Holding Fast and Letting Go
I think the biggest lesson God has been teaching me recently is about using my obsessiveness properly. (I hate the word "properly" when it implies something stuffy and Pharisaical, but love it when it implies a right ordering of the jigsaw pieces to make the picture they were cut from.)
So how does one "use obsessiveness properly"?
I heard a sermon recently on Jesus' struggle in the garden of Gethsemane, and realized that I had never heard anyone mention -- or read anything written about -- the passionate ambivalence that Jesus modeled for us there. He was passionate about God's authority and God's perfect wisdom and love. He was equally passionate about His own horror at what He knew the next few days would hold, and His desire to not experience that pain and shame and abandonment. So He was "ambivalent" -- not in the sense we so often use it, of being detached and emotionless, but rather in the fullest sense of the word. He was "ambivalent" in that He experienced fully two contradictory desires.
Jesus taught us so much in His direct teaching and in His parables about living fully, and then in the final days of His life did what He needed to do so that we would have the redemption and the new life that only His passion and His resurrection and ascension could provide. We all know all of that. But do we see that He modeled for us in those final weeks -- as well as in all of His days before those weeks -- a picture of what living His own teaching looked like in the face of the deepest human struggle possible? And we are told very clearly in scripture that He made the choices He made "for the joy set before Him". He had us in mind, and He had eternity in mind. He had the reality of God the Father and His character and love in mind. He had reality in mind!
So passion and "obsessiveness" are properly used when they focus one upon TRUTH and REALITY, and improperly used (they use us!) when they focus one upon anything false that will ultimately prove empty and unsatisfying. Christ did His part by obeying God the Father and submitting to the horror of His last days before His crucifixion and resurrection because He was focused on the reality of what God's Will means: "for Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever" are not just nice words, but rather a tiny glimpse of the place where we are fully satisfied, and where He would be fully satisfied and full of peace and joy.
None of us will ever go through what the Son of God went through in His passion and death and resurrection . . .
But all of us will go through our own call to pick up our own crosses and follow Him . . . to die to self and live to Him.
And all of us must be ready to go through the same "passionate ambivalence" that He went through. I must experience fully and bring to God fully my own desires and my request that He fulfill them my way. I must also experience fully a submission to Him as a submission to the One Who loves me and others fully and is not after needless pain or needless denial on my part, but rather after giving me fully all that He desires to give me, which far exceeds the loveliness of what my own desires would give me. And that doesn't happen unless I couple a growing understanding of external reality -- Who He is, who you are, how the world works, how desperately I need Him -- with a growing understanding of the internal reality of what I really want and who I really am and of how desperately I need Him.
So again, how does one "use obsessiveness properly"?
One lives life fully, allowing daily experience to sharpen and fuel passion and obsessiveness for the right things: GOD, people, TRUTH, people, LOVE, people, JUSTICE, people, MERCY, people, ORDER, people . . .
And the focus and motivation that God-given passion for the right things brings leads us very easily to a new daily experience of
So I am learning to hold fast to the things that He leads my heart to cling to . . . until He gives me the grace to let them go for better things . . .
And I am learning to let go of the things that I "ought" to be or want or do . . . until He gives me the passion to pursue any of those things . . .
And I am learning how to enjoy the things I have, right here and right now . . . and to also enjoy the desires I have for the things I don't have but wish I did . . .
(It is sometimes just as sweet to have unfulfilled desires as it is to have the abundance of gifts that I actually possess and hold, isn't it?)
And, like so many of "the things I am learning", I could have written about all of this from my head years ago, and said I "knew it" . . .
But now I am actually experiencing the joy and the pain of dealing with reality as it stretches me and tries me and refines me and changes me.
It hurts. And it's scary!
But I am learning to do it "for the joy set before me". I am learning the joy of real authentic living, and I trust that the God Who is teaching me is capable of turning the pain to full joy.
Freedom is scary, but it is freedom within the reality of His arms. And that cannot be written about or described. It must be lived. As He teaches me to let go of the things that He needs me to let go of, and to hold fast to the things He wants me to never stop loving and being and doing, He is teaching me to use properly the obsessiveness that He created in me -- as He created obsessiveness in each man and woman, in each boy and girl.
He is not after passionless and emotionless robots who submit unfeelingly and without free will to His will as their creator. He never was!
He is after passionate, bright individuals who have their own will just as much as they have their own personality and character and style. He loves obsession in us, for it is a fullness of His image stamped onto free beings who have their own wills. And His greatest joy is to see each of us come to a place where we passionately exercise our own free will and there is no conflict with His will. That harmony is what scripture calls "heaven".
Bring heaven here, Lord Jesus! "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven . . ."!!!
And each day brings us a day closer. Thank you, Triune God!