From Weary to Warrior

11:48 AMHeather

I've got a confession to make.  When I read the blog entitled Jen Hatmaker Ruined My Marriage, I could totally relate.  Because, like the author's wife, I am a fangirl of Jen.  I, too, am amused to the point of actually laughing out loud at times, and have also called my husband to join in her hilarity.  I love her passion and boldness and her no holds barred love for Jesus. I admire her courage to allow her heart to be broken for what breaks his.  

And, yes, like that blogger's wife, the Hatmakers' recent show on HGTV, My Big Family Renovation, was a happy place for me.  Curled up on the love seat with a cup of coffee in my favorite mug and watching the insane process of absolute demo and rebuilding.  

I must admit, Jen's style isn't quite my own, but oh, that I could so confidently swing a sledgehammer at a wall and find humor in petrified dead rats in my attic.  And the vision of Jen and Brandon -- and I'm sure their design team -- to see the potential in that historic farmhouse and make it their very own.  Bravely looking past its current condition to the point of what it could become, with just a tiny bit (several months) of work.  Ripping out walls, adding dormers, rearranging the layout.  All to make it the home of their dreams.

And once again, as I watched a show merely motivated for my own entertainment, I saw God's lessons for my life.  

Demo.  Reno.  Ripping out.  Tearing down.  Rebuilding.

Here I am.  Being wooed by my Savior to learn to sit at his feet.  Ever staying in his presence.  Valuing the gain of intimacy with him more than the work in the kitchen.  As my heart's cry is ever more loudly proclaiming--let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee!  Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.  Prone to leave the God I love.

Yet, learning not to leave.  Not to flee.  Not to allow distractions. But to make the hard choice and to be disciplined and to keep training myself.

Grabbing the sledgehammer with both hands and letting the walls fall.

This all brings me back to the very name of my blog.  Clinging to the vine.  Earlier this week, I blogged about the beggar at the Gate Beautiful who clung to the disciples when they healed his crippled legs.  And Mary, our beautiful picture of one who sat at Jesus' feet.  Throwing herself down and clinging to his dusty feet, surely wetting them with her tears as she mourned her brother's death.  

Cling means to adhere closely, stick to, hold tight, cleave, remain close or attached.  It's the picture of the term abide or remain that we see in John 15 mentioned 11 times.  Remain in Me.  Remain in the vine.  Remain in my word.  Remain in my love.  If you haven't read John 15 in a while, I encourage you to camp out there for a bit.  Because it shows us the correlation between remaining or clinging to Jesus and being able to live a fruitful live.  And not just a fruitful life, but bearing fruit that lasts.  

Part of this clinging and bearing fruit process must include the pruning of branches.  In order to bear more fruit.  Pruning brought through trials and hardships and suffering.  And then just the good ole, plain process of deconstruction.  

Of ripping out the stumbling blocks and strongholds and deceits in our lives.  Bringing to light some harsh truths and realities about our mindsets, habits, patterns and misconceptions.  How do we see God?  Do we really take him at his word?  Do we really not just believe in God--but do we really believe him?  How do we see that relationship with him play out in our lives?  If he is real and all the word says is true, then how do we live it out? What is the reality that our lives are preaching and teaching others? 

These are the questions asked in the painful process of rebuilding. These questions, in fact, are the very sledgehammers that demolish  patterns of thinking, speaking and acting.  

This is the process as described in Ezekiel 36:25-27.

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

If you watched Jen Hatmaker's show or read her blog during the renovation process, then you know how crazy it made her to live in the middle of a construction zone.  She is good natured about it, but the angst of it is evident.  She and her husband are cooking breakfast for their five children on the back patio on an electric griddle in the middle of winter while sitting around a campfire.  They jokingly liken their status to actual camping in the middle of construction dust and chaos and living like squatters.  No where to get comfortable and relax.

Oh, yes.  I feel ya, Jen Hatmaker.  Because I'm sitting here in the middle of my own construction zone.  As God is challenging me to allow the process of pruning and removing my heart of stone and my consumerism faith and my stifling religion.  Questioning why I do what I do--from tradition?  Or as an extension of knowing and believing his love and grace while I listen to his teaching, staying near his feet?

Rebuilding times can be painful times.  And these painful times lead to rebuilding.  This is the process and rhythm of pruning.  Deconstruction.  Construction zones.  And then, the hard work of rebuilding that leads to a glorious reveal.  

John 15 tells us to remain in the vine.  As I looked up the definition of remain, I was struck by the very last notation.   

Remain--to be left after the removal, loss or destruction.

Just what's left after all the pruning?  What remains as we learn to remain close to Jesus?

The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.  And he let me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.  He asked me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" I said, "O Sovereign Lord, you alone know." Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.  This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life.  Then you will know I am the Lord"...they came to life and stood up on their feet--a vast army.
Ezekiel 37:1-6, 10

If you are stripped down to the bones, covered in construction dust, ripped up and torn up, and feeling demolished, then I have a word for you.

Remain.  Remain or stay at His feet.  

Allow walls to be shattered.  Allow old things to be cut away, as I blogged about from Joshua 5 and 6.  Press in to the seasons of trials and brokenness and pruning.

And what remains... what is left after the removal or loss or is the beginning of rebuilding.  It's the beginning of the new spirit and the new heart that comes after the removal of stone.  God's spirit in us so that we can follow his decrees.  The dry bones will thus experience God's very breath to bring about new life.

So that God can attach tendons and make flesh come upon us and cause skin to cover us.

Then we will come to life, 
trading our dead things,
our burned out religion, 
our weight of suffering, 
our misconceptions and unbelief for...

...Sabbath life.  Sitting at his feet.  This is the setting where new life and new hearts and new flesh can be born.  After seasons of deconstruction--seasons of facing our tendencies to perform and to be consumers of God.

Acknowledging how we walk the fence and perimeters and get distracted in the kitchen.  How we can be troubled and anxious about many things as we carry our own yoke instead of learning the unforced rhythms of grace.

These hard things--these harsh realizations--can be tearing us down to the bone so that new muscles and skin and life and heart are added on.

There we cling to his feet, remain in him, even during hard seasons or during tedious daily life.  And we remember he grieves with us and he made his dwelling place among us.  There we are mindful of the new life that will come.

He can breath new life into your dead places and raise you up to be a warrior.  Oh, yes, "the dry bones came to life and stood up on their feet, a vast army" (Ezekiel 37:10).

When you are knocked down by the blow of pruning and deconstruction, shake off the dust.  Remember, dear friend, that God is making you an overwhelming conqueror...a warrior for Him.

Blog post #13 in a series: Sabbath Living: Sitting at the Feet of Jesus.   

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