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Why God’s Love Is Better Than Boys’ Love

Women today, through the explosive impact of highly sexualized messages of romance in the media, have been led to believe that our love-hungry hearts will find ultimate satisfaction in modern Prince Charming. Hardly a twelve-year-old girl exists today that does not secretly believe her worth and value lay in her ability to get a boyfriend and nary a forty-year-old woman has not found herself profoundly disappointed by Prince Charming’s feet of clay.  Yet that same woman continues throughout her life to search for that loving feeling in the ubiquitous romance novel.

I’d like to offer a response through an excerpt from a book by Rebecca Manley Pippert about lifestyle evangelism:

“What drew me to [my man] was my desperate need to be loved.  He does love me, yet it feels like sand being poured through a sieve.  My heart has this unslaked thirst for love that can’t ever seem to be filled,” she said sadly.

“[Girl],” I responded, “romantic love can be real and deep, but only if it is not asked to be what it isn’t.  It is not within [your man’s] power to give you a sense of being and purpose.  No human can fill every inner crevice of our longings.”

“So it’s all a sick joke, right?” she replied.  “Why do we carry such a hunger when it can never be met?  I told him that I thought our love would give ultimate purpose and meaning to my life.  I banked all my need for love in him.  He’s already told me that he feels an unbearable pressure to be all that I need.  And it’s odd, but even knowing that he loves me, my heart is still restless and unfulfilled.  Can this immense wish to be loved ever be gratified?”

“[Girl], your longing for love is very valid.  But human love, for all its wonders, will never be able to handle the immensity of the task.  It can go away or die or fail us at the precise moment we need it most.  And if it is to meet our needs and longings, love must have a base.”

“But what base is there that is big enough and stable enough to build our lives upon?” she asked.

“The only base we can really count on is God’s love.  That’s what Jesus saw in the Samaritan woman.  He recognized a woman who was thirsting for a love that would truly satisfy her and never leave her.  So he directed her toward himself.  Jesus knew that what the soul longs for is a safe home, a place where we are loved and known perfectly – and that can only be found in God.”

[The Girl] sat for a long time, taking in what I had said.  Finally I broke the silence and said, “[Girl], would you like to come home now?  Would you like to ask Christ to come into your life?”

“Yes.  But what do I bring to the equation?”  she asked.

“All you bring to God is your faith and your willingness to let him be at the center of your life…” **

Questions?  Comment below or use the contact page for alternative ways to reach me.  Want to ask Christ to come into your life?  Pray (talk to God) something like this:

“God, I admit that I am a sinner.  I want to put my faith in Jesus Christ, whose death on the cross paid for all my sins.  I believe that you raised him from the dead and that by believing in my heart and confessing with my mouth that Jesus is Lord, I will be saved.  Jesus, save me and be the Lord of my life.  Let me know the love of God for me.  Amen.”

Now go and tell a Christian you know and trust that you have just prayed to become a Christian.  And tell me! May God richly bless you with the knowledge of the width and length and depth and height of the love of Christ which surpasses human understanding that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:18-19).

** Pippert, Rebecca Manley.  Out of the Salt Shaker & into the World: Evangelism as a Way of Life.  Second Edition.  Pages 41-42.  InterVarsity Press.  Downers Grove, Illinois:1999.  First Edition 1979.  Second Edition 1999.

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Posted by on March 13, 2011 in Adventures in Christ

 

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The Sure Thing

Ever wonder why our daily lives seem so, well, daily?  Same stuff, different day.  Same old tired argument, same old bickering, same old knee-jerk reaction.  You look ahead to the years before you and wonder if things will ever change, if you’ll ever change.  And a change of heart comes so ssssssssssssslowly.

Steady as she goes ...

Sometimes I feel trapped by circumstances.  I think I know where I want to go, but it’s taking forever to get there.

I have this great vision of how my life should be.  I should be an in-demand Christian women’s speaker and teacher, traveling to and fro, bringing the light of the Word to a motivated and hungry world.  Wherever I go, ministry happens.  Women are comforted, encouraged, and grow strong in the Lord. People everywhere turn to Christ.   I should have a book or two tucked under my belt and a lively, well-trodden blog through which I interact with scads of other Jesus freaks and true seekers.  I should have my perfect, pretty little house to come home to and wonderful clothes to wear on my slim, trim, healthy, & strong body.  I’d be properly plugged into my local church serving alongside women who love Christ and one of them would be my best friend.    I’d have plenty of time and energy for hiking and reading and just messing around.  All my bills would be paid on time and in-full, especially my credit card.  There would always be more than enough money to go around and I could give furiously and extravagantly.   My family and friends and, well, just everyone, would love me.  My whole being would honor and glorify God all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  Amen.

