Altitude Sickness

Well, friends, I'm writing this blog entry from our new home in Colorado. Yes, we made it! I'm surrounded by towering brown boxes, and the computer on which I'm typing was only unpacked last night. I'm sitting in what was intended to be a formal dining room, but as we're not really a formal dining room sort of family, we're lovingly referring to it as our den and using it as such. I really have no idea what day it is or how long we've been in Colorado; I just know that I'm exhausted, that the girls have been having a hard time with all the upheaval, that the movers pretty much broke ALL of our stuff, that this altitude is kicking my rear, that the home we rented sight unseen is so much better than anything we've ever had (despite some puzzling odors and a thankfully debunked fear that the house might once have been used as a meth lab), that I'm quite homesick, and that this part of the country is heart-stopping, wildly beautiful. The air is cleaner, thinner, and dryer, the sun far brighter. A mile westward, alien-esque red rock formations and mammoth mountains jut heavenward. I'm SO stinking thirsty, which is apparently partly caused by my body working to produce more red blood cells to compensate for the decreased oxygen levels at this higher elevation. It's all sort of wondrous, don't you think? Our new life in the mountains demands an actual physiological change, which seems just about right given how intensely this move has impacted me. 


We visited a church this morning and, although it definitely will not be the body of Christ we join, the Spirit did great things in my heart--not through the young pastor's message--but through a single verse of scripture (Psalm 138:8) projected on a screen behind him as he spoke:


The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
    your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
    Do not forsake the work of your hands. 

Coming here to this new state, this new city, this new culture (yes, it is that different), I've felt an immense responsibility to get everything right--the right house, the right church, the right school, the right neighborhood, etc., and I've doubted some of our decisions along the way. Needless to say that while my husband and I are certainly seeking God's will and praying for discernment and wisdom in all these matters, we are not omniscient, and neither are we sinless (shocker of all shockers). We are responsible for our honest walk with Jesus, for confessing our sin and receiving Christ's forgiveness by faith, for submitting all our ways to Him, for our obedience, for stoking the flames of our affections for Him that in Him we would find our deepest satisfaction, for trusting Him and believing Him, BUT, "As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust" (Psalm 103:13,14). I, however, sometimes forget that I am dust, that I am but a clay pot encasing a great treasure and neither the pot maker nor the treasure inside. Or to paraphrase Paul and put it another way, I can plant seeds and water them, but i can't make anything grow. That's God's purview, and yet I seem to spend a lot of time, too much time, trying to do what only God can do. He knows my limits. Not only does He know them, He created them. It is clear to Him what is my responsibility and what is His, and He knows how often my unbelief (let's call it what it is) sends me off into deep, treacherous waters He never intended for me to tread. The Lord (not me) will bring to completion the good work He began in me (Phil 1:6) and will keep me from stumbling, presenting me before His glorious presence on that last day without fault and with great joy (Jude 24). I can trust Him for these tremendous spiritual truths and for His Sovereignty to reign in all aspects of my earthly, everyday life, too. 

The experience this morning gave me a fresh appreciation for the power of God's word--God's unadorned and unaltered word--and reminded me that Jesus certainly does not need a multi-million dollar facility with a bookstore and coffee shop and purple lights to teach people to follow Him, that it is God's Spirit who illuminates, instructs, compels, leads, sanctifies. The pastor spoke with passion, but his rehearsed speech, despite its eloquence, worked no healing, stirred in me no greater love for Christ, led to no sense of conviction, because it did not really lift up Christ at all. And yet there was a verse of scripture--God's Word and not man's--quietly displayed, not even read aloud or referenced, and it screamed across the large auditorium, bringing everything into focus and tears to my eyes. Oh, how prideful and foolish we are when we lose sight of who is really in charge, who is really running the show, when we think we are more important in His will being accomplished than we are. And how comforting to be reminded that the Lord will fulfill his purpose for us, that not everything depends on our striving, our failures and successes, that we are the work of His hands and not the other way around, and that because His love is steadfast and eternal, He will never forsake those He has redeemed. 

That single verse from Psalm 138 lifted me up out of sinking sand and set my feet on firm ground. I will not fulfill my purpose for me. I will not even fulfill God's purpose for me. The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me. What peace there is in being the work of my Maker's hands, in knowing my place and His, and in worshipping Him, loving Him all the more for that vast difference.