Monday, July 28, 2008

Audience of One...

Who are you performing for today?

Are you performing for yourself, to meet your expectations? Are you performing for your spouse or kids, being who they want you to be? How about for your friends? Co-workers? People at church? Your neighbor?

Are you trying to look like you have it all together? That your life is perfect, married to the perfect husband with the perfect kids… no matter that you are crabby and cross with your husband when he comes home and you give him the cold shoulder the rest of the night, or that you yelled and picked at the kids all day, just because they were getting on your nerves, being kids…

Or you are perfectly happy as a single because it frees you up to do all sorts of ministry, and you have great friends, and you are free to make a split second decision to go anywhere do anything because you don’t need to ask anyone else about it… no matter that when you go home alone at the end of the day you are consumed with loneliness (God forbid that anyone knows that) and you really long to have someone to talk to about decisions you make, even simple ones of going to the store or bike riding…

But hey, isn’t there more?

What about the audience of One?
Isn’t God the One who really matters?

I know when I was single, I put on the face for everyone but my closest friend that I was perfectly happy. But many nights I went to bed, sad and hurting, the loneliness deep inside… the longing I to have someone to share my life with.

Now being married, even though it might look to outsiders that our family is perfect, husband and wife seeming perfectly in love with two perfect, beautiful children who behave all the time, and listen and do what they are told…


I have been learning there is nothing that is perfect in this world. And no life is perfect, no matter how much someone wants you to believe it.

There is One who will never let you down.

No matter what you do, no matter what happens to you, no matter how imperfect your life is, God perfectly loves you.

Yes. You. Perfectly loved.

Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

You are saved… He saved you from everything you ever did, and everything you will ever do. He saved you from all that was done to you (even when it doesn’t feel like it) and he will save you from everything that will ever be done to you.

He takes delight in you. That means when he looks down at you, he doesn’t say, ”Hmm, maybe I did make a mistake with that one.” Instead, he looks at you with this glow in his eyes, thrilled to know you inside and out. He rejoices over you, with singing…

That hint of a song you sometimes hear in the air… that’s God. Singing over you.
He can take you in the midst of your anxieties, in the midst of your fear, anger, despair, panic and he can quiet you.

With. His. Love.

How incredible is that? I mean, really, think about it. God can quiet you, can quiet me with his love. When I feel out of control, when I need help, when I feel desperate, and in pain, and discouraged and fearful… if I look to God, He will quiet me with his love.

And isn’t that the whole thing? We need to look to God. We need to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.

If we look to anything else, any other thing or person in our life, to settle us, or satisfy us, it won’t work. We will find that alcohol, sex, food, exercise or lack of, watching TV, reading… anything that is good taken to excess, really doesn’t satisfy in the end.

So many times I have looked to other people to fill the void I have felt. No matter how much I have looked to others for approval, attention or love, it fades when I am alone. I find myself doubting and second guessing that anyone even really cares about me. The thing is, people are fickle. They are imperfect and can fail us. They have failed me, and probably will again. I have failed them as well, even if I don’t know it.

There is always the fear that if I say something wrong, or do something wrong, I will end up alone, ridiculed, pushed away, ignored, hurt or abandoned. Because I can’t be perfect for everyone all of the time. If I am perfect for one person, I won’t be perfect for another, and all I will do is tear myself in two if I try to be something for everyone all the time.

With God, there is no escaping him. He sticks with me. He is the great I AM. He loves me more than I could ever ask or imagine. If I do something wrong, He corrects me, but never leaves me or forsakes me. Nothing I do, or say will turn him from me. He is always pursuing me, wooing my heart. He gives me approval when I do his will, and gently corrects me when I don’t. He longs to fill my empty places, and satisfy me. Nothing in this world can do that.

And that is the thing with God.

No matter how terrible our pasts may have been, no matter how guilty we feel, or how much we think we need to cover up, our Lord is greater than all of that. Psalm 123 talks about choosing to lift up our eyes to God in heaven, looking to him until he shows us mercy. Our help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth (Ps. 121). Nothing else in this world that we could turn to compares to the creator of everything in the world. How can a created thing satisfy and fill the hunger that is placed in all of us for the Creator?

When we think we need to cover up and put on masks for everyone around us; when we feel we need to be what others want us to be… isn’t it freeing to know that all we need to be is us? I mean, really. All God wants is us. He doesn’t want what we think he wants us to be. He just wants us to come as we are. If we seek him, he will answer us; he will deliver us from all our fears. (Ps. 34:4, paraphrase mine)

Did you hear that?

He will deliver us from all our fears… we just need to seek him… and ASK him… And here is the most important part…

“Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” (Ps. 34:5)

We just need to look to him. Focus our gaze upon him. We don’t need to worry about anything others might think about us. God’s opinion is the only one that matters. If we seek him only, we will never be covered with shame. Instead, we will be covered by his grace and forgiveness.

I guess for me, more than anything else, I want to seek God in everything I do. I may not always do what he wants. I may turn to other things the world has to offer. I may find myself turning from God on Saturday night, and on Sunday morning putting on the mask and pretending everything is alright. But what I really want, is to fix my gaze on Jesus and bask in his love. I want to seek only Jesus’ face, to look only to him for approval, acceptance, attention. I want to perform for him only, my audience of One, and to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, my gaze heavenward to feel the warmth of his smile on my face.

May I gaze at Your beauty Lord. May I drink it in and fill my soul with the best food - spiritual food that will fill me completely. Satisfy my soul as with the richest of fare. Help me to continually seek after You rather than the things this world offers, so that I may be able to say, “You are my satisfaction. You fill me up to overflowing. You, Lord, are my all in all, and I need nothing else besides you.” Change my fickle heart to always follow You, rather than turn aside to the things the world has to offer. They are but shadows compared to You. Amen and amen.

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