My real life is nothing like that.  My real life is so daily: making uncomplicated meals for my mom who has Alzheimer’s, helping her dress appropriately at least a few times a day, and generally keeping her entertained so she doesn’t start in with “Where’s the baby?”, “I have to go to work,”or her latest, “It’s time to go home” scenario.  And all the while trying to time everything so she’ll go to bed without a fight that evening.  Arguing with my mom is fruitless.  I’m getting better and better at taming my tongue, but there’s still a lot of habit to break in that domain.  Taking care of my mom is mentally exhausting.  Sometimes I want to tune her out.  I spend a lot of time confessing, but only some of the time actually repenting.  Most of the time, I just want to sit in my recliner all day lazily sipping coffee, reading, writing, and playing on the computer.  There doesn’t seem to be much energy leftover for exercise, get-togethers, and the like.  Of course, this is actually the easy part of caring for my mom.  Things will only get worse as time goes by.  She’ll progressively require greater physical care as more and more of her brain’s ability is usurped by Alzheimer’s.  

That’s when I wonder if this is what my life is all about.  Am I going to spend these years caring for Ma and then just collapse and die afterward never having done the things I want to do?  Is this all the daily bread there is for me?

I cannot know the future, but this I know.  God has called me to this season for purposes of His own.  I have a pretty good idea that these years are essential to the work He is completing in me.  It’s my job to take my eyes off the circumstance and stop asking, “What’s in it for me?”

And that, my friends, is what this season is all about.  It’s an opportunity to obey His call to live for the sake of another.  It’s about humility, considering my mom better than myself.  Not for a crown or reward, but for love of Christ.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!”      -Philippians 2:3-8

These are not wasted days.  This is prime time.  My dream is a nice one, albeit a bit magnified.  But given the choice – and we are, my friends, we are – I choose God’s plan, His dream for me.  What about you?  God’s plan is always so much bigger and better than our limited imagination.  And better yet, it’s a sure thing.

 
 

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God Is Good, Part 2

Continuing on from God Is Good, Part 1: During my second year of seminary, I drove every Sunday afternoon from my home near Seattle to the seminary in Portland, Oregon; every Thursday afternoon I drove back to be with my family.   And every night in between, I rolled out a self-inflating mattress and sleeping bag on the floor of a closet in the big, old-fashioned house that was the girls’ home.  Yes, you read it right – a closet.  It was free; it was perfect.  God is good.

 

Queen Anne's Lace

 

 

And then it happened.

I’d been sleeping in the closet four nights a week for several weeks.  One Sunday I arrived, books and clothes in hand, to find the closet filled, floor to ceiling, with empty cardboard boxes.  Why on earth would they would fill the closet – my closet, as I thought of it – with boxes, leaving no room for me? Why would they do such a thing?  The house was huge – they could have stacked their boxes just about anywhere.  Why fill up the closet when they all knew I slept and studied there?  I felt pretty unwelcome.  I don’t think there could have been a more succinct way to communicate rejection.  All that week my mind simmered with embarrassment, pain, and anxiety.

First there were excuses like, “We have no place else to store our boxes” or “We don’t want to leave them out – it doesn’t look nice.”  I soon discovered, however, that at the heart of this hurtful behavior was sheer resentment on their part that I had been given free accommodation in the same house for which they had each paid a pretty penny.

“Yeah, but I’m sleeping on the floor of a closet” was apparently no excuse.  It was still free housing for me versus expensive housing for them.  At the time, I didn’t fully appreciate their feelings.  All I could think of was my own feelings.  Their actions hurt me deeply and I responded as I always do when hurt.  I got angry.  Really angry.  Burning, churning, spitting mad.

Itt was Thursday and I was driving home.

Late fall in the Northwest means dark skies and rain, lots of rain.  I drove out of Portland into sheets of rain pouring down on my car the long journey home.  I could barely see the cars in front of me.  Semi’s drove past, soaking my windshield over and over, further reducing visibility.  Already tense with anger and anxiety, I started shouting at the truck drivers.  Before I knew it, I was shouting at God.

