Getting Real About Discipleship & Anger

Last week, I read something (I think it was from John Piper) to the effect that- "Being someone different when you think no one else is looking is functional atheism.  God is always there."   Transparency.  Authenticity.  No room for duplicity.

And then this week, I read this- about discipleship, and doing the real, day-in, day-out practices of faith that lead to spiritual growth & maturity in Christ.  It's from Dallas Willard:
"But, someone will say, can I not be 'saved'-- that is, get into heaven when I die-- without any of this?  Perhaps you can.  God's goodness is so great, I am sure that He will let you in if He can find any basis at all to do so.  But you might wish to think about what your life amounts to before you did, about what kind of person you are becoming, and about whether you really would be comfortable for eternity in the presence of One whose company you have not found especially desirable for the few hours and days of your earthly existence.  And He is, after all, One who says to you now, 'Follow me!' "

It is such a huge call, to follow Christ.  It is no small thing.  Not a decision made once, in response to an altar call at church camp... not a fire insurance policy.  No, following Christ is a daily thing.
Sometimes so painful, but in that pain, there is growth, and it is good.  Like those old growing pains... oh I remember when I was about 9 or 10 and my legs would have these shooting pains-- they were not pleasant, but they were for my good.  I needed to grow taller; God was stretching out my body so that I might grow into womanhood and have a frame that would support the weight and demands it would need to carry.

Recently, God allowed me to see the extent of my sin-- specifically, He has graciously placed pressures in my life that have revealed my anger.  For many years, this sin lay dormant in my life, and then it slowly crept out as pressures mounted... but in the last year in particular, it has become clear: I have allowed myself to be mastered, enslaved, by anger... and the realization of this has brought me lower than I think I have ever been.

But IT IS FOR MY GOOD that God has brought me low.  He allows these momentary pressures so that He can refine and shape my life.  Just like that orange, He is simply squeezing out of me what is already there.  He is revealing what exists in me.
I am trying to willingly put myself under His hand... to submit to this refining process.  To work with Him, instead of kicking against Him.  This whole week has been a process of looking to Him daily, even moment-by-moment, depending on Him and greatly desiring His guidance (through the Spirit and the Word).

"Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus..." ~Hebrews 12:1-2

Re-reading this book online-- free!-- that I read in college, has proven instructive and fruitful for giving me a biblical foundation for seeking a breakthrough in the fight against the hold of this sin in my life.  Rightly calling it what it is & confessing it with true contrition to those who have been hurt by it has brought it into the light.  And the light is where I long to live.  I want to have my life and heart be on the inside what it is on the outside, and what it is on the outside on the inside.  I want anyone who looks at any thread in my life to see what is in every other thread... a true desire to be like Christ.  To be a person who loves as I am loved, who roots out and fights against the hold of sin, who continually submits myself to this process of being shaped and refined by my Maker, who fights for justice, and encourages everyone to be free in Christ.  To be -truly- free in Christ myself.
Getting real about discipleship means that I have to do the real work of it, daily.  I can not sit back and "let go and let God".  I will welcome this squeezing, and will be real about what pours out of my heart.  Prayerfully, I will refill those squeezed-out places with Christ... with His Word, with His ways, with His Spirit.  With His strength, I will not allow those places to be reclaimed by the stronghold of sin.  By His help, I will work with all my might to be more like Jesus.
I am writing this in a continued effort to be transparent here, and this blog would not be a full picture of my life if I did not deal with my ugly sin in a straightforward way.  This is who I am, but I want to be more like Jesus.  I'm so thankful that He doesn't let me stay ugly, but that He keeps squeezing that ugly right out of me.  And in the process, He makes beautiful things out of us.

http://youtu.be/nJ4yNYY1hHM


Please pray for me.  And please feel free to share what God is doing to refine you.  The longer I live, the more I am convinced that He wants to make beautiful things of all of us, and I want to work with Him to that end.


