The Bridge of ‘So That’

So That.

Two tiny words that form a transitional phrase and a conditional clause. They are the bridge between cause and effect and the signaling/ushering in of another season. A continuation of one season as it simultaneously prepares for the next.  “So that” can explain part of the ‘why’ in life as you look back over the circumstances they bridge to the outcome, purpose and result.

The only problem with the “so that” bridge is when God is still building the bridge in our lives we can only see the “so” part. It doesn’t make sense yet – and that is exactly where I am right now. I’m in a season of wrestling. Wrestling with serving/loving/living fully in the now as God pricks and prepares my heart for the future. He is stirring things in my heart I don’t understand and don’t know how to put into words yet. My heart is breaking for things it never used too. I long and ‘weep as a man, longing for his Home’. I see God working and moving pieces in my heart but not how they connect.

Some days I feel on the outside looking in – it’s as if I’m reading the full story of my own life as it is being written, while other days I’m acutely aware of only the one or two words in front of me. My life is a paradox– in some areas I have a sense of knowing or glimpsing part of what the end will be – where He is leading me but with no idea how I’m going to get there. In other areas I just have no clue at all. There I can only see the cornerstones of the “so that” bridge in front of me – while also knowing that all the stones and pieces probably aren’t there yet to complete the bridge. 

But here’s the hope: the bridge will be made complete. The Lord’s teaching me that the “so that” in this life has a reason and purpose.  I’m very much in a season of the “so”. I don’t have a “that” to go with it yet – but I will. The Lord never leaves a job half done and if we let Him, He will “complete the good work He began in us.

Interesting thing though, the “good work” or the “so that” bridge the Lord is working in us is twofold. The Lord does things so that we may grow, learn and benefit from them but it never stops there. He also does it for benefit of others whose lives we will touch. Purposefully or inadvertently, the lessons we learn affect others if we live them out.

Take Abraham.  He is the very picture of faithfulness, one of the fore fathers and part of the lineage of Christ. His “so that” story is incredible.  His faith was accredited to him for righteousness. God was faithful to Abraham by fulfilling (completing) His promise to him by giving him Isaac.  But it doesn’t end there! Abraham’s lessons weren’t just for himself. Romans 4 tells us:
“Therefore the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring – not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham… [that] ‘it was credited to him [for righteousness]’ were not written for him [Abraham] alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness – for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.” [my emphasis]
Faithfulness and believing/trusting when we don’t see where life is going was a lesson for Abraham but also for us.

I love that Abraham didn’t know where his “so that” story was going or even what it was bridging (try oodles of generations! Now that’s quite a bridge!).  Hebrews 11:8 says “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” Abraham saw God working in his life too and didn’t understand what God was doing and how he was going to get to the end (the land and Isaac) yet he obeyed anyway. Wow. I want to be like that!

The further I read in Hebrews 11 the more I realized almost all of the heroes of the faith had “so that” stories. Stories God used for them but also for all of us. They too longed for Home: “For he [Abraham] was looking forward to a city with foundations, whose architect and builder was God.” And “All these people were still living by faith when they died.”

In my finite mind, I look at all these stories (please go read all of Hebrews 11!) and think that all of their “so that” stories are complete.  David became king, Abraham had Isaac, Elisha saw God, Moses was rescued in the rushes and saved Israel, Raeahab let down the spies and lived, and so on. All these men and women saw God or part of His plan -in part. Scripture says they were still living by faith when they died and didn’t see the completion. This blows my mind. Why? God met them – that’s complete right?

It would be if it was only about us. But God’s been showing me it’s not. He doesn’t just move or act for the individual or us. As a friend put it, we almost have an entitled view of God.  As in He ‘owes us’ because it’s all about us, all about me, all about you as the individual. Wrong!

Sure, God comes through for me, but it’s not about me. His plan is all encompassing and so much broader than me, than even the heroes of old! Look how the faith chapter ends.
“These [all the old testament faith examples or “so that” stories] were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect”. 
Only together with us would they be made perfect. Wow. Think about that one for a minute. God is serious about unity and oneness, fellowship. Oneness with Himself and with other believers. We aren’t ever meant to do this life alone. Your lessons and actions will effect generations. What excitement! What responsibility!!

As Romans and Hebrews talk about faithfulness, righteousness, and lessons connecting us together – 2 Corinthians 1 says the same thing about suffering and comfort.
“For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”
We are in this together. His purpose is for us but also beyond us to others.

So as I wrestle and my heartbreaks and I sense Him move – I realize He’s just writing my “so that” story. Building a bridge that will connect me to other believers. And whether I want it to or not, the good and bad in my life will affect you. Yours will affect mine. He is Lord of us all.

Next time you get discouraged about the future or not understanding what God is doing, remember Abraham walked it too, yet – he believed God and it was accredited to him for righteousness. It will be for us too. He who promised is faithful and He is working out a lot more in us than our current comfort or happiness. So learn well. Your “so that” bridge is going somewhere!

When I look back in a few years I know I won’t see the full picture or bridge (and won’t until eternity) but I do pray that I will have built my portion of that bridge in faithfulness to Him, in such a way that others may walk across it and learn from me as well. How about you? How are you building? 

