Why do I need God?

So, You’ve been teaching me I need You
for several years now, Lord.
But I’ve always thought the reason,
what made that true,
was being caught in a life
that was so difficult it demanded You.

But the truth is actually something wholly separate from
anything my life will ever be:
it is a truth about me that has nothing to do with
what I am living with or
what I am living without,
but has everything to do with
Who I am living because of.

Deeper than any truth I can communicate about myself
is the One breathed over me
every moment of my life:
You
need
Me.

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Life, won’t You take me in?

I’m hungry–my soul waits for food. I can’t say that I’m exactly sure what I need, but I do know Who I need it from. If He doesn’t give me what I need, what I get will not be enough. It needs to have His signature, bear the imprint of His character and care. Nothing else will do.

I know, because I’ve received from Him before. I haven’t been left wanting when He cared for me. I have been left wanting more of Him, but I haven’t been left feeling like He didn’t give me enough of anything else. He is the One I want. He is the One I can’t bear to live without.

Yes, I get impatient in the absence of other things. But I grow faint when I’m distant from Him. I don’t need anything to keep me going except Him. But sometimes, even quite often now, the absence of other things makes me run to Him with greater urgency.

I recognize who I’m made for when I need someone else to claim me besides the fleeting ambassadors of my enemy. These things promise my heart happiness and leisure but can substantiate no security for my heart.

I need more than happiness and leisure. I need those things embedded in security. I need a relationship with Someone who provides for all these things but also waits with me through the dull times, and introduces me to wonder-filled arenas of life.

I need all of life to come from One source. I need to know that I can go to Him and receive all that I need. I need to know that He’s there and wants me to come to Him. I want to know that I am made for something more than myself; that I have meaning in relation to Someone else. That I am not alone in this world; as one who’s been left to discover who she is and how to define herself in a broken, vacuous world.

No, I don’t have to languish in such loneliness! Yes, all this hope is out there for me. And if you’re looking for it, it’s there for you too. We don’t have to wait until we know more about life. We have only to call out to Life and ask Him to take us in.

 

It’s impossible to love life without truly loving Life

What is life to you? Is it what you do, what you think, what you imagine for yourself, what you like, what you want, what you are? What if life, as we speak, was outside of you? What if you had never really experienced it yet? What if, until now, you have been existing but never knowing what it means to be full and overflowing with life?

Even with every trapping of happiness about us, life and its possibilities for us can still be a distant reality. So, how can we know if we have it or not? To that question I have a simple answer. There has only been one thing or person in all of mankind’s history that has reached out to him and plainly declared, “I am Life”: His name is Jesus.

So, this is all you need for your self-diagnosis is the answer to this one question, “Have I accepted Life?” If Jesus is alive and well and able to be active within you, then there is no question that you do indeed, have Life. This is not just the run-of-the-mill life that everyone has by virtue of their breath and heartbeat. This is a life of the spirit, of the inner man, of the you-i-est part of you–the part of you that will live forever.

If Jesus is alive within you, the part of you that worships has been awakened to God. You will begin to see Him and to know Him in a way that is vital, a way that was not possible before when you were dead in the sins that separated you from Him. From this point on you will grow in Christ, He who brought God’s call to return to Him. You are now a part of God’s household–a baby now, but you will need to grow up and change in order to grow up into the fullness of the Son who has become our Brother before the Father.

For everything that you lack, don’t make excuses–turn to He who saved you in the midst of your wretchedness. There is nothing about you that is any longer unknown. Come out into the Light–this is He who loves you, desiring that His love fill you and your love be His.

You should envy me the deadly life I live

I’m not much for dying myself, but at times it is necessary. I die because I want life. Alright, let me unpack that for you — I have not lost all my senses; rather I am gaining new appreciation for what can be experienced by them.

I want to be a living sacrifice — a person who is essentially holy and acceptable to God. To be a living sacrifice, I must permit God to acquaint me with death to myself for the purpose of Him unfolding life to God.

