The Leaves are Falling...and So is My False Religion

12:07 PMHeather

Yep.  I've been gone from here for awhile.  I'd love to say it was for some really great reason or that I was off doing something important and interesting.  But, the truth is, bloggy friends, I've just sorta been wallerin'.  Wallerin' in exhaustion and feeling overwhelmed.  And well, to sum it up as I looked out my kitchen window today--I feel as though I've been stripped bare.

Like the beautiful trees in my yard, the leaves are falling.  Leaving behind nothing but the brown branches where everything is laid bare.  No disguises.  No pretenses.  Nothing but vulnerability.  

I've said it here a time or two or twelve.  I'm in a spiritual season of deconstruction.  I know God is at work.  I mean, I may be thick headed but with the repetition of themes over the past year, it's a little hard to deny.  He's keeps thumping me in the head with messages about legalism, caring for the poor, stewarding my blessings, loving others, my self-righteousness, and my filthy rags.  Fun!  Yeah, not so much.  He's ripping out these lifelong held beliefs of mine about what He's all about.  

And it feels strange to say, but the simplicity of what He seems to want to drive home to me feels oh-so-complex.  It's profound to come to a place of realization about how I've overcomplicated it all.  He's shining the light of truth to the cracks in the walls of my faith.  Cracks that have grown over the years while I ignored their existence.  But, now, I can't help but see that they are merely symptoms of a bigger issue.

I have foundation problems.  If you live in Texas, you know how big, bad and ugly foundation problems are.  They are costly to fix.  It's like a kiss of death or misfortune when someone starts talking about the extend of such an issue.  And how important it is.  So, here I am.  Realizing that while I've known God and followed Him for most of my life, I've somehow mixed man's tradition with Biblical truths and it's caused me to build a bit of a sand castle rather than building on the rock.  

How did this happen?  How did I get it so wrong?  I'm afraid that I'm living with the tension of beating myself up for my misconceptions and being freed by the truths God wants to lay out for me now.  From this point forward.  The harsh reality is that nothing God is revealing to me is new or startling.  What's startling is how I've somehow allowed false religion and beliefs that are just a shade from the truth to take root in my heart.  

And here we are.  In a season of fall.  Where God is saying, "Hey, Heather.  You know how you struggle with performance love and earning approval?  I'm ripping that leaf from your tree.  It's false."  Or how about, "You know how you struggle with unanswered prayers?  It's because you are so focused on what you think you deserve at this point.  Your own self-righteousness.  But, it's nothing but filthy rags."  I know at the heart of it all, He is merely wooing me to a deeper, more intimate love relationship with him where my insecurities built on my own definition of religion are traded for the freeing truth of His grace.  He wants to rip away my pointless striving of proving myself and earning my own forgiveness and worth.  Pluck it from the tree and let it fall away.  He wants to strip bare all the leaves of pretension and pretending and entitlement.  He wants to remove all idols of success and achievement and man's approval.  He wants to take away my ignorance about what really matters.  Because it's not about me.  Not at all. It's about reaching into the lives of others.  And it's not about legalism or the law or rule following.  It's about grace.  

At the end of the day, what is left, when all the leaves have fallen, is this truth.  He is the vine.  And I am the branch.  Clinging for dear life to the gift of love and grace that paid it all for me.  I can embrace the foundational truth of my own inability to earn righteousness, recognize that my very best is nothing but filthy rags, and see that I have been chained to a religion made of man's tradition and my own misconceptions.  Seeing it for what it is, with all the leaves removed, I can see the freeing truth.  I can build on the true foundation.

He offers me nothing but love and grace.  That's what it all boils down to.  Being convinced of His love for me.  And being so freed by the righteousness that He alone can offer that His love pours over out of me--spilling to all those around me.  Opening my eyes to the needs of others.  Pulling me to the joy of meeting those needs and showing His love because He has so lavished it on me.  Plain and simple.  

So here I am.  Laid bare.  Overwhelmed.  Sorta wallerin' in my own pride and shame about how I've misconstrued so much.  And that's right where the enemy would like to keep me.  Struggling to find a fig leaf, like Adam and Eve, to cover my sins and my failings.  But, I know God is calling.  He has been whispering the same theme to me, over and over.  And the volume is being turned up as the themes repeat, over and over, through books and sermons and Bible studies and His word. 

At the root of it all, at the end of the day, I can chunk all the false religion.  I can let all my misplaced striving and ceasing and misconceptions be demolished.  I can let them become dust.  And, there, as I see myself for who I am, I can be freed.  Because I am nothing but dust.  I have nothing to offer.  Nothing I can prove.  No one to impress.  In the hands of the God of the Universe, I can be made beautiful.  By His love and grace that paid it all, covers it all, releases me from it all.  As we sang yesterday at church, "He makes beautiful things.  He makes beautiful things out of us.  He makes beautiful things.  He makes beautiful things out of dust.  He makes things new, He is making me new."

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