Thursday, May 5, 2011

Immersed in 4113 and 4311

I like under-water scenes in movies. I like how people's bodies and faces look soft and doughy- like the characters turned into a Gumby-version of themselves. And I like how their hair floats up and around their faces, like Medusa's snakes. Unfortunately, lots of underwater scenes have to do with sex, which is sad because then I have to stop watching. I wish people would just have underwater scenes for the sake of beauty, without having to make beauty sexy.

I think the reason I like these scenes is because of the way the characters change when they're immersed in water. Their heavy, cumbersome bodies become weightless in the water, and their movements are more slow and deliberate. When immersed in water, every part of everyone becomes just a little bit more beautiful.

When you finish the BSF year, they give you this sheet of evaluative questions on your last regular class night. They aren't questions that you discuss with the other people in your group. They're questions that you're supposed to go home and discuss with God. I did that this morning, and it made me realize that when I started this BSF year, I was dry as a bone, scared to get in the pool. But now- well,I guess that I am immersed, in Scripture that is.

BSF is good for that. If you want to get your head completely under the surface of the Bible- go to BSF. You don't have to be a scholar or anything. One of the ladies in my group this year had never studied the Bible before in her life and she made it all the way through the Isaiah study and her answers were always awesome! I kept telling her how proud of her I was because I felt like she jumped into one of the deepest parts of the Bible. But you know what I have realized? That whether you jump into the deep or the shallow, once you get immersed in Scripture- no matter where you are- everything changes. And things start becoming weightless and beautiful.

I hope God is okay with the fact that I'm probably going to stand by the pool in the sunshine unless I'm in BSF. I think He knows that I need my teaching leader to push me in the pool or I'm not going to get all the way in. I know that BSF is not for everybody, but if you're like me and you'd rather stand in the sun, warm and dry and risking nothing, then maybe you should seriously consider getting pushed and dunked BSF style. In my life, it's been the most consistent way to immerse myself in Scripture- because I didn't really have a choice. If you're in BSF, you're going to get washed in the Word, whether you're ready for it or not.

And that was a good thing especially this year, because back in September when we were just learning about who Isaiah was and how he got sawed in half for being one of God's prophets, I'll be honest- I wasn't feeling it. There was a LOT going on then. I was frustrated and disappointed. I was out of work and floundering in my writing. I was consumed by what other people thought about me. And I was in a cycle of sinful anger that was coming from a place of deep hurt. But, you know, I didn't want to get into the Bible. Why we are like that I can only attribute to the very rebellion that Adam & Eve passed on. We never want what we need. So that's why God gave me Holly- because she's my TL- and she pushed me into the book of Isaiah, so that I could be free and beautiful again.

There was a lot in Isaiah, but I'm going to share two main truths that God revealed to me this year, once I finally sank back into the Scripture and let the Truth envelop my heavy heart. Here they are:

Isaiah 41:13
For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you

I've written a blog about this verse before and called it "The Story of my Hands" because God used this verse to literally unclench my angry fists. But it was more than that. This year, I was really angry about some very unfair things that happened to me and people that I love dearly. And anger is not a bad thing, but it is when you start screaming and yelling and complaining because of your anger. And it is when you start forgetting that God loves you because other people make you feel worthless. I was doing both of those things- yelling and complaining and forgetting that God loves me. But when 41:13 washed over me, I sank into it. My hands stretched out into that Scripture and I waited for His comfort- for His hand to take mine and to guide me somewhere peaceful and safe.

He absolutely did, and I transformed. But not just my hands. My heart. Let me tell you- God was almost forceful with His reminders that He loves me- not just a little- a whole lot, and that there's nothing that someone can say or do that would ever make Him change His mind. And that came as such a huge relief, a transforming relief. I am still loved. I am still loved. I am still loved. I still have to methodically swim in that truth or life becomes frightening and heavy once again.

The other was Isaiah 43:11
I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no Savior.

There's this song on the radio that has a line that says, "Savior, please, keep saving me." And that lyric mimics what I feel about this verse. Because it's easy to think that once we've been "saved" from our sin and are going to Heaven, that we don't need a Savior anymore. But it's prideful to think that we aren't going to need to be saved again. It's not true that we're going to be able to maintain everything- our circumstances, our emotions, or our reputations. Jesus is the only Savior. Not just from sin. From everything that goes wrong in our lives.

This year, I lost my identity- while I was writing a book about identity- ironic? I don't think so. I think it was purposeful. I believed what other people said about me- and some of that was true stuff that I didn't want to own and some of it was not truth at all. But what I wanted for the longest time was for people to save my identity, to save my reputation. Have you ever been falsely accused? Then you understand. You want so badly for people to understand the truth about you. You want someone, anyone to reclaim your reputation, to save it from the lies. I looked, but there was no one that could save it. And then, Holly or God or both of them together pushed me into this truth- He is the only Savior.

And here's the final lesson on that- on identity, on my reputation- which still is, and probably always will be tarnished on this Earth. My real identity is safe already. And I didn't get that until almost the very last page of this great book.

Isaiah 66:22
"As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me," declares the Lord, "so will your name and descendants endure."

He's talking to Israel, but as my friend Toi pointed out, we are grafted into Israel. So I think my name is secure there too. When I was writing about Jesus as the Gate earlier this year, I pondered this issue of security. And I was confounded at why Someone who says that He will provide protection lets hurt and even destruction collide with our lives. But what I learned was that the Gate for the sheep is in Heaven. True, He's here in that His Spirit is in His people. But the Gate is at the right hand of God, and He's waiting on His flock to join Him there. So it's a promise for eternal protection, amen? Stuff can get to us here. But there, everything is safe. Secure. And no one is getting in to harm what He is saving just for us. Ever. At least, that's what I think He's taught me this year.

"Meredith, I am the Gate that keeps your identity safe. This will be your reputation throughout eternity. Who you really are, all that I remember about you and all that the people in the Kingdom will know about you- which excludes the sin you've confessed and includes the work that you've done for me- is here. It's here with me. No one on Earth can touch it. No one can speak into it but Me. And your name will endure. I'll see to that."

He is the only Savior. He is currently saving what is true about me. And all of the lies that have been told about me- the ones that I've believed and the ones that others have believed- they can go to hell. I'll be a long way from there when this is all said and done.

The thing about immersion is that is not only makes you beautiful. It makes you strong. Water provides much more resistance than air. Ever tried running in water? Then you know what I mean. Strength is something I did not expect to find in Isaiah. I'm a toughish nut as it is. And I didn't think my Abba would be working on that in me. I thought that "gentle and quiet" was the lesson of my lifetime. But I believe that He wanted me a little stronger. Stronger in His truth. Not able to be knocked off it so easily when people criticize or don't understand. He is still who He is. He loves me. He is my Helper. And He is, for all eternity, the only Savior. And that was a beautiful place to fall into this year, and everything is more beautiful now that I'm swimming in truth.

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