“What am I supposed to do now, God?  Where can I stay?  They don’t want me and I don’t want them!  You can’t possibly ask me to go back there!  They treated me badly!  I only had the floor of a closet!  It’s not like I had a whole room to myself.   What do you want me to do?  Do you want me to stay in a motel?  How will I pay for that?  What am I supposed to do, God?  What am I supposed to do?

I screamed and yelled and cried all through that long, long drive in the pouring rain. Poor visibility pushed anxiety to the limit.  There I was, crying and shouting out to God, “WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO, GOD?  WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?  WHERE SHOULD I GO?  WHAT SHOULD I DO?”

Suddenly a car pulled in front of me.   My eyes went straight to the only part of it I could see – its back bumper and license plate.  I was screaming and shouting, “WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO, GOD?  WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?” when I read the car’s license plate:

FORGIVE it said.

I fell silent.  God had clearly spoken.  I’d like to say I fell prostrate with grief over my bitter anger (well, maybe not prostrate since I was driving).  I’d like to say that, but in fact, after only a few seconds, I opened my mouth again.

“Forgive them!  Why should I have to be the one to forgive?”

I spent the last hour of the trip home arguing that I didn’t want to forgive and they didn’t deserve it.  I complained about it most of that weekend, yet all the time I knew that God had spoken and there was no getting around it.  Forgiveness was the only recourse.

I thought a lot about what it means to forgive.  It means letting the other person(s) off the hook.  No strings attached.  It means no longer using the incident as a weapon against them.  It means I could not stay angry, fight or ignore them.  I must not gossip, especially in the ignoble guise of a pretend prayer request.  Forgiveness means choosing to actively do good to that person, no holds barred.  This is not mere neutrality, but positively seeking to bless and pray for those involved.  It means confession, repentance, forgiveness, and faith.  More important, it is doing so without any guarantee, expectation, or demand that others do likewise.  It is admitting and accepting the consequences of my part in the conflict.  Most of all, it means obedience to God.

I chose to obey God.

When I returned to seminary the following Sunday afternoon, the first person I saw was a girl from the house.  She saw me and flinched.  Before she could turn tail and run, I walked up, hugged her, and asked for forgiveness, explaining my change of heart.  She met me halfway, apologizing for their harsh maneuver.  By the end of that day, we – all of us – had worked through confession and repentance, and came out of the conflict through forgiveness and faith.  We could appreciate the other’s perspective.  Lastly, we came to a mutual agreement on the matter of the boxes.  The haze of selfishness disappeared and we saw God clearly in our midst.

God is so good.

 

Queen Anne's Lace

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2010 in Adventures in Christ

 

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Making God Happy: Three Essential Steps … Not!

 

Dreamstime image used with permission

The righteous requirements of God were given to His people in Exodus 20:1-17 and are known today as the Ten Commandments.

  1. No idols
  2. No graven images
  3. No taking of the Lord’s name in vain
  4. Keep the Sabbath
  5. Honor your father and mother
  6. No murder
  7. No adultery
  8. No stealing
  9. No false witnessing
  10. No coveting

Written in stone.  Unchanging.  God is holy and so also must His people be.  Selah and amen.

On the whole, it seems fairly simple.  Do and don’t do.  Easy enough. For most people, it’s a dream position, isn’t it?  “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”

Making God Happy: Three Essential Steps To Holiness

  1. Learn the Ten Commandments,
  2. Do and don’t do accordingly;
  3. Reap the results.

Simple!  Nothing complicated here.  So easy a caveman can do it, right?  Let me ask you this: Have you ever lied?  Cheated?  Stole something?  Ever disrespected your parents?  Ever done something they told you not to do?

Sinner!  You’re in good company.  “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  Every one of us is guilty before God.  And you’d better believe that we are reaping the results.  The Israelites had the whole sacrificial system in place to deal with their mistakes.  Whenever they messed up, they just sacrificed an animal or two … or two thousand.  Now, before you starting searching the yellow pages for Animal Sacrifice, think first about the sheer number of bulls, goats, and turtle-doves they actually sacrificed over the ages because of sin.   And yet, “Every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins” (Hebrews 10:11).  What?!

We have all sinned.  No one has completely kept God’s Perfect Ten.  So why bother sacrificing those poor animals if doing so does not take away sins?  As a Christian you are thinking, “Because the wages of sin is death!”  How right you are.  Blood is required for all sin.  “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22).  The constant problem of sin is the reason so many animals were sacrificed.  

