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Monday, January 21, 2013

Spacious Living in an Expansive God Part II

Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!  II Corinthians 6:11-13 (The Message)
Now . . . I don’t want to say God is tricky. Rather, I will say that He is infinitely wise and able to get His message across — even when we don’t want to hear it.
Last month I started this series about II Corinthians 6:11-13. I was so excited. The idea of big, wide open spaces. Freedom like I’ve never known before.  I shared how I’ve felt trapped in my life, in my church and even in my marriage. About how, often, I’d been bound by religiosity, legalism and a list of expectations that God never placed upon me. That sometimes I was even trapped by wrong thinking. I think we all want to be set free from those sorts of prisons.
But as I considered the word spacious further, God began to take me to places that I hadn’t expected. This word is most often used in The Message version of the Bible, which I love. It never fails to breathe new life into the scriptures for me. However, because it’s paraphrased, I find it’s important to use other translations as well. Here’s what I discovered as I pushed my study of the meaning of spacious deeper.
Romans 5:5-8 uses the word spacious. However, it’s also calling us to give up our desires; To live by the spirit. It involves a lot of dying to self. Second Corinthians 5:5-8 includes the word spacious as well. But it seems to be talking about eternity more than earth. There is an inference that the cramped feeling on earth is not so unusual. The way to escape it is by dwelling in the spiritual kingdom and living by faith not by sight.
Hmm . . . this is harder than I anticipated. There’s a lot of work involved. Oh, but it gets more challenging still.
As I delved into the scripture above in Second Corinthians 5:5-8, I discovered that Paul was actually talking about not withholding love and affection, about pouring ourselves out for others. To me this means not putting walls around our hearts. And why do we put up walls? Usually it’s because of past wounds. The walls might involve bitterness and unforgiveness. But they might just be walls created by pain and lack of trust. Not so evil, right? An unwillingness to try again because of the risk of the hurt being repeated. There is a proper time and place for boundaries. However, that unwillingness to trust might be caused by fear. If so, it’s not so innocent after all.
It seems the smallness I’ve been feeling does indeed come from within me. I’ve built walls to protect my heart, and in doing so, I’ve built a prison around myself. I’m scared. I don’t want to risk being wounded again.
No one ever said this Christian walk was easy. I guess right now, God is asking me to tear down walls and take some risks. I don’t know how it’s going to work out. My job is simply to follow His leading and trust Him to see me through, some way, somehow, to good end.
God, give us courage to tear down the walls we’ve built around our hearts. In the end, they only keep us bound. Help us to trust You to be our defender and deliverer rather than seeking our own self-preservation. Guard our hearts, Lord. We place them in Your capable, almighty hands.

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