I willingly jump into the fires of trials without any life-preserving exterior except Jesus Christ. With Jesus I feel the flame, yet it cannot destroy me; I grow weary from the heat, but I am not consumed; I train my eyes on the light of the flame and do not abide distress over the blackness left behind by it.

I am not living so that I can avoid trials that are necessary for my faith; I am dying so that these trials cannot be deterred in the purpose God has committed to them. I am a person who has escaped from death to life — life that is eternal and incapable of being diminished — so I can embrace whatever trials or discipline mark the stages of this new life. Any part of death that I now face is a pitifully impotent force.

It has lost all power before Christ, and that is why I can go through it with Him. What can separate me from all I need in God? Nothing — but now what was once so fearsome has become the means of displaying God’s conquest in human terms. God knows not death, and because Christ has known it, we shall never more be subject to it but through Him.

We shall enjoy the fullness of God’s life even while our own human and mortally-bounded lives are being tempered by trials. Should we expect to take no thought of dispensing our own lives when we know we shall not have them forever? Can we put it off when we know that according to our need, striving to enjoy more of us impedes receiving more of God?

Remember He who remembered you

Remember the Lord; store up the incidents when mercy was indescribable and you knew that Christ was your life. Build up your spiritual memory bank and God will not go faint to your eyes in times to come.

Don’t run dry on thoughts of the Lord and His goodness to you when you are in a trial. You need examples in which you can supplant your mind in the midst of your struggles to be able to take captive every thought that is against God, bringing it into submission to Christ.

Weak in dreams, strong in reality

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 —

the imaged

reputation

position and

prospects

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.

Life is won or lost today!

To live for God is to be blessed to an extreme that is beyond the measure of anything else. To live for God is to accept His invitation to join the race of life. For our participation on His team — having forsaken our own — He promises to train us to finish well on the way to the victory He has already secured for us in His name.

The steps that I should take have been charted out for me from the beginning of this contest, so I accept the call and strain every day to bring my body and mind into agreement with them. And, as difficult as it is to live for the goals my Trainer has set before me, they enable me to become the dedicated runner I need to be in order to grow more excited as I pass each mile-marker.

I don’t race on confident in the caliber of my own ability, but though I constantly slip up and fall down, I rejoice because He who facilitates my performance is fully able to use all these things to make me more focused and obedient to Him. I do not get anxious in spite of the obstacles that slow me down because they are my helpers in disguise; they remind me that this race is not about me, but every feat I accomplish along the way is not exclusive of my efforts. When I make a mistake, Christ picks me up, dusts me off and reminds me that I rest in His perfection and not my own; I am a winner not because of my medals, but because He has chosen me as His medal.

I race because my spot was purchased for me; I have been given the promise that if I leave the wasted life of sideline-living to take the place selected for me in this challenge and continue to press on despite the obstacles, I will realize the larger purpose in being out on this road and cease worrying over how I do.

Where does this assurance come from? Not cockiness, not foolishness, not self-preparation. I know that the One I run for already finished my race for me that I might now run in the foot-path of His monumental death to self. I owe none of my joy in being on this run to my efforts or successes, but like my Savior, I look beyond the heaviness of these present trials and the fatigue they create in me to the joy before me. When this all ever I will have the awesome privilege of knowing eternity with no separation from my Lord.

I want to win, but everything I once held onto to secure that place I have left behind. I race on, but not for the glory of grabbing whatever I can find and making from it a winning campaign, but I race for the sake of what I already have and what I will have. I race because of what I have found — because I know that God’s greatest treasure of companionship, fulfillment, and peace have already been won for me, and that it will furnish all the power I need to finish my part of this race.
I’m not here to try to win on my own strength, but to showcase the beauty of racing in the stride of the only One who finishes this life-race (the race for our Salvation) to His own acclaim.

I don’t boast because I have won and everyone else has lost, but because Someone else has Won in place of all of our losses — even when acknowledging this includes testifying to my loss. I see myself and all of my fellow racers in the same boat and I rejoice that we are not left in our last positions, but are welcomed to become part of the Star Racer’s line. And I enjoy the winnings all the more in welcoming others into it. He is my reward, and I know it well when I can share Him with others.