I always appreciate when I have an hour or so in the morning to ease into the stuff of the day. And there's been a lot of stuff recently. It is one of those seasons in which demands on each day's time are pretty high. And going through it reminds me of how multi-faceted and intricate we are. Because as I'm walking through this time, I'm also ever-aware of His consistent shaping of my heart and mind. If I were to try to figure each element out, I'm pretty sure I would go crazy.
I can't go on without telling you a story of an interaction I had with a friend back in September. It wasn't a radical event, but I'm pretty sure that it transformed my life. I'm a thinker, an analyzer. It makes me an excellent strategist, but a pretty self-centered friend at times. I was visiting this friend (we'll call him Cliff) and one of the afternoons, he was sitting by the piano, just playing. Not thoroughly enjoying the silence, I asked him a question that would cause him to self-analyze- something to the effect of, "What gives you joy?". His response-stern and strong- was "Amy, just be." Initially, this bugged me. How dare he silence me?! (smile) But one December morning, long after the trip was over, those words came to me again. Just be. Just be who you are, where you are- and really be there. And I understood what freedom lies in that concept. It's a chance to slow down, chill out...and yes, shut up.
That sets the stage for the way I am approaching my time in Romans. I'm reading through it again, as I've realized that this time has given me a different (and perhaps more of a mature?) approach to truth. It is with a recognition of where I am right now- what that means. So when I read that "God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance", that means that this imperfect woman, who has some issues of pride and fear, will repent of those things because of who He is. It means that my heart is softened, I mature, I am able to love, because of who He is. (See 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 for list of "who He is").
As I go further into the passage, I totally resonate with Paul's rebuke of those judging. "While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law?" (2:21-23) This is where the "shut up" humility is so necessary for me. It is my nature- I default- to judgement. It's not really as if I sit there thinking, "Hmmm. This person is a SINNER." No. The thoughts are much more subtle. "At least I don't deal with X like this one does" or "Man, that would really be awful if I had to deal with that. Yikes." Those are my default thoughts. So, knowing that about myself- I need to just be quiet. I don't need to form an opinion on someone's life. I need to truly be still and know that He is God. This means in control, the one who knows the secrets of the heart, and the one who has called me to love. His ways are not my ways. I cannot understand why. So I need to just be as I seek to know Him more.
And the interesting thing is- as I seek Him and learn more of His character, my efforts to "just be" are less trying. Amazing how a knowledge of the Creator enables the creation to rest. (smile)