"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Face Down

The ark of God is stolen and placed in the temple of Dagon (1 Samuel 5). The next morning the theives came into the temple and found a shocking surprise.
"When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning whenthey rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained."
If I had to pick a favorite story from the Old Testament, this would be in the top 5!

Imagine the scene. They walk in for morning worship time and find their marble god face down before the Ark. (oops... uh, you okay, god??) Then, they take their god and put him back up! And, then, the next morning they come in and find their god on his face again--- but this time with his limbs torn off. (hmm... god, you doing alright there?!)

This was the passage the Lord brought to mind the other morning. And, just to be clear, He wasn't speaking to my heart about another person. He was speaking to me about me... and my god. Ouch.

For weeks now, I have been asking the Father to wean me from this earth. What I meant by the prayer was, ...wean me from sin, Lord. Wean me from temptation and the things of this world that lead me away from You. This was the prayer of my heart.
I realized this week that He is answering this prayer... but not, exactly, as I have been asking. He hasn't weaned me from this earth and the temptations. I am still tempted. I am still fleshly. I am still prone to wander. No apparent change there!

What He is weaning me from... or working to wean me from... is my god, my mini-Dagon. It all became clear to me when I was "randomly" reminded of this story. I have a "god" too and I prop it back up, time and time (and time) again. I put it's head on and glue it's legs on. And, it just can't stand in the Presence of God any longer. I come to worship and it must fall face down. It just must surrender.

My god is self. Or, should I call it self-reliance. Self-discipline (that sounds nicer). Self-assurance and self-righteousness. Coping mechanisms and skills I learned young "to survive"... skills that allow me to do most anything I put my mind to, to "be okay" and make it through any situation, to be perfect (or to show forth perfection and avoid weakness)... they all seem to be failing me these days. They are falling face down and loosing limbs!! No, more, Stephanie... my Father seems to be whispering. No more.

As trite and common as it might sound, still, deep within me there is such a pull to earn my way to God. We all have heard it... so, so, so many times. The preacher says, "We can't earn our salvation! It is grace alone." We nod our heads... Yes, Yes! we say with agreement. And, yet...

Somewhere inside I still rely on those acts of discipline, those prayers, those "times with God", that ability to say no to the temptation, that generous service, that self-control, that kind word said about me... as my "okay-ness". I rely on myself. No more, Stephanie.

Sunday I was showered with messages of His love, His unfailing mercy, and His faithfulness. Today I was bombarded with His words of truth... "it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and it's not from yourself. It is a gift of God" and, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Weakness. In weakness, Stephanie.

This most certainly isn't the first time Father has dealt hard with this god. Like the Israelites before me, who kept going back to Baal... over and over again, this is a lesson of years. This isn't new. But, my God is faithful to complete what He has started in me 20 years ago. He began that good work and today He is still hammerin' away--- amputating arms, legs and the head of my god.

This idol of self needs to die. She needs to fall face down before the Presence of God. May I not prop her up again. May I truly learn to rely on Him alone--- His strength, His grace, His mercy, His goodness and His faithfulness alone. Oh Father, continue to wean me from this earth.
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