Raising Faith (part eleven): Embracing Your Nakedness

Raising Faith (part eleven): Embracing Your Nakedness

Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (2 Corinthians 5:24).

November 2001

He didn’t deserve my stern rebuke. He deserved something, but not the severity of my harsh response. What I should have offered him was some grace amidst a teachable moment. What he received, instead, was a portion of judgment leveled at a heart too tender for the verdict … too innocent for the label.

Why?

Because my nakedness refused God’s dressing. Because my flesh is still so very much in tact.

I don’t recall the specifics of that occasion. I only remember a few words that quickly seared their way into my heart and forced me to my knees in humble apology. It is a message I carry with me, even some three years down the road. Not because I delight in the boast of my sin but rather because I want the lesson from it for always. A lesson intended for my growth; not only as a parent, but as a keeper of God’s truth.

Jadon, young in years and full with a “me first” mentality, was wearing on my already thinned nerves. Me, older in years and still so often filled with a “me first” mentality, responded to his continual fussing by sending him to his room. It must have been a hard send because his response to me was a soft and sorrowful obedience.

With tears rolling down his cheeks as he surrendered to the upstairs climb, he simply turned around for a final glance and spoke these precious words of conviction over my soul:

“Mommy, God sent you here to be our lover.”

I don’t know if it was the tears or his gentle way of his administering God’s truth to me, but regardless of the emotional mixing, his words cut deep and immediately shrouded my heart in heavy conviction.

Guilty as charged, son. Naked and exposed, yet again.

I’ve never forgotten that moment. I think my Father would have it remain firmly entrenched in memory. He used my sin and my son’s broken spirit to teach me a valuable and consecrated lesson about human life and about the responsibility that I bear in loving each one toward his kingdom end. An end that is best served…

through love rather than shame.
through grace rather than judgment.
through mercy rather than punishment.
through selfless rather than selfish.

Oh, the groanings of my flesh! I am naked in my want for the righteous clothing of my God. He’s been dressing me for over forty years now, and still there are moments of raw and real exposure that are mirrored in my body. I am housed within a tent that isn’t well pegged to the ground and that blows wide and open at the whim of a temporal wind.

My life of faith is a literal peep show for the world to observe, and quite honestly, I’m not sure if anyone is coming back for a second look. I’m not sure I want them too. When I can’t love with grace and mercy and selfless intent, I can’t expect a good review. From the world. From my own family. And most importantly, from the perfect Lover of my soul—the God who created my frame with an eternal cloaking in mind.

A dressing that does not include my fleshy imperfections, but rather a perfection that will swallow up the old with the life-giving breath of heaven’s new. Until then, I groan all the more because I know that what awaits me on the other side of this pilgrimage unto death, is a life fully clothed with the righteousness of my salvation.

Flesh living is painful living. There are no short cuts to perfection. God uses the lives of other pilgrims toward that end. The groans of our sacred shaping may come to us through a stranger, a friend, a co-worker, a parent, a spouse, and some days…through the tears and honest words of a child.

God did indeed put me on this earth to be a lover of my children. Period. No matter their wrongs. No matter their mess. No matter their pursuits toward self-interest. I am the one who has been given the sacred privilege of loving them to adulthood. I don’t always do it right, but I always do it real. As it comes, even when God turns the table and allows my young son the sacred privilege of loving me into my adulthood.

If faith is to be raised in this generation, then our nakedness must be embraced—even when it’s humbling and especially when it exposes the truth of a neglected imperfection.

Perhaps this day, you know the groanings of a “yet to be finished” cloaking. I understand, for I am woman who shares your exposure. All of us, every last one of us, are as naked before God and before one another. We might mask it well in the temporary, but as you and I stand before our Father, there is nothing hidden from his view. No portion of our flesh that he cannot see. This truth, alone, is worthy of a few painful utterings.

The greater truth? God sent his Son to be the Lover of our souls. And with Jesus, there is always grace. There is always mercy. And there is always a love rooted in the selfless sacrifice of Calvary’s cross. It is more than enough to lead us all home to our heavenly dwelling where the mortal will, once and for all, be swallowed up by the eternal life that is ours through Jesus Christ our Lord. Thus I pray,

Thank you for loving us perfectly, Father. For sending your Son to his own cloaking of flesh that has enabled us to one day drop this tent in trade for another—an eternal dressing worthy of the streets of gold. Thank you, also, for the sacred shaping that comes to us through our exposure. Give us the grace and the wisdom to receive our teaching, even when it comes to us through a child and forces us to our knees in humble confession. Today, we groan in holy expectation for what is promised to us in our tomorrow. Come quickly, Lord. Even so come. Amen.

Copyright © October 2008 – Elaine Olsen. All rights reserved.

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24 Responses to Raising Faith (part eleven): Embracing Your Nakedness

  1. Oh Elaine, after the week I’m having (make that month I’m having!) I am looking more forward to the day we drop this tent of flesh and find ourselves face to face with Christ, The Risen One. I don’t think I can wait much longer…I need to be Enoch’ed ASAP. lol. Honestly.

    Thank you for reminding me of not only my deep need for Him but also of His deep mercy and grace bestowed on me.

