When Jesus announced that one of the disciples would betray him, each one asked “Is it I?” in turn. This response demonstrated tremendous humility. Each man did not presume that it was outside the realm of reason that they might be at fault. They recognized that they are sinful and prone to leaving the Lord they love. I long to exhibit this response in my own life. I so easily defend myself and refuse to take blame. I place blame on others and hold grudges while claiming to have owned up for my own wrongdoing. If I cannot forgive others, then I have not received forgiveness myself. Not that forgiveness has not been given, but that I refuse to accept it because of my unwillingness to truly repent. I must become overwhelmed with my sin. I must not feel shame for what I have done, but sadness for being a person capable of doing such things. “Against you, you only, have I sinned…” (Psalm 51:4)
Father, my heart is so divided. My bifurcated nature is as split as day and night. The diabolic side is rampant with anger, lust, selfishness and pride. Many people have been hurt by the words and deeds of my flesh. For the sake of your Son, make me whole through the washing of His blood. May I be crucified with Him. May my sinful nature be buried and raised to new life. Save me from myself, for I am a wretched man!
When I present my problems to God, I often come to Him with a set of constraints or possible solutions which I hope He might help me with. Instead of laying everything before Him and letting Him pick up the shards of my life, I treat Him as a tool; a means to my own end. But God does not work according to the plans of man. He has broken me until I had nothing left of myself and restored me to new life in Him! “O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.” (Psalm 30:2)
Last night, a friend of mine asked me in a joking sort of way the following question: “does anyone really know what they want?” Being the over-thinker that I am, I realized that this question is actually rather profound. The passions and desires that we define as wants indicate that we experience a lack of something good. We often define these good things for ourselves, but so often we settle for less than what is best. Ultimately, God is the fulfillment of our every want. Every desire we have is an expression of our need for Him. “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want…”
So often I want things to go a certain way which is far more complicated than what could be. I try to manufacture relationships that are just not meant to be, at least not in the way that I wanted. When I find out that I cannot get what I want, it is easy for be to become discouraged and maybe even upset. Yet God always has something better than what I want. I need to learn to want what is best instead of settling for what I think is best.
God has been teaching me a lot about lament lately. Lament is an expression of desperate discontent with the way things are in relation to how they should be. In order to lament appropriately, I must understand and connect with the heart of God in order that I might know how things should be. I must understand the creator of all things, including myself, and respond with destitution of spirit. Then I can truly pour out my heart to the one who knows me better than myself.
The speaker at the last InterVarsity large group at RIT gave a message that really convicted me. He said that salvation DOES come by work: the work of Christ on the cross. Every attempt that I make to fix myself will ultimately and utterly fail. Any confidence I have in myself will crumble and collapse. The key to victory from sin and anxiety is to hold on to the truth. All other methods will only provide a false security at best. Even now, as I go through a period in my life where I feel as if I have lost my mind entirely, God’s truth remains steadfast. I must stand firm. He is my anchor in this storm.
God has been repeatedly showing me that I am not the one that matters. So often, I tend to defend myself and assert my own righteousness. I am learning to be more teachable and humble, allowing myself to be wrong even when I am fully convinced that I am correct. David exemplified this humility as evident in his personal relationship with God. “From Your presence let my vindication come! Let your eyes behold the right! You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night, you have tested me, and you will find nothing; I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.” (Psalm 17:2-3) In the presence of God Almighty, all that I am is His.
I grew up with a theology that was borderline legalistic; I felt like my value was based on my performance. God is continuously showing me His love for me and inviting me into a deeper relationship with Him. However, because of my history of sticking to the rules, I find it difficult to overcome my struggles through pure resolve. I am learning that there is a difference between forcing myself to do something and surrendering my will to the will of God. At Urbana [a triennial missions conference], I was challenged to go beyond simply making new year’s resolutions and actually allow God to dramatically change my life. This year, I want to lay down my selfishness and fully seek the will of God.
1 If the Lord had not snatched me up — I do declare —
2 if the Lord had not snatched me up when I was lost in my selfishness,
3 then I would have hurt many more hearts when I gave in to my fleshly desires;
4 then I would have blinded myself to the goodness of God, I would have ignored His voice;
5 then I would have built myself a desolate kingdom.
6 Blessed be the Lord, who has not allowed me to remain self-conceited!
7 I have escaped from myself and all of my complications; I have surrendered, and I have escaped!
8 My sufficiency is found in the name of the Lord, who is my portion and my peace.