Of tuning forks and useless stones.
When I was very small, my dad used a tuning fork to tune his guitar. The process was so satisfying and mysterious to me. He'd strike the fork on his leg and put it on the bridge of his guitar, and as the tone was amplified through his instrument, it was like the air came alive. The sound was like anything I had experienced, the only way to describe it, is that it felt like a magic purity and that reverberation sparked a deep longing inside me.
I've been thinking a lot about that feeling lately, and I realized that I am often looking for that "resonance" in the world around me. That search is one thing that has carried over from my childhood. And when I reflect on the entirety of my life, I see that it is marked by the pursuit of that resonance named by two driving forces, perfection and longing.
In my earliest memories, I longed to be perfectly obedient because I thought it would make my parents happy. I longed for "perfect" grades because I thought that it would ensure a successful future. I longed for a "perfect" friend because I thought that it would take away my loneliness. I even longed for the next "perfect" book because reading helped to quiet the loudness of my mind, for a time.
What I didn't realize, that even without knowing the gospel, I had come in contact with the law. This law, was my own personal "law" that I had set up for myself, but it worked in the same way. As I strove for these ideals, I could never attain them. I failed myself bitterly again and again. Likewise, the people in my life failed me and "my rules" over and over.
It was so disappointing and disenchanting.
Before I entered my teen years I was already reaching a crisis- it became clear that no one and no thing, would ever be able to live up to my standards, including myself. As time dragged on, it became clear that the perfection that I thought would save me from the wild torrent raging within, was impossible. Everything and everyone in my life was utterly dissatisfying and deeply disappointing and the greatest dissatisfaction and disappointment I found, was, in myself. I couldn't save myself from my own expectation. I felt numb, I felt torn apart, I felt dead and useless.
Then, quite suddenly, I met Him. I had just turned sixteen, and for the first time. I experienced perfection. His. After giving my life to Jesus, I felt perfectly clean, perfectly loved and had perfect peace. The torrent was was calmed. I felt like a whole person and I felt like I had purpose. The world and it's meaning, had righted itself.
I heard the word of God being preached at the youth group I was visiting, and instead of words, I heard that tuning fork. It resonated with that magical purity. It was as if my whole life I had been frantically running around, striking a tuning fork, placing it onto anything I could get my hands on and getting the wrong note. In that moment, I experienced all the strings of my soul being tuned to the right notes all at once, and that harmonic, has stayed with me ever since.
Fast forward a few decades and my life is still one that is marked by those forces, perfection and longing. I still struggle with the oh-so-very-human Sara laws and rules I've set up to judge myself and everyone else. I still struggle with disappointment and discontent.
But now I recognize that the way that God crafted me personally and uniquely. The way He made my heart, mind and personality tainted by the fall, has also been slowly sanctified and shaped by Him and used for His glory. Over the years, these traits have shifted towards something more Holy. I say "more" Holy, because I still have a long way to go as I struggle with this Pharisee-"perfectionism", and wrestle my shallow desires for order, beauty, cleanliness and comfort. I also can be tangled up with deep longing for things I should not. But, over the years, the shift and the sanctification has come. Firstly, I can more easily recognize, confess, and repent of the perfectionism and longing that lead me away from God and His way. Secondly, wonderfully, my longings have drastically shifted away from outward beauty, cleanliness and order to inner.
It's amazing the work God can do in such a wretched soul.
I now long to be Holy.
I long not to disappoint Him.
I long for heaven.
It's a beautiful thing in an ugly world.
But hey- the reality is that most days, I wake up with my heart and my mind unbearably loud and chaotic- the battle raging is fierce! Some days I feel unable to stand up under the burdens I carry. However, I have also learned that looking for His wonder and awe in life, is important for my faith. It helps me connect to the God who holds all things together, and this practice helps me to give Him the glory. Ebeneezer places where I can consistently find that "tuning fork" harmonic, reverberating His purity and goodness in this weird wild world.
This week, I found it
In Psalm 38 .
In this song .
In a text from my friend.
In the words from my husband.
In my freshly weeded garden.
May you feel His presence in a deep and palpable way today.
If your heart is stone, I pray that He breaks it.
If you are filled with sorrows that threaten to capsize, that He would hold your gaze and keep you from drowning.
If you are in the valley or in the desert, you would suddenly feel His shelter.
If you are a slave to your own law, that the chains would be broken.
Lord God, King of Kings
Who am I that you are mindful of me?
Who are we that you hold it all together?
Who am I, that you transformed my useless heart of stone, to one of flesh, just for you own glory!?
I bring nothing.
I am so unworthy.
Yet, you give me all and you give me your own worthiness.
Today- keep me close to you.
Keep me from being numb
to my great sin,
Keep me from being numb
to your love,
Keep me from being numb
to your spirit's leading.
Help me to love you and your ways
more than I love myself and my own-
Then help me to love others, the way you do.
Give me eyes
to see your wonder
to feel your glory
to sense the perfection of your harmonic in this world-
so that again and again, my wild and untamed heart can be tethered to you.
Thank you for the way you made me, and for the life and gifts you've given me.
Help me to look to you when my foot strays from your path.
Most of all, thank you for rescuing me from myself.