Isn’t it crazy how what we dream of always falls so short of what God has for us?
I had my life all figured out for myself, I would achieve unprecedented success by attaining my life-long dream of personal perfection. Everything I did would be to impress and lift myself up in the eyes of the world. Then, then, I would love who I was and be confident that my life was not worthless and my being useless. I would live and make the most of everything I had.
Yet, of course, God had other plans — so much wider plans. His plans began with me and who I would be rather than what I would do. If I was not first someone of importance and influence, how could any of the things that I did be considered significant or purposeful?
He had to show me that my value was not a figure subject to detraction based on the outward judgments of a limited world. I am the possessor of life and breath that have come from the Creator Himself. He made me like Him and thus He loves me. Because I am His handiwork and I show off His marvelous fingerprints to the world, I am marked by divine intention and intelligence. I am here for a reason.
Therefore, when the world and its residents reject me as an unfitting or illegitimate member of humanity, they are questioning more than the dignity that God has given me, but the dignity of God Himself, who alone can distribute and support this in each of us.
If God is so closely related to everything that we are because we are like Him, certainly we must recognize that something is evidently wrong with anything of us that exalts God’s opposite in evil and wickedness. Why are these things apart of us, and is it possible for them to be made over into things that reflect the beauty of Christ our King?
The glory of our stories is that God is in them no matter how vile we become; from a great distance He sees everything wrong with us — every evidence that we have chosen our way of sin over His way of love — and yet He runs toward us when we return to Him because His dreams for us never died with the Fall.
Since our original fore-bearers disobeyed God — believing Satan’s lie that they should know good and evil and be like God if they did — we have lived with the horrible reality that our greatest mistake has ripped us apart from the good we once knew and knit us together with the evil that we were never meant to have unity with.
Though sin is certainly a blot on our existence, what we do not realize is that it has totally reoriented us away from the God we were first created to love and serve. Because this is so, we do not recognize what is truly good for us, but reject Jesus Christ because He will not support any of the things we live for now.
All the judgments of God that we make in this position are proportional to us and our ability and not Him and His — thus they are inaccurate, meant to satisfy our system of measurement, but not our need for knowledge and reconciliation to the Most High.
Believe it or not, it is often the surrender of our dreams that makes it possible for us to see reality in a new light, the Light that leads us to the Reality-Shaper. We would normally paint this as unreasonable suffering, yet if we take another look, we may have a chance to see more than we perceived in our first glance.
Suffering, when it is used by God is a positive instrument. This does not mean that is somehow fun, or less painful, but that it is conceived in purpose. We should think of it as a pregnant woman about to give birth. The pressures she feels are necessary — something is growing within her — without the life within her forcing her body to accommodate it by stretching and supporting it, that life would die.
Suffering is like that — it is a difficult blessing, but it trains our eyes on the end that we want. Trying to retain self-supported dreams would be like a new mother trying to retain her pre-baby figure. There is nothing wrong with either of these things — in the right context. If there is nothing else in play here, then we can hold on to what we have had and enjoyed, but if a new life needs to be given space and nourishment to develop within us, then certain changes will need to be applied. If God has plans for you that He has set within you, we must either attend to them to the neglect of anything that should endanger it — as a loving and protective mother would — or we ignore its presence and let it die because we have trained all the life within us towards things outside of us.
The most grievous thing about this — something that few of us realize — is that when life within us dies, we die. Our bodies, minds and hearts are not life in and of themselves, they are merely instruments that support life. These things are to be used by us to hold onto life, not constrict it that they may each have full “freedom.”
When we follow the desires of our bodies, our minds or our hearts, we will become callused and brutal. Aggression will mark all we do. Yet, when we seek Life — what we can only have in Christ — with all the power of our bodies, minds, and hearts brought together, we will obtain the fullness that puts us at rest. Even if we suffer or sacrifice to obtain this fullness of Christ, we will not emerge deficient, but more able to chase after the life we need. We will be matured in such a way that we will know and understand what we need; no longer wasting our time and efforts on what is not really satisfactory to us.
We do not become brutes when we receive our fill from God. Yet, at the same time we do not become weaklings who cannot survive in our world. Weakness is the work of ungodliness within us — a failure to recognize that we are nothing without Christ in a world that is made by Him, for Him and through Him.
Any attempt to pump ourselves up is exposed as measly attempts at disingenuous strength when we stand before Christ. Each inclination we have to this buried deep within our hearts must be dragged out of us until we are supple and able to be filled with the Father’s strength. And it is here that we realize the privilege of possessing and displaying a power only known by the begotten of God.
Power and prestige come from God. When it is at work within us, it stuns the watching world because they have nothing like this. To willingly have ourselves — our sinful selves that do us no good — broken down and left for dead takes a unshakable might that must flow through us from another Source — it could not spring up out of the same broken vessel.
No matter what God does in our lives, we can rejoice because we know what He is doing. We are without holiness, and He is intent on restoring us from our rebellion against Him so that we might become holy. Therefore, it is essential that we don’t mistake bitterness for God-honoring strength. Bitterness, at its root, is always a problem with God and what He is doing. But, when we enjoy God for who He is, our faith grows even in trying times, and we glorify God with a joy that appears stellar in its unlikely surroundings.
When we take these things into consideration, we should come to the point where we would ask ourselves why we should ever expect God to tip-toe around our problem-sensitivities to avoid our flare-ups. We will be glad that He does not, allowing complications in our far-fetched ideas for how our life should proceed, to reveal that He knows our hearts inside and out.
Pride looks almost beautiful (and certainly acceptable) when we label it as sensitivity and self-protection. We do not bother to look further than this into the essence of ourselves. We are at once sensitive to our own comfort and insensitive of the Truth. We cannot accept the reality that we are ugly and poor and beyond the reach of pity unless He who is beautiful and rich and merciful did something to bring the two of us together in an enviable arrangement.
Through every trial and painful reformation of ourselves He is teaching us to wed ourselves to this reality:
This is what I consider beautiful: Every time you set your heart on Me when you could be focused on everything else that is swirling around and inside you, you touch My heart.
This is the crux of really living.
You look at your friends to find out what living looks like, but only I can show you. If anything short of a life fully-focused on Me (and surrendering all of yourself to Me) is what you call “having it all together,” then you really don’t know anything about life.
I am not here to show you the world — anyone around you can, and does, try to do that — I am here to show you everything the world cannot.
“Yet, God,” I ask, “what do I do when giving You this beautiful lee-way in my life turns the life I thought was beautiful upside-down — You call me into a Christ-centered agenda that deletes my precious plans?”
You mourn them —
that you thought you would most certainly have. Only when you do this will you be able to cleave unto Me and love Me above all things; capable then of enjoying and experiencing the full entourage of My blessings for you.