Sunday, August 10, 2014

Michael's Story.

So today I have a guest on this little blog of mine. A guest pretty special to me. His name is Michael and he is my husband.
Over the seven years that we have been married, there have been times I've questioned God about our marriage, I've experienced every emotion possible toward this man, and  I never would have believed that this day would come. But I need to say this: When I read these words, my heart and eyes overflowed. Because it isn't at all possible that this is either of us. And it makes me believe all the more in the goodness and grace of my Father.
I've never been more grateful to get to stand next to this man and walk through life with him... the good and the hard parts. This guy makes me proud to be his wife with these words that take God-blessed courage to write. And then I asked him if I could share them with you all. So here they are: Michael's Story.

I always thought it was my appearance that mattered. Now it's my shattered appearance that draws me to Jesus.

Be warned...this is ugly.

As I write, so many emotions are overwhelming my heart. It's weird because I never was a guy that wore his emotions on his sleeve. I was too tough for that. I was a real man ya know? It all changed when reality really, I mean really, dawned on me that I was a completely broken, needy person, that was behind the bars of sin, pun intended. In May of 2012, the walls I'd built up, the fortress I'd created, the masks I wore, it all fell. Not in a pretty way either. Behind the mask was a man that spent about ten years relying on pornography to meet his deepest need. A constant let down. A man that had been married for five years and had multiple affairs. A man that visited strip clubs. A lying, manipulative, secretive, self-seeking man that thought he had it all together. A man that went to church and professed Christ outwardly, but inwardly was a prisoner to sexual sin. My appearance was in tact, but inside I was a mess.

Told you it was ugly.

I always thought a weakness meant being a failure and failing was not an option. Now I shout my weaknesses to the world.

There's a story in Luke 8 about a woman with a hemorrhage. For 12 years this uncontrollable flow of blood plagued her. One day, in what seems to be a last ditch effort, she reaches out to Jesus. In the Message Version, Luke tells it like this: "When the woman realized that she couldn't remain hidden, she knelt trembling before Him. In front of all the people, she blurted out her story---why she touched Him and how at that same moment she was healed (8:47-48)." It's crazy how much I relate to this story. When I used to read the Bible I wanted to relate to David slaying Goliath or Peter walking on water. But the lady with the hemorrhage? Really? Oh well...

In May of 2012, when I realized I couldn't remain hidden anymore, I knelt trembling before my Lord. For the last two and a half years, and still today, I choose to blurt out my story. Not because it feels good. Oh, absolutely not. It sucks really. It's painful. But the magnification of my ugliness leaves an immense amount of room for the magnification of God's glory. I get to share the healing power of our Lord. It's not that He made me completely perfect. No, I am far from that. It's that He has shown me I am perfectly complete in Him. And the best part about the end of Luke 8, Jesus replies with "you took a risk in trusting Me, and now you're healed and WHOLE."

I always thought that I had to come to God whole for Him to be proud of me. Now I know it's the broken Michael He desires.

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (Psalm 51:17).

As a culture we don't like things that are broken. Broken glass, throw it away. Rip in the couch, get rid of it. Old car, buy a new one. Chip on the tooth, get it fixed quick before family pictures. I recently heard about this Japanese form of art called Kintsugi.

The idea is to highlight the imperfections of pottery. The cracks are traced over, but not just with anything. They are traced over with gold. The best artwork is the one that has the most flaws. Why? More room for the gold embellishment. The illumination of the cracks is the true beauty. The master artist traces over the once broken parts with gold, and a piece that was at one time ugly, becomes extremely valued. Not because the cracks were removed, but because they now shine bright with the handiwork of the master artist. The cracks in my heart, the broken parts of me haven't been removed. No, they are still there, but now they have been traced over with the glory of the real Master Artist.

I always thought I had the Holy Spirit living inside me. Now I realize I had a room deep within my heart that I never allowed Him access to.

Revelation 3:20 says "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to Him and eat with him, and he with Me." So this was at the end of the letter to the Church of Laodicea, meaning to professing believers. My question is, what if the door He is knocking on isn't the front door. What if He's talking about already being in the house, and He's knocking not on the front door, but on the door to the hidden room we never let anyone in to. He promised me that if I opened that door He would come in and dine with me. Right in the middle of the filth, the mess, the most broken part of me, Jesus wanted to set up brunch. I want to dine where it's the cleanest. Jesus seems to meet me right where it is the dirtiest. That stuff doesn't make Jesus uncomfortable like it does me. A prostitute poured oil on Him and kissed His feet. I would have been extremely self-conscience in that moment, wondering what the others around me thought. Jesus thrived in those moments. Seemed to, shall we say, "live" for those moments. We don't change and then come into the presence of Jesus. We are changed by coming into the presence of Him. I never was going to have that filthy room cleaned up good enough to open it willingly. My only option, when I couldn't remain hidden anymore, was to open the door and cry out to Him for help.

Andrew Murray wrote once that "we are to always meet with God as a God who desires truth in our inward parts. In all your confession of sin, in all your religion, in your whole existence, let truth in your inward parts be your desire as it is the desire of God."

Psalm 69:33 says "For The Lord hears the needy and does not despise His own people who are prisoners."

While I literally did spend time in prison because of my sins, I believe this is talking about those incarcerated to their sins. When I finally cried out to God, when I told Him that He could do whatever it took and I didn't care what it would cost me, He was faithful to rescue, to bail me out. When I finally valued the presence of Christ in the darkest room of my heart over what people would think of me, over future pursuits, over appearing like a godly man, the chains of sin lost their power.

I always thought it was best to keep my struggles to myself. Ya know, between me and God. Now I think that the prayers of a righteous person have incredible power and my struggles need to be confessed to them.

Only when I am courageous enough to allow others to dive into the depths of my darkness, am I able to experience the freedom of the light. The ironic thing about our life is that generally we think for our light to shine bright we need to make sure everything in our life looks good and spiritual and healthy. If it's all in place people will be like, "wow, look at him!" And I'm like "yeah, look at me." But if people were to see the broken things in me and see God work gloriously in and through them, people will be like "wow, look at God!" And I will be like "yeah, look at Him." But too often I want people to look at me. But I can't make much of God and me at the same time. "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30).

I say we choose to no longer walk in the dark. What if we choose to be glow sticks. Yes, glow sticks. The only way our light shines is through brokenness. Then and only then are we moldable clay in the hands of God. If not, we are simply stiff, dark individuals walking around this earth. My prayer for myself and for others is that we would take a risk in trusting Jesus. That we would open up that secret door to Him. That we would ask God to reveal to us the broken areas in our life so that He can trace over it with gold.