is not the word
but for the trials
that make me understand it.
is not the word
but for the trials
that make me understand it.
What does a good desire, a right desire look like? Well, sometimes I’m really not sure I could say.
Is it what makes us happy? You could say that. Is it what moves us to become more of the person we are supposed to be? I’m confident that it is. Is it something that we can share with other people — to make their lives better? Most likely.
All of our desires are the parts of us that show us our greatest strengths and our greatest weaknesses at the same time. Sin is not in our desires, but in how we act upon them. They will either be executed in such a way as to bring us more into submission to Christ, or to seek to subvert His just rule in our lives.
Have you ever been in a position of discipline? Would you describe yourself as a pro-disciplinarian, or a free-development proponent? Do these perspectives reflect what you expect of and for yourself? Are you willing to receive discipline yourself, or have you decided long ago that you will have none of it?
Perhaps you see no use for it. “Discipline does not do anything for a person but depress his spirit or diminish his creativity,” you might say. But, maybe if the purposes of discipline were clear, its worth would be more easily conceivable. Discipline serves a greater purpose than the immediate can always fully showcase. Yet, its impact cannot be denied. Discipline is useful because it deals with the heart at its core, not being satisfied unless it is set right. Discipline must always take for granted the fact that the heart is not inherently good or right. Wrong actions are the result of a wrong heart and not a wrong situation or wrong influences.
Therefore various forms of correction are employed for the sake of adjusting the heart. Yet, we do not expect mere disciplinary measures, as imperfect as they are when administered by human intelligence, to change a heart. The primary role of these pressures or punishments are designed to facilitate transformation. Certain codes of conduct or attempts to constrict an individual will produce certain behaviors according to their relative severity. But, in the absence of these particular judgments, how will the natural rhythms of the human heart manifest themselves? If discipline cannot open us up to more, we will come out of these rule-regimes, as one might like to call them, and be unchanged.
Truly the only benefit of embracing disciple — whether we are engaged in administering it or receiving it — is in receiving the action of the Holy Spirit. This makes sense because we cannot trust anything else to correct or recreate our unsavory orientations. Without this avenue for the Holy Spirit we could not be convicted of our sin and presented with the Way to turn from it. The end of every act of His chastisement is nothing less than a heart that agrees with God.
If this gain sounds more like the work of manipulation than a gracious gift than, lets consider what we have here. We each are in our best form when our hearts are right. Our hearts cannot be right if they are characterized by selfishness, rebellion against God, or pride. Because these things are so integrated into our personalities, every nuance must be meticulously routed out for us to live in harmony with God and man.
Thus we cannot rely on our own responses to what He does with us or how He does it. The feelings that rise up within us while we are being corrected and challenged are contrary to His intentions. This is where faith comes in. We must believe that God’s heart is more abundant towards us than our own is, even when we do not understand all that He has in mind for us. When this kind of trust takes root even when we are in the midst of personal adversity, we will not be separated from the deepest joys of the human experience that God created for us in Christ.
God’s discipline will often be harder than we think it has to be. But, we must realize that this is the most clear evidence we have that everything God is doing with us is accomplishing exactly what it is supposed to be: Our sin is being revealed and our hearts are being turned back to Him in repentance and reconciliation.
Lets save ourselves the trouble of trying to determine how God should discipline us. Since we are the ones in the wrong, we cannot expect the One in the right to be anything that we would readily affirm. We must submit ourselves to a continuous process of His washing and regenerating of our hearts. Regardless of whether God should see fit to walk with you through one long trial, or pepper your days with an odd assortment of smaller ones, be encouraged that He knows what He is doing. Your heart and all the requirements for righteous-reformation that it presents to your Savior are never dismissed or incorrectly targeted.
He understands that your godlessness and distrust of His ways are too subliminal for you to appreciate unless He lets you see what He sees. Thus, don’t be surprised when He guides a barrage of unfamiliar afflictions to display this distrust in layer after layer of your heart.
You may have been through trials that have brought you closer to God, but yet you still doubt that going through another one could do anything but ruin you. You have gotten to the point where you feel like you trust God in the troubles you’re in now, but you would have great difficulty in transferring that confidence to a new trial. But we should not expect God’s discipline to look the same every time. In each trial He will work on our hearts very specifically, always building on the work He has already done, that He might progressively impress upon our hearts just how much we have need of His salvation. He may use the least likely means to affect His will, yet (is it possible?) that He knows our faith is lacking in divinely inspired imagination? You have faith in Him because of what He has already done in your life, but you remain uncomfortable with any methods He may unveil with which you have not had previous experience.
Yet, what if our Redeemers plans for us are too wide-spread for us to see until we give all our small expectations of Him over to Him that He may widen and deepen them? Can we not comprehend that He should set up His work in our lives to accomplish more than a single measure of correction? Can He do more than we can and be worshiped for it?
