by Amy Chumbley
In the past few years I’ve found myself in a different space. I’m not talking about the fact that I’ve lived in several different states or another country, though I have. I’m talking about a much more gracious space in my heart and mind. An enlarged territory I guess you could call it. A space where I’m okay with not knowing all the answers, where there are no “us and others” because there’s room for everyone. A space where questions and uncertainty are the norm and there’s less judgment and more acceptance.
Don’t ask me how I got here because I’m not sure. I guess you could say I was blown. I didn’t ask, at least not directly, for this “blowing.” What I did ask was to know Christ, the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to his death. (Philippians 3:10)
I told a friend this was my prayer, and she warned me it wasn’t safe. “Do you know what you are praying?” she exclaimed.
No. No, I did not.
The only thing I knew was that from somewhere deep inside of me these words poured forth.
“And He huffed and puffed and blew my house down!” The Holy Spirit isn’t the big, bad wolf but He does mercifully destroy our houses of straw in order to lead us to a safe and stable home of bricks! Straw houses don’t last, no matter how much effort goes into building them. They are uncomfortable and temporary at best. They offer an illusion of security but when the storms come they cannot stand. God offers a stable home built with bricks of mercy, grace, love, and hope! A home where rest, nourishment, peace, and joy abound.
But first the house of straw must go…
Huff-– “That I may know Christ…” Jesus facts and Bible knowledge were the “straw” I had used to construct my defective dwelling. No matter how much “straw” I added, it was never enough and I could never rest. My heart was not satisfied, I still yearned for peace and an intimate knowing of Jesus. This deep knowing required humility– an admittance that I could not meet my own needs for comfort, forgiveness, joy, peace, and love no matter how much effort I exerted. He alone is the Source and generous Giver of all good things and I am simply the receiver. To know Christ I had to stop depending on my doing, loosen my grip, and open my hands.
Puff— “…and the power of His resurrection…” Before resurrection, there is death. I didn’t want my cute little house of straw to fall and I didn’t want to die. Yet in my most honest moments, I knew my “house” was inadequate and I wasn’t fully alive. The Law – my attempts to save myself – was killing me but the Spirit promised life and freedom. God asked me to trust He would give me a new and better way to live in this world. A way that required faith in Him and not in myself. I began to understand what Paul meant when he wrote he was crucified with Christ, the ego was dead, and he was no longer living life by the Law as he did before he encountered the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus. He wrote, “The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) Living loved– This is resurrection life! I did nothing to earn this love and I can do nothing to separate me from it either! This is where my heart found a safe home.
Blow— “and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to his death…” Suffer. Death. No thanks. Who would want that? (But I did like the fellowship part.) I wondered, “What made Christ suffer? Wasn’t it seeing His children suffer? When He lived among us didn’t He relieve pain and suffering?” As I prayed to know the fellowship of His sufferings, I found I could no longer be apathetic, sluggish, or blind to the needs around me. The things that broke God’s heart began to break mine and He wanted me to partner with Him in the healing of His wounded children. What a privilege! The joy I longed for was found in laying down my life to carry the burdens of the outcasts, ignored, and hurting!
My friend was right, it was not a safe prayer. He huffed, puffed, and blew my world apart but I’m so glad He did!
In John 3:8 Jesus said, “The wind blows where it wishes. You hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Watch out, the wind may be headed your way.
Amy Chumbley and her husband Eric are both Kentucky natives and have been married 27 years. They have two adult children and two furry ones! They currently live in Germany and enjoy traveling.