Kite Strings

The very things that tie us down give us the freedom to soar like kite strings.  They are balance and tension between the concepts of life and reality.

Dreams. Visions. Goals - God driven ambition. Lofty ideas, concepts and philosophies that soar right into and from the gates of Heaven - slam into balance - painful. Hard. The day in and day out reality of character forming drudgery. Patience and waiting. Endurance. Growth. – The kite strings of the minute-by-minute details that allow for and are the working out of the dreams into realities.

Gender. Identity. Made equal and in the image of God. Masculinity. Femininity. Uniqueness. Distinctly different and beautiful. Created to need and be needed by the other – slams into - different roles and purposes.  Boundaries. Thought processes. Communication styles. Physical differences. The perfect balance is found in the kite strings of the tension between the two genders. Embracing, honoring, upholding and loving the very limitations in each gender is one and the same with that which makes each of us able to be free. Accepting the limitations and the freedoms that come with each gender.

 Spirit. Holy. Awesome. Comforter. Helper. Discernment. Wisdom. The forgotten and tangible part of the Trinitarian Godhead – slams into – fear. Human, sinful nature comes face to face with the Convictor. A power we can’t understand or control but need. The Holy Spirit is the balance between knowledge of God and knowing God. Between loving the gifts and the Giver of the gifts. He is the kite strings of balance and tension between standards and liberty, laws and freedom, truth and love.

Kite strings are a bit like perspective or perception. They guide us and steer us in the right direction. At first they appear to hinder or control, but really they are the very things that give us the power and ability to experience the fullness of life, of joy and peace. The irony of life – that in the tension is really the perfect balance.

-unedited and from the heart this week.

Painful Growth

Grow. Equally synonyms with growth in my mind is pain. I’ve never grown without pain. It’s either a painful circumstance that humbles me and I grow from it, or it’s the pain of dying to self as I grow closer into the likeness of Christ. I have a lot of pain left to experience! The thing with painful growth lessons is you remember them. The clique “No pain, no gain” is even more true in the spiritual realm than it is the physical.

A close girlfriend once told me she thought I was addicted to pain. I laughed but since have realized it’s true. I’m addicted to pain, to growth. Why? Because that is where Christ is! Katie Davis sums it up well:
"I realize that the hard places are good because it is there that I gained more wisdom, & though with wisdom comes sorrow on the other side of sorrow is joy. And a funny thing happens when I realize this: I want to go to the hard place again. Again and again and again."
 Growth. Pain. Joy.

Do you shy from the hard places? From the pain that comes with growth? An other friend joked that he wished he could invent spiritual growth painkillers. Again I laughed, but then – should we take them? Wouldn’t we miss the growth that comes only through the pain?

I don’t like pain, but at the same time is missing out on the blessing of the intense fellowship with Christ that comes through the pain worth the temporary fix of the ‘pain killers’ we like to use?
Lewis writes on through the tough painful growth things in the Last Battle and says
“I almost wish–no I don’t, though,” said Jill. “What were you going to say?” “I was going to say I wished we’d never come. But I don’t, I don’t, I don’t. Even if we are killed, I’d rather be killed fighting for Narnia than grow old and stupid at home... and then die in the end just the same.”

Is growth worth the pain? Worth the risk? Do you, do I, like the way I am enough now to stay this way? To miss the adventure? I’ve come to realize it’s worth the pain to grow. Embrace pain for He is there in it – I’ve found Him– in a way that is more real than you can imagine. Grow.

5 Minute Friday Prompt. Word – Grow. 5 minutes of unedited writing simply for the joy of it! Come join the fun and link up your blog at The Gypsy Momma.

No Expectations

We all plan against it. Fear it. The unexpected, unknown, and most often the unwelcome. But yet isn’t that life? The most meticulous planner can’t control the unexpected in life as much as they try. If they could it wouldn’t be unexpected.

What if we embraced the unexpected instead of fearing it? Embraced a philosophy of no expectations? I’m not saying no standards to hold people too – God knows where our society is because of that, but no expectations on the Lord, and the ones we love and how we love? No one can meet all of our expectations and so we constantly battle a little disappointment and frustration even if it is subconscious. We want what we want, when we want it, and we want to control it. We want the Lord to move, but we want it our way.

How much more joy and gratitude would we have for the Lord and life if we just let the Lord work? Expect the unexpected with God. Expect Him to move, but not how He should move? Let go of the futile control and embrace adventure. We’re on this ride of life whether or not we want to be, so stop fighting and start enjoying!

Loving with no expectations is what Christ did and it’s there in that love that the unexpected happens. Instead we love people with preconceived biases of how they are going to act and we try to tell the Lord how to move in our lives.

Lets live a day with no expectations and see what freedom the unexpected brings!

5 Minute Friday Prompt. Word – Unexpected
. 5 minutes of unedited writing simply for the joy of it! Come join the fun and link up your blog at The Gypsy Momma.
Thanks to Jolyn for teaching me about the unexpected. :)

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I'm a fun loving, people person, with a passion for ministry and the Lord. My greatest desire is to see people come to realize who they are in Christ and how that effects every area of their relationships and lives.I want to know Him more.