If you are having trouble constantly finding fault with the paths God’s sovereignty is taking in your life — or your mess, as it may seem — take this to heart: We cannot expect God to do what is contrary to His law just for the sake of wrapping up our problems. If we want healing, we must be willing to allow Him to do the work He has to do in us (or our loved ones) to first heal our breach with Him. Our human difficulties and the absence of wholeness in us always stems from being removed from God. We must come to Him, letting our hearts be reconciled to Him, before we can know any of these things that we seek. Once we have grown in the knowledge of Him to some significant degree we will be able to trust Him enough to freely permit all of His righteousness to work upon us, even in cutting away and suturing our sin-wounded hearts.
I don’t know why I didn’t realize until now that perfectionism was such a pride thing. But, when a sin so consumes me like that, it will naturally keep me from recognizing anything that is apart from sin — anything that is holy.
When I make a sin like pride my shelter I need no other. And being so confident that this is the only place for me, I will behave defensively toward anything that threatens my position and respectability in remaining there in that hiding place. When this is how I carry out my life, how can I be surprised that the ways of God should regularly seem to be against me?
Do any of us truly know how to be real? Real as in who we are, able to stand for what we believe is absolutely true, willing to die to compulsion to blend in with others at all costs?
I think it is possible to be like this, think like this, live like this, and — incredibly — inspire others to also stand for something too. But, I think it is something very few of us have the vision or encouragement to do so.
I think we could be strong, we could stand up and stand out, and set our wills to be true to something that is head-and-shoulders-above our peers. But, first you must ask yourself the question, What do I believe?
Considering what you believe is imperative deciding what you will live for and who you will become. Perhaps you find that what you believe is not something you want to build you life upon — whether there are not enough absolutes that you are depending on or they are not consistent with the kind of life you want to lead.
It is also possible that you are just fine with your life and how it mirrors the world you live in, or the culture you’re apart of — even if this is the case, I would encourage you to evaluate lifestyle thesis, objectively assessing its positive and negative implications for yourself and the world around you. This is a useful exercise, if for no other reason than that you may more thoroughly identify your niche in this way of life — how you can most positively affect the people around you, and grow yourself according to the principles you have chosen.
Evaluating these things can be a little scary at first. I say this because confronting the truth will naturally put us all on edge to a certain degree, but searching for the truth will also prove to be the most liberating experience of you life — provided you’re willing to forsake whatever lies the truth presents to you.
It is no coincidence that the phrase “the truth shall set you free” continues to be repeated to this day. We live in a world that makes it’s living on lies, yet what it doesn’t advertise is that it must take us down to accomplish success.
Our beings were meant to live according to unchanging and uncompromising truth. Lies and incomplete truths are to us what dust and dirt are to an air filter. Both are a natural part of life, yet they are substances that must be looked out for and removed in order to prevent them from blocking air from flowing through and damaging the filter itself. Lies, just like dirt and dust may seem harmless in certain lights, but if we study the effect it has on us our minds and bodies we will recognize the damage it is capable of in its subtlety.
Now, lets get back to our evaluations. What have you come up with? Have you located the lies that are compromising you from being real?
If not, may I suggest consulting an authority on the truth that you might become equipped in spotting any divergence when it comes across your path or arises in your consciousness?
Before you can begin any significant proofing, you need to choose what you will submit to as your authority. To protest such an idea is to display an ignorance of the nature of our behaviors: they are all the result of submission to some set of ideas. The good news is that we get to choose the set of ideas to which we will submit ourselves.
Now, at first it will appear that you have a baffling range of choices, but in the course of any lengthy investigation you will discover that they can all be boiled down to two basic premises.
The first, life is all about us; our troubles on this earth are subject to our potential to readjust our course and arrive at success and paradise — however we may agree to define it.
The second, couldn’t be more different:Life is all about God; our troubles are the direct result of our sin and rebellion against God and the penalty they bring; our only hope to be delivered from the wrath that we deserve from our enemy God is in believing that His Son came to us according to God’s will to take our penalty for us, die in our place, rise again and declare us set right with His Father forever.
In light of the comparison we have just drawn, we either define who we are by a second-hand definition handed down to us from something a world that itself must be defined by something greater, or we are defined in all our states by Someone who defines and refines us.
Now, I’ll admit that the definition the world offers us is certainly more flattering to our ego than God’s definition, but we must ask ourselves again at this point, am I going to live by the truth or a lie?
The misconception here is that if we are not flattered we cannot live an abundant and satisfying life. When, in actuality, we cannot live in harmony unless we at first live in the light of truth.
And the good news here is that the truth doesn’t go bad on us because it doesn’t end with us. It’s objective, instead, is to point us ahead to God. When we know what is real about God, we realize that we are in the midst of a story that we have had no idea was going on; a story that tells us about God’s determined pursuit of us. He ran after us, to clear our record with His blood and adopt us into the family that we belong.
If this isn’t the closest thing we can have of being real, then I don’t know what is!