Images:
Poppy- Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Squeeze- Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

7 comments:

Ruby said...

Jess, this is one thing I wish I did not have in common with you! God has been opening my eyes to my own sin in this area via my children. I've noticed & been greatly bothered lately by the way my children respond to one another...they are quickly irritated, impatient, & angry with each other over every little thing. In my own responses to their behavior I'm sad to say I was no better...snapping at someone in anger & annoyance about their angry response isn't the best way to provoke change, ya know? I've struggled with this before, & I'm sad that I've never gotten to the root! It seems overwhelming to deal with, so I find the only way that works for me is taking it literally one day at a time. Each morning I am trying to give it to God, asking Him to help me not to give in to anger. It is humbling for sure, but like you I want to be more like Jesus in ALL areas of my life. So it's time to do some serious weeding, & with the Lord's help I pray this sin will be uprooted finally.

flyinjuju said...

Thanks for sharing. This post spoke to my heart as the Lord has been refining me this year. I don't have the automatic attitude of thankfulness and praying for the growth that will occur through the tough times, but I am a tad closer and thankful that He is faithful.
Julie

Melinda said...

Oh yes, this. I needed to read this. I tend to be one person when I know my kids are watching. And my frustration and anger with their frustration and anger...it just magnifies the wrong. Thanks, Jess, for this post.

scarp said...

The link to the free book... I only get 12 pages. Is that all there is, or is there a way to read more of the book? I'm really interested by it, especially as I am neither pregnant or nursing for the first time in 4 years and have been trying to take advantage of this season while it lasts to get back in the habit of fasting. Plus,not only am I dealing with anger in my own life, I am watching my husband deal with a couple of tough issues of his own, where he just has not been able to find freedom. All of that to say, I would love to read more of the book...

Jess said...

Yes, scarp- I should've referred to it as a booklet.

Here are a few other links you may find helpful on the subject of fasting:
http://elmertowns.com/books/preview/fast_break/Fasting_For_Spiritual_Breakthrough%5BETowns%5D.PDF

http://www.biblestudy.org/basicart/what-is-fasting-and-why-should-we-do-it.html


(These next 2, I can't attest to the theological excellence of, but I found a few helpful ideas/points within these articles:
http://www.chicagocopts.org/sourcefiles/By%20Pope%20Shenouda/Spiritual%20Exercises%20During%20Fasting.php

http://www.spiritualwarfaredeliverance.com/html/prayer-and-fasting-deliverance.html


I hope these are helpful for you as you try to seize this opportunity for fasting.
~Jess

The Aday Family said...

Jess,

My name is Catherine. I've been following your blog for several years now. I wanted to let you know that you are not alone in this battle against anger. Recently, it has been made painfully clear to me that this is an area in my life and heart in which God wants to change. I was also made very low and humbled but it was for my good. I have been slowly working through it with a wise biblical counselor who has been lovingly and patiently helping me to see my pride, my self-righteousness, my lack of dependence on the gospel, my heart's idols, and basic routines in my life and in the life of my family that need to be cut out in order to for the Gospel to work powerfully in and through me. I am so thankful to begin to have the weight of my sin and my sinful patterns lift off of me and to see God work in my heart in ways I had honestly lost hope.

Two books that have been helpful to me: "Uprooting Anger" by Robert Jones and "Good and Angry" by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller.

Also, Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick was so helpful to me in growing deeper in my understanding of God's grace and love and the gospel.

I need much more Gospel,all the time. It truly is all about Christ and what He has accomplished for us on the cross. It sounds so simple, and it is, but it is so deep, and so complete and thorough. It is the true source of healing.

Anyway, You are not alone. Thanks for sharing with us all.

Sarah Beals said...

Hi Jess,
Have you ever seen the little booklet "Turn Away Wrath" by Rand Hummel? Good stuff in there about dealing with anger.
Blessings,
Sarah