Jenga Builders Anonymous

“Hi. I’m Christy, and I build with Jenga blocks.”

“Hi, Christy!”

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If you didn’t get a chance to read my blog post last week, this won’t make any sense. 🙂 Don’t worry! I’ve linked it here God Does Not Care About Your Jenga Blocks so you can catch up.

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Last week I wrote:

“There we are, trying to build our Jenga towers, poking out blocks and stacking them on top, carefully balancing all of the “good things” that we are “supposed” to do, hoping that everyone, God included, is noticing. When everything stacks up, we feel satisfied, proud and accomplished. But when life falls apart, when we lose control, when we screw it all up, we feel guilt and shame. Surely God is disappointed in us…

I’ve got news for you. God does not care about our Jenga blocks! He doesn’t care when we stack them impressively tall and he doesn’t care when they fall over. Because, God isn’t playing Jenga with us. God is playing Hide-n-Seek.”

jenga-1941500_1920My little sister, and best cheerleader, came over for coffee last week. We started talking about the Jenga block analogy and I quickly realized there needed to be a part two! Here’s why: I think there’s a good chance that a lot of you out there are like me…recovering Jenga block builders.

Maybe we have tried playing Hide-n-Seek with Jesus, maybe we even like it. But, we struggle with those Jenga blocks…they are so tempting…they distract us…we see them out of the corner of our eye…just one… I. just. want. to. stack. one!

It’s not worth it, guys! It’s not worth it. Honestly, playing Jenga, living obsessed with outward behavior, is pretty miserable.

Think about it. When we are focused on outward behaviors instead of pursuing a living relationship with Jesus this is what we look like:

  • We are quick to compare ourselves with others and feel good or bad based on the results.
  • We judge other people’s Jenga towers…they aren’t building them right…or at least not like we would.
  • Sometimes, we even feel happy when someone else’s blocks fall. Their failure justifies our issues and distracts from our own wobbling tower.
  • There is a good possibility that we are annoyed by people playing Hide-n-Seek.
  • By the way, “rebelling” by playing dominoes with our Jenga blocks instead of stacking them is still playing with Jenga blocks. We are still missing the fun, and laughter, and closeness of Hide-n-Seek. We are still living focused on outward behavior. (Read An Illusion of Freedom for more on this topic.)

It’s not about our behavior! It’s not success or failure. It’s not about “doing the right or wrong thing”. If this is our focus then we are missing the point! Jesus died so that we could know God. When we know and abide in Jesus, good fruit will follow. But, it’s the fruit of the Spirit, not of our own effort.

This is what I’ve noticed in my own life with Jesus…a frustrating, vicious cycle.

Something happens that pulls me towards Jesus (often something painful) and I start to seek after Him. It’s so beautiful and I love our relationship! But, over the course of time, that seeking becomes second nature…my prayers become more routine…before I know it I’m just going through the motions…I stop seeing and feeling my need…I become numb… Soon I’m building Jenga blocks again, just doing the good things that a good Christian should do. Yuck! Then something else wakes me up and the cycle starts all over again.

I don’t even like playing Jenga! But it comes natural. It feels like I am fighting the way I was wired… Sound familiar? A former Jenga block builder, the apostle Paul, is familiar with this battle.

“I do not understand my own actions. For I do NOT do what I want, but I DO the very thing I hate…I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” Romans 7:15,18″

I’m so grateful that it doesn’t end there! We haven’t been left on our own to figure this out. A couple of verses later we see this hope.

“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God though Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:24-25

The answer is Jesus…The answer is always Jesus! 🙂

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I think we need a support group, Jenga Builders Anonymous! A place that we can come, admit our tendency to perform, and find help to continue seeking after Jesus. We need people who will be honest and say, “Hey! You’ve got a Jenga block in your hand. Put it down. Com’on, we are playing Hide-n-Seek.”

 

Why I love “The Shack” – A Brief Review

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Last Friday night, my husband and I joined a crowd of snuffling, shaking, teary eyed strangers watching The Shack. I  purposefully didn’t wear mascara and brought lots of Kleenex, but halfway through the movie I just gave up and let the tears flow. I’m a crier, and normally I feel a bit self-conscious blubbering in a public theater; but on Friday night, I was just one of the bunch. With my husband silently shaking to my right and an unknown man in his 50’s sobbing to my left, I felt right at home.

What I loved about The Shack:

  • I LOVE that God is not in a box. Watching The Shack forces you to consider your own “god box”. What things do we assume about God that are not actually Biblical? God is SO much MORE than we can ever imagine. It doesn’t hurt us to stretch our minds a little…in fact, it’s good for us. (People who are upset because two parts of the Trinity are portrayed by women need to realize that God is not a man either! There are verses in the Bible that describe both female and male attributes of God. God is not made in our image…we just happen to be made a little like Him!)
  • I love the relationship that exists between the Trinity, their inside jokes, laughter, care, etc. Obviously, we can’t even begin to fathom what that relationship actually looks like, but why not try and imagine?
  • One of the main themes is how much God loves the people He has created. Over and over Papa says, “I am especially fond of _________”. Finally Mac asks, “Is there anyone you aren’t especially fond of?” Papa thinks for a minute and then shakes her head, “No.” I left the theater just so convinced of God’s love for me, real and personal, even in the midst of the failure, sin, and hurt we experience daily in this broken world.
  • God’s involvement in our pain is a difficult subject. Why doesn’t He stop the suffering in this world if He is all-powerful? It’s a hard question to answer, but I thought the way this was handled in the movie was phenomenal. God never loses control and He is always with us, but He does not always cause our pain (although the Bible is pretty clear that sometimes He is behind it)…more of those God-things that blow my mind!

Things to consider when watching/reading The Shack:

  • The Shack is not written as doctrine or theology, it’s more like an allegory or parable. It’s a story that makes some great points. Read or watch it just like that, a story.
  • Obviously you can’t get all your theology about God from a movie or book. Realize that the author’s purpose to is share just a couple of God’s attributes not the sum total of His character.
  • You might not agree with everything you see or read. That’s okay! I don’t agree with all of it, but there are wonderful truths that I have taken away. I don’t see the point in stubbornly rejecting something because it’s not “perfect”.

In conclusion, go see The Shack! It’s absolutely worth it. You will be challenged and encouraged. Just make sure to bring Kleenex, or maybe a small towel. 😉