Where did God get that crazy idea from — I can take care of my self!

It can be painful to realize that we need other people. We don’t like having to admit that we don’t have it altogether all by ourselves. Worse, living like we don’t need them and even, we are better off remaining in the exclusive club of “me”, seems to be absolutely necessary in the world we live in. It seems to be unsafe to chance enlarging our boundaries from self-care to mutual-care.

Agh! I’m so afraid of that. What if that other person can’t come through for me? Or more frightening, what if it’s revealed that I am not fully capable of coming through for them?

Is this what relationships are about: being willing to fall on our faces in front of those we’ve committed ourselves to love?

Oh, I’m afraid I really don’t like that! I would rather pretend that love was something else. That it were only good-intentioned feelings when I do not want or know how to act. And that it were solely confined to actions that I could fulfill and feel at ease though my heart were cold.

But, love appears to be neither wholly good-intentioned feelings or wholly actions but rather, both good-intentioned feelings and actions. When I look at the love God talks about I see an onslaught of care and other-centeredness that makes me cry “that’s just not me!” The love He models lays down the self that it might lift up another. It is not an merely an element of who one is, it is supposed to be representative of one’s whole being.

But, the last time I checked, love and I don’t know each other that well (and that was two minutes ago, in case you thought it might be time to check again!). I don’t know what to do with that.

Oh! When I hit that place of desperation, would that I could see that as the whole of the matter on my side, and not just as a plaintive introduction! Unless God teaches me and enfolds me in love, no one is going to know love because of me.

I’m slowly learning to accept the the truth about God’s undefiled love and my defiled self. What a huge grace it is! The more I learn about love, the more I recognize that being filled with and characterized by love must be a grace-dominated thing. There’s just no other way to attempt such a steep assent into His ways!

 

What’s the Issue?

Sometimes our lives can seem painted over with issues. Whether they are big or small does not matter so much as the fact that we notice them. They steal our attention, and maybe even our joy. When we look at our day-to-day existence we do not see grace and an overflow of God’s love, we see everything that is wrong with us and everything around us. The view can get depressing when we cannot see much that we have gotten right. 

It is easy to get used to rating how things appear, but contrary to what we might believe, this is not dealing with anything. What we are doing is dancing around issues. This makes it obvious that we think the issues we are looking at are the issue — the biggest thing we ought to be focused on. To face our woes or complications is not to look at them deeply, or to be bogged down in them morning and night. In so many areas we can feel like we are a case, but if we want to get the sentence, then we need to look to the Judge.

The matters our minds are preoccupied with we cannot fix or even make sense of. Momentary issues are not the issue. The gospel is really the main issue. It attacks each of my issues directly. The gospel reminds me of this central truth: nothing is really supposed to consume my attention but Christ and all that He has done for me. That needs to be my central focus on every occasion, in every wave of doubt or difficulty. Nothing else can save me. Jesus came to make me free from my anxiety through His atonement for my sin on the cross, not to make me feel like it is less real.

Our help comes when we let God put us in the middle of our issues. We must accept that we are not a person with problems that can be isolated into separate issues, but a problem that is called a person. Only when we can admit our dependence on Him will we be able to see the truth about ourselves and then how God fits into our lives. We get His perspective as we look upward, not inward (and certainly not outward!). The issues in our lives and relationships are nothing less than issues of our heart revealed in a format we can see. External realities show us internal realities. Nothing is a greater reality than God and we want what we see to match up with Him, otherwise we are deceived. When we realize that Christ, and He alone, is the issue we need to be focused on, our hearts will follow the Truth and He shall set us free from all the issues that not only grasp our attention, but our understanding.

Issues are the outlet we have to seeing where God fits in our lives. How we respond to our issues will either divert us from, or direct us to, the real issue: Is God really who He says He is, and can He be trusted to handle us and our baggage? Often what holds our attention as an issue we have to fix is not truly what is the problem at that moment. Therefore, because of the vanity of our fleshly understanding and the deceitfulness of our hearts, we need to use the gospel to interpret where the lines of our real problem falls.