I looked up.
Day 2 of our 4-day B.C road trip was just beginning. In less than 30 minutes, we would be checking out of our hotel room in Lillooet and heading off to Kamloops. I wanted to spend the last minutes of my prayer time reminiscing, so I closed my eyes and drifted away.
I saw the fog, the sea, the mountains, the trees. I felt the wind on my face and heard my mother’s laughter. We had planned every detail of this trip, yet I couldn’t help but feel completely lost in the midst of God’s astonishing creation.
My sister walked across the room. 20 minutes to go.
I began to think about what the Holy Spirit was teaching me lately. About my ongoing struggle with disappointment when it came to my perceived lack of character. Why couldn’t I be more like Jesus? Why couldn’t I love like Him, forgive like Him, be hospitable and generous like Him?
I felt stuck. It was as if I wasn’t growing quickly enough…as if I should have been more mature considering the fact that I had been seriously seeking God for a few years now. Wanting to change was encouraging, praying for it was expected, but not seeing much of it in specific areas was frustrating.
God was addressing that frustration.
He showed me that I was not allowing Him to refine my character because I still didn’t recognize the countless opportunities that were meant to do so. I was too busy practicing my faith before others.
When God used a circumstance to expose a character flaw in public, my reaction was not to thank Him for revealing my heart’s condition. Instead, I was concerned about damage control:
“Who saw that? Let me explain…you misunderstood…this is where I’m coming from…”.
Shame would set in, and instead of repenting before God, I paid attention to how others might have perceived me.
When God exposed a character flaw in private, my objective was still to suppress the behaviour as quickly as possible. It was as if I had to hide and “handle it” before He noticed…as if God was afraid of sin. As if I could overcome on my own.
Old habits die hard. Was there a way out of this?
A car drove by. I checked the time again. 8 minutes to go.
How could God possibly love me? How could He not condemn me based on this alone? He probably hadn’t even shown me the extent of the situation. But what He did show me was not meant to guilt me into striving for man-made perfection.
It was meant to direct and encourage me. God didn’t need my manufactured victories: every time He uncovered sin in my heart, He was uncovering something that He had already conquered. There was no need to hide. No need to pretend. No need to rely on religious habits. No need to panic.
Unlike me, who was too busy attacking endless symptoms, God could see and deal with the roots of sin. I knew that His ways were not my ways. He would lead me in His own way.
My mother zipped up her bag. 3 minutes to go.
I looked out the window and contemplated the mountains.
“You marvel at them”, I heard God say. “How would you build one?”
“I wouldn’t” I replied as I thought about it. “But if I had to build a mountain, I would start with the foundation. I would then work my way up and create a giant pile of rocks. It probably wouldn’t look like one of your mountains, but I can’t think of any other way of building one”.
My heart grew silent.
“Do you know how I did it?” God asked.
I smiled in anticipation.