  2. My friend, how this has touched my heart tonight. Not feeling physically at my best today, I spoke quickly and unkindly to my son just a short time ago. My personal pain unleashed causing his heart pain. Almost immediately I wished I had responded with more kindness. Even if he had made a poor decision, my reaction was founded in my own weariness and not his actions.

    God has used your writing here to remind me of His mercy and grace extended so many times a day to me. Oh that I may extend it freely to others and especially to be a “lover” of my son.

    Humbled,
    Joy

  3. “Perhaps this day, you know the groanings of a “yet to be finished” cloaking.”
    I was just speaking of this to someone today…I just want to mold to His shaping.

  4. that’s one of the most precious quotes i have every heard…

    i thank God for the love he bestows on us to share with others, especially our families and the ability to say i’m sorry, ask for forgiveness and deepen our respect and love for one another…

  5. Elaine,
    What a beautiful, beautiful post tonight. As the old saying goes…we often hurt the most, those we love the most. I have been there and like you, have felt that deep regret. As I read your words, I started thinking of the song “Heal the Wound.” Particulary the words…
    “heal the wound, but leave the scar, a reminder of how merciful you are…” He is indeed merciful and our children, forgiving. This has humbled me tonight.

    Blessings, dear friend.
    Tracy

  6. Thank you again for these words and for the reminder of grace. Where would I be without it? I pray that it floods every part of my life, and that my children see it and embrace it because I’ve been a grace giver.

  7. Once again you touch my heart where it needed to be touched. BTW, I have a grandson about the same age as that picture and my daughter told me she had to discipline him harder than she wanted to to protect him and it broke her heart to hear him cry. I can’t imagine how it would feel to have to be reminded how we are to love:)

  8. It’s so hard to think about how my children must see me!
    One of the most sobering verses in the Bible is, “For there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
    What would we do without the precious blood of Christ covering us?

    Thanks for this post.

  9. wifeforthejourney:

    So glad to be able to return from my PC imposed absence (glitch in our AFA Filter at church kept me off the comment page) – I love this post for several reasons. I remember our little boy’s words; hard to believe that happened four years ago! How we need God’s grace in great measure every day.

    Thank you for your honest confession and for highlighting the promise of eternal life.

    Love,
    Billy

  10. Oh, Elaine. I ache as you do–and struggle with the very same struggles–both with myself and with my children. Thank you for softening my heart, and bringing me to tears.

  11. I had a couple of days this week with my youngest son that have not been my shining moments as a mother.

    The best thing I can think of though about the whole experience, is that my son acknowledged and accepted the consequences for what he did wrong, and he got to see me humbly ask for his forgiveness for my wrong way of handling the situation. I also got the joy of witnessing him offer me forgiveness……and he sat in my lap (all 13 years of him) and loved me.

    Sigh.

    I was humbled so much, because he showed me grace like Jesus.

    This journey of motherhood is a tough one, but a mighty blessed one.

    Beautiful thoughts once again, Elaine.

    God Bless,
    Amy:)

  12. Thank you, Jesus, for Your grace. Thank You for Your mercy. Thank You for being the lover of our souls!

  13. Sometimes I feel like wearing a sign that reads: “Under Construction”, or “Danger: Falling Debris”.

    Great post, Elaine!

  14. “…the sacred shaping that comes to us through our exposure”. Priceless words again. It is that thought of Christ of “not My will but Yours Lord”.
    You challenge me spiritually-to look deeper, to think deeper, to be more of what I am in God’s eyes. What a gift you have.

    In His Graces~Pamela

  15. What a beautiful analogy of our nakedness! And, how I pray to be clothed with Christ (reference Galatians 3:27). How I pray for Him to remove my filthy rags (reference Zechariah 3)! How I pray …

  16. Oh my goodness. This was so good!

    Hope you don’t mind if I print for Tiffany. This will do something…I just KNOW it!

  17. 1 Corinthians 1:27
    But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

    How does He do it? “Out of the mouth of babes…” Psalms 8:2

    P.S. It is so precious to read your husband’s comments.

  18. Elaine,

    Your writing style reminds me of some of the writers I have read from the late 1800’s…..so full of such expressive language! I sometimes ask myself…Why can I never think of such descriptive language when I write? But then I remember that we are all gifted differently.

    What an awesome saying your little son came up with! As they say…”Out of the mouths of babes”.

    Your friend in MS,

    Marilyn

  19. oh, Elaine. what a moment of truth. they do that to us, don’t they? reveal our nakedness in their innocence? So powerful, his words to you. Makes me want to go love on my boys. Think I will cast this computer aside and do just that, right now…

  20. I have tears in my eyes.

    Thank you so much for your words. I too long to be continually clothed by our Lord. It is HIS righteousness.

    Thanks for reminding me that I need Him every second of every day to cover me with His wings and His cloak of righteousness.

    Sheryl

  21. Hey Mrs. Elaine:)

    I really am touched by this post. I do want to be able to be sanctified more and more by my Lord to love others as I should; especially if the Lord were to bless me with children. Have a blessed night:)

    katiegfromtennessee

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