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.