But, you say, if sacrificing animals didn’t completely take away sin, what good was it?  “But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.  For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” Even in terrible situations, God can bring out good. Rest assured no Israelite could forget about sin for very long.  The daily blood and guts of an animal sacrificial system was undoubtedly in-your-face to remind them.  The sinful state of their hearts could not be avoided.  They were constantly aware of the discrepancy between their hearts and God’s standard of holiness.

The Law – all those commandments resulting in all those offerings – had a purpose.  The purpose of the Law is to lead us to Christ.  First, the Israelites had to perceive the holiness of God.  Second, they had to recognize their own sinfulness.  Third, they had to come to understand that sinfulness is not merely outward behavior, but a condition of the heart.  It is the same today.  We sin, not because we weren’t paying attention or because of a mistake, but because it is the very condition of our hearts.  We are rotten to the core.  No matter what good we may do or what love we may give, it is always, always infected with the disease of self.  “As it is written:  There is none righteous, no, not one; there is no one who understands; there is none who seeks after God …” (Romans 3:10-11, from Psalm 14:1-3 and Ecclesiastes 7:20).

The law was designed to show us that sin and death have penetrated to the very marrow of our being.  Because the commandments reveal sin, we realize we are sinful.  And no matter how hard we try to clean up our act, we cannot, and in any event it is too late.  Already we have sinned.  Already spiritual death has overcome us.  We have behaved, and continue to behave, according to the dictates of our heart.  Sin is not just a set of behaviors that we sometimes do.   No.  Sin is a heart issue. It is ever-present within us.  “As in water face reflects face, so a man’s heart reveals the man” (Proverbs 27:19). We don’t just sin; we are sinners.  We cannot change this.  We need rescue.  We need salvation.   We need Christ.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). As sinners, our very life is required of us.  Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.  We are truly caught between a rock and a hard place.

But here’s the good news: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).  Only Jesus kept God’s commandments perfectly.  This is why, when Christ willingly gave his life and died on the cross, his death satisfied the righteous requirements of the Law.  The evidence that God’s justice was satisfied in Christ is seen in Christ’s words, “It is finished” (John 19:30).  The result was the resurrection.

When we confess our sin to God, when we believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, our sins are forgiven and we are saved from eternal death.  “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25).  Do you believe this?  Do you?

Are you saved?  Have you availed yourself of the free gift of salvation and forgiveness in Christ?  If so, then ask God to continue to help you to seek His face that holiness would be your heart condition.  If not, please pray in sincerity something like this:

God, I believe you.  I have not kept Your commandments.  I confess that I am a sinner.  I believe that Jesus’ death on the cross fully paid the debt of my sins and that You raised him from the dead.  I place my trust in Jesus who died that I may live forever with You.  Amen.

If you prayed this, please tell someone!  Talk to a Christian friend or pastor.  And email me.  I’d love to pray for you.

 

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2010 in Adventures in Bible Study

 

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If Wishes Were Horses, We’d Be Out Of Debt

I wish I’d known from early on how to properly handle money.  I wished I’d know how to develop a budget and to spend and save accordingly.   I wished I’d had, but I hadn’t.

I remember starting off at 17 in my first apartment with a spanking new checkbook and the assumption that the bank couldn’t know about any checks I might write because they would not be present when I wrote them.  I was very silly in those days.  For a brief moment, I fantasized about all the things I could buy without anyone being the wiser.  I was clueless.  I had no idea that all checks make it back to the bank.  Fortunately, I was wise enough to know that if it were so easy, everyone would be doing it.  Somehow the bank knows.

I remember also the mathematical circumstances of my first student loan.  Having followed the directions on the application to determine the amount of interest over the life of the loan, I immediately convinced myself I was mistaken, math not being my strong suit.  The interest amount was so shockingly high I was sure it couldn’t possibly be allowed.  So I went ahead and borrowed … every semester of every year I was in school.

I wish I’d possessed basic knowledge (and maturity) about credit and interest rates and the horrors of debt collection.  Growing up we never had money so I learned nothing about it except its lack.  We mostly lived in hand-me-downs and shopped for school clothes once a year at places like Jamesway and the Big N (on par with K and Wal-mart).  We never ate out.  Our breakfast cereals were primarily Wheaties or Raisin Bran.  Ma figured they’d last longer if we didn’t like them.  True.   Super Sugar Smacks were a step up and we got them some of the time, but cereals like Trix and Booberry were way out of our league.  When money was especially tight, we ate meals of rice, milk, sugar, and cinnamon.  We should have been grateful that we always had food on the table (remember those starving people in China?), but hey, we were kids and most kids aren’t grateful.

