Morning. Stars still twinkle in the haze above. Leaves dance on the pavement. Red and gold and brown. Bare branches fling their spindly fingers into the deep blue autumn sky, heralding another soon-to-be change in seasons. Bright sunlight bursts out from behind the mountain, bathing the prairie grasses. I squint and breathe in suddenly, involuntarily. The Artist is showing off. He is saying, “Look. See Me. Feel My presence in this beauty.”
And I do.
Kate says: journey.
All of us, I think, are constantly struggling with who to be in a particular moment. What part of ourselves to express. Almost as if we have multiple personalities, but instead simply different versions of the same person, some more true than the others.
I am pulled in opposite directions. One arm stretches toward ambition. The other toward obscurity. One side full of fire and toughness. The other badgered by fear.
Desiring, in the words of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Alexander Hamilton, to “not [throw] away my shot.”
Yet also desiring to become small so that God may be great.
I do the things I’m “supposed” to do as a writer without formal representation. The Facebook page, filled with new content each day. The book proposals. Keeping the Twitterness fresh. The launch team. The blogging schedule.
But it doesn’t.
Because I am caught in the middle.
Worried over not putting myself out there enough (the ambition speaks). Wary over putting myself out there too much (the obscurity calls). Ready and able to write hard word. Scared of the rejection that such a voice must bring. What is my motivation? Glorying in self or glorying in Him?
I have a sense of being at a crossroads, but I don’t know why. I don’t know where either road leads. So I’m sitting in the middle. Close my eyes and breathe deeply, taking notice of air filling my lungs and my heartbeat slowing from frantic gallop to contented trot. How there can be the brush of peace in the struggle, I don’t know. I do know that I have been here before. I will be here again.
God shapes me. It is painful. It is never not painful. Perhaps others don’t struggle as I do. Don’t wrestle as deeply over every nuance and possible outcome. That’s okay. We are known intimately. Our Creator understands what must happen for us to become who we are meant to be.
Me? Like Jacob, I roll around with God. I want to know what He knows. See what He sees. Tears gather as I see what must die in me in order that I might live.
This, my journey. The crossroads and the dust and the scars. The beckoning of fame and popularity against the insistent Voice.
And I know what Paul meant,
I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.
But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
– Romans 7:16b-25 (MSG)