friend wrote today.

That cry has has been there inside me for many, many years, but I didn't begin to understand until today. I wanted to paint suddenly. I wanted to portray something, just to honor them. I want to do something for them. But there's nothing I can do. And that is the most painful cry for me. But I didn't know how to portray that. I prayed and God described this picture to me. He told me that this is what is inside my heart: I want to help them, to give them even just a cup of cold water. But I can't. It doesn't solve anything, and the cry is still there in my heart. I still long to give them a cup of water, even just to ease their suffering, to let them know someone cares, to cry with them, to let them know even just a little love before they die. This cry isn't going to go away while I'm alive.

Come soon, Lord.


See also: "Sacrificed Cities" (at Weeping Jeremiahs)