It’s not as though my mom didn’t try to educate us about the value of a dollar.  For a short time I had a nickel allowance.  Eventually, I graduated to a whole quarter, even fifty cents.  That was an exciting time, because we could still buy penny candy at the gas station.  But then Ma couldn’t afford allowances anymore and so we got nothing.  As far back as I can remember, when we kids asked for something that cost money the answer was almost always “No” because as Ma said, “If I do it for one I’ll have to do it for all six.”  There were six kids in our family.  That’s why we never got Booberry – that little box would not have survived six kids chowing down two or three bowlfuls each.

As a teenager, I never went to the mall.  There was no point in doing so.  I didn’t even know that teens hung out there.   Even as a young adult I didn’t care for the mall.  It was too overwhelming.  Everything I saw I wanted, yet I could afford nothing.  It seemed like everyone in the world was there buying things except me.  Why did they have money and not me?  After college, I had money in my pocket for the first time.  The mall became a fun place.  Shopping made me feel happy and hopeful, like I could become that person I always dreamt of being.  The self-confident, popular people I met all dressed stylishly and went places and did things that cost money.  I wanted to live like them, be like them.  It appeared as though money could and did bring love and good times and I wanted it.  Oh, how I wanted it.  So I spent every available penny I had on buying a little chunk of that heaven.  Even though I paid my bills paid on-time, I saved nothing, but spent it all.  And then I discovered the wonderful world of credit.  The more money I made, the more I spent.  It was never enough.  Eventually it all landed on the card.  And what a ride it was!  Month after month I paid the minimum amount without understanding what that meant.  By the time I learned the truth about credit, the habit was firmly entrenched and my debt was in the thousands.

After getting saved, I began to learn about God’s perspective on money and debt through many avenues such as Bible study, Christian Financial Concepts, and a wide variety of secular money management lessons.  Yet even with education, debt does not disappear magically.  I learned a lot over the years, but practiced little.  Budgeting gave me a great deal of hope until some unanticipated bill messed it up and I had to rob Peter to pay Paul.  Getting back on track was nearly impossible because unexpected bills came in the mail on a fairly regular basis.  If I’d not had credit card debt, I could have paid these bills immediately and without difficulty.  If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

“Will not your debtors suddenly arise? Will they not wake up and make you tremble? Then you will become their victim” (Habbakkuk 2:7).

I’ve struggled with consumer debt most of my life.  Even though I’ve tithed since the beginning, practicing self-control has not come so easily.  Letting go of greed and gluttony is far easier said than done.  Our culture waxes on self-indulgence, indeed our very economy is based on it.  I wanted what I wanted when I wanted it.  I certainly did not want to deny myself.  You know what really stinks about it all?  God enabled me several times in those years to completely pay off my credit cards only to find me a year or two later, to my shame, even more deeply in debt.  Isn’t that pathetic?

A few years ago, I paid off my cards yet again.  Grabbing my scissors, I cut them into pieces, all but one, that ridiculously ill-named “emergency credit card”.   There has never been an emergency for which it was required, but I am, once again, thousands of dollars in debt.  This time, however, I’m certain I’ve learned my lesson.  Actually, I learnt it years ago.  I just didn’t follow its advice.

But I’ve been praying for God’s help.  I have confessed my sin of greed, self-indulgence, and a total lack of discipline and self-control.  I’m repenting.  It has been 2 months since I last pulled that emergency card out of my wallet.  Today, I put it through the shredder.

I want to live free, not only of consumer debt, but of the mold and shape and size the world says I must be in order to be accepted.  My significance is in God.  I am a Christian; the world will never accept me.  Selah.

But God says I am His beloved and He is mine.   He tells me to not worry for He will provide for me (Matthew 6:25-34) .  I have fixed my eyes on Jesus and am running the race in such a way as to get the true prize, a crown that will last forever (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).

What about you?  Where do you go when you are sad, bored, lonely, or hurting?  Do you, like so many of us, spend money to feel better about yourself?  I’ve heard it said that the way we handle money speaks volumes about our spiritual maturity.  Feeling convicted?  Get help.  Go to God in prayer.  Confess and repent.  Determine in your heart to walk that way no longer.  And may the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

I have decided to follow Jesus.  I have decided to follow Jesus.  I have decided to follow Jesus.   No turning back, no turning back.

