Closer Look

I wanted to look closer at my life, until we (God and I) did. I thought God could only approve of me if I held onto my pride, believing that I was good enough to be okay-ed by Him. But, God didn’t agree. He didn’t have any need for my pride, much less a desire to allow it to hang around.

I, on the other-hand was perfectly fine with that arrangement. I needed my pride — it went with me, it made me, it helped m…Yes, it was just all together necessary to who I am and what I do.

Yet, God was insistent that He didn’t need it. He couldn’t call it an asset because it was so much of a spiritual liability — requiring frequent payments of interest and hefty fees for continued management. He didn’t want that; a lenient treatment of it now would only serve to hurt us both more later.

So, with my best interests at His heart, He suggested surgery. But, not realizing His heart could be so generous to me, and still disagree with my own, I resisted. I do not relish going under the knife. I see it is an act that precedes death, an approach often deemed ill-conceived later.

Yet, I’ve found that God doesn’t see heart-surgery that way at all. It is His hands that operate; and it is sin that He must remove. The transformation in this case is not like cosmetic surgery chosen to improve an already favorable appearance, but an emergency treatment to cut off the threat of harm to other organs and the spread of death.

And He does not deem this as harmless or painless, for He knows what I don’t: to be effectual it must be painful, making me aware of the harm I should otherwise be left to cope with on my own.

So, taking a closer look at me, and what needs to be done, leads to a closer look at Him, the One I need to do it.

Perfect, Please!

I think there is a difference between existing while we put on a show, and living every day as a willing participant of God’ production. God is not so much about how things look, as how things are.

I lived so much of my life concerned with nothing other than making a good impression with everyone (including God) and rejoicing in my own ability to avoid correction or critique. I worked double-time just to negate any reason anyone might have for making anything but a positive judgment about me. Being liked and feeling that I was perfect were my highest priorities.

The term legalistic was something that haunted me. Acknowledging that one word, and all it’s meaning, forced me to call into question all my hidden motivations and desires for holding onto personal perfection. I touted who I was as my saving-grace, and wondered why I was so unable to accept God’s grace.

Truthfully, I didn’t want grace — I wanted recognition and reward for who I was and what benefit I could bring to others on my own. But, the truth that I could not recognize then, and am still in the middle of struggling with now, is that grace is a gift from God that I don’t deserve. It came to release me from the bondage of living for myself, dependent on myself. I can’t live that way; it is an exercise in futility. The only reward I can count on from it is condemnation.

Yes, it’s scary when Christ turns me around to His perspective. I see that all the “righteous” acts that I have done, have not been for anyone’s glory but mine. I have not wanted to be righteous for the sake of being righteous — as I thought — but so that I could have no trouble being perceived righteous. Perfection was a goal not because I loved God and wanted to be like Him, but because I loved men and their praise more than the praise of God. God could think whatever He wanted, as far as I was concerned, but my world would be shattered if the people around me found a problem with me.

So, the whole idea was really a sinly-scheme. I did not love God for His willingness to deal with who I am on the inside, I was merely interested in keeping up my facade, and using His laws to get me there. I thought.

But, isn’t rightness and a fault-less appearance the result of what is on the inside shining forth? The only way we may obtain righteousness in God’s sight is by receiving the righteousness of Christ, who died the death our sin’s required, that we might be accepted by God.

Hold Him to It

So much for having pigeon-holed God pretty well! And pigeon-holed is exactly the word. For so long I believed that God is a willing representative of my fears — always content to pander to their demands. But, all along I was disregarding the fear-less nature of His character. God does not work with fear. He can have no part with it. Where there is fear, there is no God.

Therefore, to go on with God, I am the one that needs to drop the fears and sin-born inhibitions, not Him. What He needs to do is exactly what He’s been doing all along — unmasking the disbelief I harbor behind the fear-lies crippling my heart. Fear disconnect my focus from who God is, forcing me to be more concerned with what I can do in the face of what I can’t control, than what He has already promised to do. I think because He has not dissolved or removed the things that I fear, that He is not able to care for me, but the truth is, to leave the fear within, for the sake of removing the catalyst without, is not love at all. Love, by its very definition casts out fear:

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.

1 John 4:17-18

My brother said something to me tonight that I found very insightful — truth meeting me exactly where I am: “That is so conservative; and God doesn’t play conservative.” We were talking about how I decide what would be best for me, without letting God display the wonders of His heart and its ambitions on a far bigger field.

I think that if God is for me, He must be so much like me in all respects — great and small. But, really thinking about that makes me change my mind. How could I want God to be made in my image, respective of my interests, and limited to my depravity?

I really don’t know how good it is for me that God’s love is perfect! I see Him as binding, rather than completely liberating. But, if I will live by faith enough to hold Him to what He proclaims He is, then none of my objections apply. Ever.

And, do I truly want these belittling complaints, doubts and objections to determine what I know of anything in this life, anyway? If I don’t want it to diminish what I know of the good in life — and I know that God controls every bit of that good — shouldn’t I be willing to let it come to me in the form that is best in His eyes?

May I, without bitter complaining or empty petitioning, receive whatever He chooses to give me with gratefulness and humility. Knowing that in the worst, like the best, He can showcase the essence of His character in the way that would be the most beneficial for all who observe.

Greater Things

That last post reminds me of the Next conference coming up on the Memorial Day weekend, this May. The whole theme is on God and how great and infinite He is. How my imagination needs to be stretched to contemplate these things!

It’s amazing to me how small the things are that my mind runs on in a normal day. I think a me-centered universe is all there is — all there really needs to be. How conceited!

But, this is what I get when I think that going on what I come up with in my so infinitesimally small brain is all the depth of judgment I need. Yet, how real is this for us as men and women? Who are we more aware of then ourselves?

But, greater still, what if the most amazing things about who we are and what we can accomplish would put us in awe of Someone more than we ourselves? What if we could look around and find God at work in us, accomplishing all the good we would far rather take credit for ourselves?

We would not diminish ourselves, but make more of who we are and what we could yet be, because of who Christ is already.