Life is hardly quite as clean as I want it to be. And I struggle sometimes. I’m acutely aware of the notion that “evil always takes advantage of ambiguity.” I have, like Eve, experienced the devastating outcomes of being deceived; choosing to disbelieve God in some way as if my own control would be more trustworthy. Merely trying to help.

Recently, through church and His Word and other means {praise God for His body}, God has been clarifying for me a lie I have believed, and a lingering root of self righteousness, and the extent and significance of something that has often been easy to overlook. And I mean these as 2 and half different things; not three iterations of the same . . .

To start with, I guess, my flesh. The part of me that *here’s what I learned* is not actually ever going to be sanctified. And must die. Must be crucified. As a recovering perfectionist with pharisaical tendencies, I was really just out here living as if – and eventually believing – that my flesh is somehow made out of different stuff than every body else’s . . . a cut above the rest . . . like my flesh means well and is just misunderstood. Ha. Lies all lies all lies. And along those lies {see what I did there}, God showed me that one of my most grievous iniquities is that if I could do life without Him, I would. I would – if I thought I could successfully achieve it – be my own god. Yikes. That makes me sound like satan.

I use the term iniquity because I heard someone explain it in the connotation of our will, which is striking to me. The concept of willfulness . . . agency and free will have been particularly captivating to me in the last few years. Willfulness and how yielding Jesus was of His own . . . completely so. And how God does not force Himself willfully. There is an extent to which He just is and everything else must bend and yield to His . . . God-ness. Like a wave that waters whatever is in its wake . . . His power and the exercising of wrath that is found on the unrepentant side of His rescue. But He really lets us choose if we will love Him; He really lets us choose if He will be our God. Even though He is the only real God to choose from. There is no other God.

I have so often said that my heart is inclined towards God and goodness and right-ness, and it’s true . . . by the grace of God. And only my regenerated one. My old heart wasn’t *actually* that way. And without that grace which I can hardly articulate the intricacies of, I would be stuck with the essence of God’s enemy . . . a heart resentful of its created position, striving to not need to be sustained.

So that’s one and a half of the things . . . that my flesh – like everyone else’s – needs to whole-entire die. It’s not the part of me that means well. It’s not the part of me that’s being sanctified. I have died and my life is hidden with Christ. It is Christ in me who is my hope of glory. Apart from Him I am and can do nothing. Apart from Him I have no life. But because of the great love with which He loved me, even when I was dead – like everybody else – in my trespasses, He made me alive together with Christ. Through grace I have been saved and raised up with Him and seated with Him in the heavenly places.

So how should I live then? Not dependent on my self for righteousness and sustaining.

It outworks messier than I want it to be, because it’s always a matter of heart. The some-such spiritual equivalent of the physically vital, unaesthetic organ that deals in breath and blood. And it has been so ‘hard on my flesh’, as one of my favorite bible teachers would say. It’s hard on my pride because I might make mistakes and be cosmically exposed as imperfect. As if perfection is a facade even worth trying to preserve after so many generations of human dysfunction.

All this to say, I’m playing at an open mic night and the songs that I am singing are bringing to mind tares and wheat. It feels sometimes like this softer material are the songs of ‘figure art’. And I want so badly to dress them up in disclaimers and humor and sing anything else instead. Happy Birthday or maybe The Alphabet. But it’s such a false frenzy. It feels like a desperate search for fig leaves. Anything to cover. Somewhere to hide.

But there is a beautiful glory of God reflected in lyrics that were written as I fell in love with men who didn’t mean as much to me as Jesus . . . and in God keeping me when I didn’t want to keep myself. There is a glorious celebration of abstinence that feels too modest to be named in me having chosen solitude and soul-riddles over sex. All by the grace of God and His transformative love that made me want to honor Him . . . the spiritual revival that only comes through that once-and-for-all Resurrection that gave me a new heart that is actually inclined to Him. A recreated heart that was given to me when I repented of my willfulness and sin and gave myself to the mercy of the Giver of Life.

All this to say, there is a place for honesty. For singing the truth to the glory of God, even if my old self would have judged me. Ha. My new heart desires to live above reproach. A life that is, in many ways, behaviorally indistinguishable from the one that had to die. But to live before and answer to God is to deal with the matters of the heart, not just behavior.

I was sitting with the parable Jesus told about tares and wheat. And how the workers in the story wanted purity and perfection. The workers in the story were pressed about the presence of the tares because how dare they!? and what if other people think … and there’s too much ambiguity and room for confusion. I suppose. Those are the objections my soul has. In my current understanding, it seems there must be some of the We Only See In Part at play here . . . because I would imagine one might take a look at someone’s behavior or the art that they make and decide that there is no way they are wheat. And they could be wrong.

It takes so much faith and such tremendous humility to grow up beside something you side-eye-ing-ly suspect to be a tare. And furthermore to see something in yourself you think needs pruning and leave it to the Son of Man to deal with. Let it be, lest you uproot the good stuff. Which, obviously there’s some kind of apparent difference, right? There’s a clarity in identifying the weeds. That’s where the incredulity comes from . But there’s evidently some danger as well . . . danger in *us* trying to dig up the roots of what grows so closely. The digging up part is not our assignment. We are not that skilled.

It seems as though God has so much faith in His own purifying love and ability to keep me inclined and obedient that He is not pressed about the mess it makes to masterpiece me under these conditions . . . “during these times”, ha. His faith is not in me to get it right all the time, to not make a mistake, to not be misunderstood, wrongly perceived, or even to not pass poor judgement on which lyric is the holiest one. His faith is in Himself to sustain me and keep me from stumbling. And He will.

. . . & &

edit: I ended up recording a video with the songs I picked out for this week, which I have classily embedded below, ha. Enjoy!


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