Right there in between interceding for essential workers and small businesses, she requested something totally outrageous.
“Lord, I ask that you wouldn’t release us from our homes until you have changed us and accomplished the work that needs to be done in our own hearts.”
I opened my eyes and looked hard at the earnest face of the woman leading our online prayer meeting. Her prayer broke me from my thread of agreements. A “yes, Lord” wasn’t something I wanted to readily offer. Agreeing with a prayer like that is an invitation for certain discomfort.
It’s been a week now, and I still haven’t quite said, “Amen.”
The truth is, there are some deep things this season of forced isolation is uncovering. For starters, I’m an addict. Productivity is my drug of choice. I get high off of working more, achieving more, doing more. Like a junkie taking another hit, I cross things off my hefty to-do list and sigh with self-satisfaction.
The first weeks of quarantine offered me a fresh supply of intoxicating goals. I mastered the technology of online classes, learned to cut my dog’s hair, baked bread, re-landscaped the front yard, and organized my closet according to color (yeah…I’m that lady.)
But my supply of inebriating distractions is starting to dry up. And that’s kind of freaking me out. Productivity is how I typically define myself, and I’m beginning to experience withdrawal symptoms. I’m getting closer to having to be sober.
My friend Shannon Quintana didn’t know how hard she hit me this morning with her text: It’s a crazy thing when everything you DO is stripped away, and you’re faced with who you ARE.
Yeah, right now I’m not sure I like who I actually am. I’m certain you won’t like who I actually am. And I’m leaning toward believing I won’t like who you actually are either.
After weeks of confinement, many of us are discovering our beings have been hiding behind our doings. As the buzz of productivity wears off, we are encountering heavy-laden hearts full of fear, unforgiveness, bitterness, jealousy, pride, and lust. It’s painful to look at the naked truth about who we are behind all the doing.
But God? He’s not discovering something new about us right now, He’s exposing us to ourselves. And as repelled as we might be by what we see, He isn’t pushing us away. Rather, He is inviting us to change.
We are running out of excuses for not dealing with ourselves. Now that laundry is caught up and the inbox is empty, there are long-ignored wounds to tend, deep disappointments to process, relationships to reconcile, and attitude adjustments that are long-overdue. The effects of busyness are wearing off, and the real state of our souls is beginning to show.
Maybe your distractions are different than mine, but I’d bet that God is wanting to do some work on your soul too. Perhaps this confinement is being allowed so that we can have the space we desperately need to do the hard things we have postponed for years.
So, what if God answers my friend’s prayer?
What if we aren’t set free from this season until His desired change is accomplished in our hearts? How long will we let it go on? Will we stay confined by our own aversion to discomfort, or are we willing to do what is hard in order to be set free?
I’m dreading the pain of self-confrontation, and I’m reluctant to endure the discomfort of being exposed as a fraud who hides behind my to-do list. I suppose you might feel the same way. Will you agree to the intervention God has set up for us both? Will you go to soul rehab with me?
As much as we may want to avoid the pain of the process, we really do want sobriety, don’t we? We really do want to be set free from the clutter, chaos, confusion, compromise, complacency, and cumbersome sin. We just don’t want to do the scary part of working through it all.
But it would be scarier for us to NOT accept His invitation.
Let’s remember a God-sent invitation to change is also a promise made by the One who cannot fail. If He is calling us to change, then He is also promising to do whatever it takes for us to be set free.
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!