As we entered into 2011, Rich told me one night in the car that he felt as though 2011 was going to be a year of great change...of good things. (Looking back on that moment, I sometimes wish I had known what I know now so that I could have told him to take that statement back!) I had no idea just how deep that change would go. I could not fathom how broad-sweeping that profession would be. We are only 7 months into the year, and I'm looking ahead wondering what else the Lord has for us in the remaining 4 months. I'm sure I'll read over this post in a year or so and laugh with the knowledge of what happened in the remaining months.
The Lord has certainly been passing out change slips to the Roberts household. We've been up, down, round and round in the selling of our old home and purchasing a new home. We are in the process of "making the new home ours" which has proven to be one challenge after another. (Who knew it could be so difficult to get flooring installed or that paint could be so expensive or that people don't really do what they say they are going to do?...ok...we already knew that.) We've had to deal with family issues that we wished had turned out differently. We stared into the eyes of haunting health problems. My new job escalated in responsibility and travel. We've paid off debt. (I had to throw that one in because I'm just so dog gone excited about it!) We've taken on a new area of ministry. (Although not viewed by me as positive, in the beginning, I am now 110% certain that this is a great change.) We learned new things about some of the people in our lives. We learned new things about ourselves.
All of these have challenged me to the core. To the deepest part of my core. There were times when I could physically feel the changes effecting my life. I have shed tears. I've yelled. I've fought (and lost). I've dug my heels into the ground. I've thrown a fit (or two). I've given in, only to take up the fight
later the next day. I've questioned who I am and what in the world I'm doing. I've questioned God. I've contemplated just giving up and being a status quo Christian. All the while, the Lord was taking away layer after layer of stuff sin so that He could get to my "core". The central part of my life. All so that He could be my helmsman. He was refining what was already there. He was making sure that I am not the same person today as I was on January 1, 2011. He has picked me up, turned me upside down and shaken everything out of my pockets. I thought I was strong. He showed me my weaknesses. I thought I trusted Him completely. He proved to me that my faith wasn't as big as it seemed. I thought I was trucking right along doing well in my spiritual walk. He pulled the road out from under me. I thought I had a good attitude. He gave me a whiff of the stench that was rolling off my attitude.
I have been challenged to my core, and I'm shocked at what He had to remove and/or change. BUT GOD... Man, He is so faithful to us. I can see that what He's doing in me is to prepare me for something far greater. (Do you ever get tired of saying that or wonder if you sound as cliche to others as you sound to yourself?) All of those things had to go if I'm going to grow as a leader. I can say "I don't want anymore, Lord. Just stop!" But I do want more. So much more. The thought of being stuck right here, spiritually, for the rest of my life gives me an anxiety attack. What a waste of a person I would be! Through this all, He has uncovered new passions within me that I didn't even know were there. I had packed so much junk around my "core" that I didn't even know what was there. There are all these things that He has put inside of me, and I just keep covering them up with sin, ideas of my own and the daily grind of life.
Now not everything that was around my core was bad. I have some really sweet fruit that has grown from my core...just like the apple above. But I feel like the Lord has pulled that fruit back so that the seeds He's been planting in me could be used to produce more fruit. We sometimes like to hang on to old fruit and show it off for as long as we can. We love to talk about the time back at the Fall 2001 retreat where we led this lady to the Lord and she's now a powerful woman of God. "Yep, look at my fruit...isn't she lovely?" Only problem is that we get into a rut thinking that we've done one good thing so we can just sit down and have a rest for the next 10 years. We get really comfortable in our Christian walk because we continue to focus on the good stuff we've already done and we end up forgetting that there's more to be done. So He's making sure that I don't become one of those complacent Christians. He's not allowing my fruit to rot or become damaged. He wants me to be constantly sowing and reaping. So He continues to refine me. He continues to dig deeper and uncover the more mature seeds....all while pulling out the worms and getting rid of the rot.
That process has been painful...BUT GOD has been an amazing provider and healer. Every cut He makes, He covers with the Balm of Gilead. Every thing He takes, He replaces with something greater. Every time He turns me upside down, He eventually stands me back up on my feet...kisses me on the top of my head and says, "Go get 'em Tiger." Man, I love Him!