Saturday, October 21, 2006

Let me explain... no, that would take too long. Let me sum up.

Time to summarize my last month or so from every vantage point available to me. Some of this will be old, but it's my processing of everything for the e-mail I sent to friends and family from my church back in Colorado Springs, but edited for this presentation.

My arm almost never hurts anymore, which is a huge blessing. I'm finally starting to get caught back up on school things, and to actually feel confident about my grades being relatively good this semester. None of them are horrid at this point, but I am definitely going to have to push to get them up in a more comfortable range for maintaining scholarships. By God's grace, I am getting there, though it's definitely requiring a great deal of work. That's okay; if it were easy we wouldn't pay people to teach it to us!

This weekend is a huge blessing, in that I have very little homework I actually have to do - and thus I'm using it to get ahead in some areas, and to simply catch up on some rest, which is very much needed. My last few weekends have been extremely busy, and thus the weeks in between have as well. Last week, as most of you are aware, my parents came out and visited, which was fantastic. Our time was extremely blessed, and I was very encouraged by it. The Lord provided a great deal of clarity regarding many issues I've been facing regarding my future, and also helped me to see that it's okay to just sit and wait on His timing (I'm beginning to see this as a recurring theme in my life right now - not least because it was also the topic of this week's speaker at BSU). And there are many areas I simply have to wait and trust the Lord in right now.

For me, I'd appreciate your prayers for me in that area as I have to simply be steady in pursuing this degree - I'm feeling very burned out with physics in a lot of ways right now, and really enjoying other things a lot more (like writing on here, what with the opportunity to simply read and research and think about things I am fascinated by). I know God has a perfect way for me, and I'm simply having to trust Him and continue following Him in the midst of my own frustrations. At times it becomes very hard to wait on His timing, because I just want to jump in and go - never mind that His timing will be so much better than mine. I've learned that lesson all too well from the past. At least the Spirit is faithful to bring all of that to remembrance when I begin to struggle.

The weekend before that, we had a three-day weekend thanks to the OU-Texas game. Six of my friends and I thus took a three-day trip to Arkansas and drove around exploring the Ozarks. I was extremely blessed in the time, and it was very refreshing (though not terribly restful!). I have to say that the Ozarks are the only place I've seen that's as pretty as Colorado, and they're pretty in a very different way. The best way of articulating the difference that my friends and I could find was to note that the Rockies have a more masculine, rugged beauty about them, and the Ozarks have a much softer, more tender, feminine beauty about them. It was a wonderful, wonderful time, getting "lost" (we knew generally but not specifically where we were at several different points in the trip, and it was actually pretty fun), finding our way back, just enjoying the incredible splendor of God's creation. It's easy to see why so many people just fell in love with and stayed in the Ozarks back when the US was being settled: it's a positively gorgeous area. Words fail me.

The time was also good in a spiritual sense, as the Lord continued building on things He had begun working in my heart about a week earlier. I can honestly say that I have never been so challenged and so convicted on such a regular basis as I have over the last several months. And every time I think it can't possibly get more intense, it does - until I'm now expecting it, and slowly ( very slowly) coming to appreciate what God is doing in my life by pushing me so much. Nearly a month ago, I had a horrible week. It was frightening and humbling to realize just how much of my own flesh still remains in me, and it led to a greater degree of brokenness than I've ever known before. The Spirit has been faithful, beginning that night, and continually ever since, to remind me of just how utterly inadequate I am. All my strengths, talents, etc. are utterly useless to honor God, to advance His kingdom. I am nothing in and of myself.

This has been one of the hardest - but most encouraging - processes I have ever been through spiritually. We never want to admit our own weakness, and particularly we do not want to admit that we have nothing to offer God. He's finally been able to start teaching me what Paul meant about being the worst of sinners, what Isaiah meant when he wrote that all our righteousness is filthy rags before God. And more importantly, He's showing me just how little I still know of those things. There is so much farther I have to go in that, as in every area.

Just this past Thursday, the Spirit gave me even more understanding on that point, as He has been all the time - this time opening my eyes to just how self-centered my walk with Christ has been. I have such a horrible tendency to make everything about my spiritual walk about me, instead of about Him. And because of that, I am all too often largely impotent for the Kingdom. We cannot avail anything - we can have no impact on the lives of those around us - when we essentially worship ourselves by requiring that our study of the word be about how to make our own lives better, when we expect to get an emotional rush out of times of worship, when we make Christianity a religion about ourselves instead of a surrendering of ourselves in personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Again, it's so humbling - but so necessary, and so very good - to come to that place of greater brokenness. And finally I'm starting to really hunger for more brokenness.

The Lord is continuing to make opportunity to share with others: in the lives of the guys I'm discipling, in the lives of the guys coming to the Bible study I co-lead, in the lives of the non-Christians around me. I simply pray that the Lord will continue to open doors, and then to give me wisdom of the words to speak - of the WORD to speak, for the word truly is what convicts, not our own wisdom. I'm excited to see what the Holy Spirit does in these people's lives in the years ahead.

I think that sums up most everything going on with me at this point - if I left anything out, it's okay, because this is already a monster of a post (well... okay, to be fair, it's no longer than others I've posted, but it's still long). I love you all, and pray the Lord's blessing for all of you. And I'll see most of you in just four and a half weeks! Grace and peace be with you in everything.

- Chris

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