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2010 in Adventures in Christ

 

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Rock Steady

Rock steady.  More than anything, I would like to be rock steady.  I want an undivided heart, wholly and consistently focused on Christ, seeking and doing His will.

and that rock is Christ

Proverbs 14:12  “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

Too often I find my dreams and desires divided from the will of God.  What seems a great idea to me is often just a thinly disguised opportunity to seek glory for myself, to make myself significant in the eyes of others.  This disloyal heart persists in equating value with worthiness.  If only I could convince others of my worthiness, they would value my words, and everything would work out beautifully.  The kingdom of God would never tire of me.

This time it seems as though I’ve made it.  All is triumph; they love me.  I’m popular, accepted by the in-crowd of the brethren.  They want to hear what I have to say.  They want to learn from me and follow me.  They respect, even admire me.  I’m on the top of world looking down on the huddled masses yearning to be free.  I feel great.

And then all of a sudden, before I can holler Eureka!, something happens and it all comes tumbling down.  Somehow, somewhere, my foot slipped and I’m falling, falling, falling.  The crowd failed to respond to my great idea as I thought they ought.  Just a little chink in the armor of my confidence.  But since my confidence was based on my supposed worthiness, that chink tears open my armor and I’m left completely vulnerable to the onslaught of the enemy who has no mercy.  Before I even realize what has happened, I’m a mass of nerves, misgivings, and self-berating.  It’s like air being let out of a balloon.  What’s left is a muddled scrap of confusion and depression.  This great idea didn’t work out because I’m an idiot.  I’m stupid and a fool to think God would ever use me in such a way.  Me, a leader?  I’m just not good enough.  I never was (and here ticks away a long list of past failures).  You get the picture.  Sound familiar?

Jeremiah 17:9  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?”

That is one side of my divided heart.  It only pretends to fight vanity.  Depression, as far as I can tell, is merely a culturally acceptable form of rage.  I’m in the depths of self-pity, not because my intrinsic value is in question, but because my pride is hurt.  I want to lash out at others because they failed to adore me.  I had wanted to be great in their eyes.   After all, it feels good to be admired.  But God will not allow us to use Him to satisfy the demands of vanity and pride.  He will not allow us to mistake our value with worthiness because He knows we are not worthy.  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  God says we are to confess our sins, that is, agree with God.  So long as I blame others and wallow in self-pity, I am not confessing this anger to be sin.  Although I mask it with feelings of hurt bewilderment, it is really unholy rage.  At its core is the demand that others give us that which is only to be accorded to God, that is, worship.

I cannot slay the dragon of pride, therefore I hide behind a show of false humility.  But in the end, truth always shows.  The audience is, thankfully, fickle.  A thin waft of pride’s scent and they turn away.   There is no justification for loyalty here.  Yet pride raises its ugly head anyway, and roars in anger, “How dare they not love and worship me!”  The other side of my heart responds, “Why should they?  Their loyalty is to God, as it should be!”

One might consider the issue solved.  It is proved to be pride, and every good Christian knows pride to be at the heart of sin.  I see it is pride.  But labeling it is not enough.  One must turn away from sin.  Therein lies the difficulty.  It is not as easy as it seems.  Knowing oneself to be prideful is not the same thing as letting go of said pride.  Instead, the enraged division of my heart merely turns the blame to God saying, “It’s Your fault, God.  I was only trying to carry out your will.  I’ve prayed and prayed.  You should have done something.”

Even so, pride is already defeated.  It is impossible to fight against God and win.  He’s always, always right.  And deep inside, I know it very well.

Last night, God listened to my ranting and raving.  I heard Him saying, “There, there.”  He knew I was too tired to listen well.  In His infinite mercy, God let me sleep on it.  And instead of abandoning me in my hour of angry pride, He stayed the night with me, working deep within my heart into the wee hours of the morning until finally, I awoke, ready to listen.

Psalm 86:11  “Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”

This morning I sat down to write.  I wanted to pour forth all my unhappiness and disappointment.  What I wrote was what you are reading.  A confession of pride.  A story of repentance made possible by a new heart.  God said, “I will give you a new heart” (Ezekiel 36:26).  This heart is malleable.  This heart loves God and longs for holiness.  It is willing to be molded into the image of Christ.  This heart is undivided.  Today I recognized the truth about myself and agreed with God.  This day I turned from pride to humility in seeing myself just as I am.  I am the now and the not yet.  And my value, not my worthiness, is infinite because of Christ in me.  I am loved simply because I am His.  This is wisdom: to agree with God.  I think I’ll be wise today.

 

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