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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

4th chapter of "The Well-Loved Soul"

See the past three Wednesdays for the first three chapters.
The Master
"The watchmen found me
as they made their rounds in the
city. They beat me, they bruised me;
they took away my cloak,
those watchmen of the walls!
(song of songs 5:7)

In order for a slave to change her world, she must first change her master…

The slave begins to ponder the benevolence of her Master. Her head, her intellect, her logic hold firmly to the belief that her God loves her and has a wonderful plan for her life. Yet her life experiences scream a very different truth. And it seems they always have. Her inner voice confirms this truth, relentlessly reminding her of her inadequacies, her shortcomings, her failures. The guilt of never measuring up, of not being good enough, of continually falling short of the expected standard, is as constant and familiar as the air she breathes.

Moreover, if she is to be completely honest she feels remarkable confusion and disillusionment with her life as it now exists. Her closest relationships are not as she dreamed they would be. Often the people around her feel like a weight that she must carefully and diligently bear. At times she sees herself as a puppet, with others tugging and pulling on the strings, controlling the outcomes of her day. Frequently, she feels used, taken advantage of and personally adrift. What really is the purpose of her existence is it simply to serve? To carry out the duties of a mundane and thankless life with a joyful heart? This call has become too much to endure. The requirements are too high, too hard to fulfill. She is broken by her inability to fulfill her duty, and confused by a God who would demand so much and give so little. She is shocked by the conclusion of her realization…a God that gives so little. She gives so much, so much love, so much time, so much care to ensure her responsibilities are met, her family is cared for. Where are the promises of peace, joy, and rest for the weary?

Sanctuary is not to be found, when her mind runs with fearful and anxious thoughts; when guilt lay heavy upon the doorstep of her soul; when sadness leaves her feeling lifeless and bruised and when resentment dominates every waking moment. The betrayal is perplexing. Continually she gives all she has and yet she still dwells in an empty, expressionless, sorrowful soul. All she gives never seems to be enough to silence the voice, to create peace, to secure the rest her soul desperately craves. The absolute brokenness of her own soul is overwhelming to her.

She finds her God to be silent, almost cruel as He demands so much from her and provides so little solace, and such meager comfort for the pain of her soul. She tries to listen to Him, to find words of comfort and encouragement and yet He is silent, distant, removed from her world. In His silence, the voice emerges, reminding her of her duty, her call to deny herself and serve. She hears other familiar voices from her family, her boss, the pulpit of her church reminding her not to be selfish, self-absorbed and faithless. To be selfish is to commit a grave crime. To consider herself, her needs, her desires, her dreams is to be self-seeking and that would be wicked.

She feels deeply discouraged that her faith does not provide the anchor of safety her soul desperately craves. She needs to be held, she needs to hear tender words of kindness and love, of protection and safety. She needs to know that she will be okay. That she is okay. That all that concerns her will be okay. She feels undone by her aloneness. The space around her soul is vacant of a caring voice and tender guidance. Absent of the restful, reassurance of a nurturing, proud father.

She grows perplexed by her feelings of disappointment and loss toward her God. It is almost as though she grieves for a love, an assurance, a safety she has never found.
Who really is this master she is bound to? She feels His disapproval so quickly. His standards are so high, yet not completely clear. What must I do exactly to gain His approval? If He would only tell me I would obey. He really is quite difficult to discern. He seems so demanding, so exacting, so stern, so critical, and so judgmental. The disapproval comes so quickly, yet the safety of His approval…have I ever really felt it? The weight of His perfection drains her very soul. He feels so heavy, as though He is watching me, waiting to accuse me in my failure and weakness.

It is then she realizes she is serving the wrong master…

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