Needy-one, meet The Needy Meet-er

The lock slips into place with the ping you’ve been anticipating since the last time you were here.
Instinctively, your head falls back and your chest rises–doing all you can to obey the inward demand for oxygen.
The darkness settles on your shoulders, quieting the ache of being so long un-held.
Hushed and waiting, this atmosphere offers privacy in exchange for the secrets you’ve been keeping.
Fear, rejection, the-sense-that-no-one-hears-you are foreign here; you’re too busy meeting the One who’s welcoming the real you.

This started as a description of the moment we slip into seclusion, inviting sin to be our companion for uninhibited expressions of our deepest lusts.
As I typed and retyped, trying to figure out where this sketch was going, God tinkered with my perspective and loosened my hold on the ending.
I began to see that the point in time I was illustrating was not necessarily one that was “fixed” as an instance of compromise. Instead, our encounters with temptation are often preceded by an acute awareness of our deepest needs and the failed conquests we’ve made concerning them.
But it is not as if there are needs we hold inside that may only be fully addressed in the darkness, out of the way of interference from anyone. Our sense of need is, ultimately, designed to invigorate our pursuit of relationship, intimacy and increasing vulnerability.
When we accept an alternative to drawing toward another, we dismiss the very object of our need. It’s true, our fellow men and women often leave us adrift rather than welcoming us aboard the beautiful vessel Fellowship. This is painful, but is it not purposeful? Our hearts look about with renewed expectation–wanting nothing less than to meet the One Who is deeper than all of our needs.

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And you think you can take me down?

So, I was thinking…what does it take for me to feel like my life is full today? What is my weapon against Satan’s assault of envy-laden thoughts? What do I do with them?

Do I think other thoughts, do I attempt to try to tear apart the ones I don’t want ruling my life? I’ve tried the latter many times and I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t work. When we face a temptation, if we want to win, we don’t try to take it down by merely telling ourselves the reasons why we don’t want it.

I don’t know about you, but the reason why I face temptation in that moment is because there is a part of me that does want it. A part that will not back down unless another part of me is made to rise above it.

But how is the God-revering part of you and I capable of rising up and performing a conquest in the face of temptation? It is not. Instead, with our spirits we wait upon the One who gives us life and hope. We count on His faithfulness because we know He has already made the conquest of Satan and our flesh. We have no need of achieving any new victories on our own. Instead, we recognize that His victory spans every fight we will ever face.

And, we use this knowledge as our confidence. It is the one weapon we raise. Yet, how do we raise it? First, we remind ourselves that God is in the temptation with us. So we turn our attention on Him. We do not look to ourselves, counting on our strength to carry us through. Neither do we become discouraged because we believe our weakness must assure us of a loss in this contest.

That is not the case for us who are in Christ. He is our victory. We is the One who makes our weakness a joy because, with a dependence on His strength, we can obtain a greater victory than we could have on our own.

In Him our stubborn sinful nature is put to death, while our frail God-fearing nature is made strong. Therefore, we have nothing to fear in the fight. We have only to position ourselves to receive from God the grace that will carry us through and establish us in His wisdom and power. In this way, God enables us to face temptations so that we will be made more like Himself in the tussle.

The prison that keeps me deceptively comfortable

Belief is the key to knowing and including God in everything you do. Unbelief, whether we realize it or not, is the key to disassociating ourselves from Him.

Unbelief, what is unbelief? Lack of trust? Ignorance of God’s love? Unwillingness to concede that God is who He says He is, and should dictate how we act?

I believe that everyone of these things makes up unbelief — each one has greatly affected how I perceive and participate with God. I believe there is nothing solid other than what I believe and act upon. Yet it shakes me to the core when God rises up to prove that He is unmoving, and I have been wrong about Him.

In so many ways I need Him to be loving and tender yet I don’t want that to come to me in such strength that He commands my attention and demands my response. I would much more easily be satisfied if He were a soft, servile deity who fits loosely around me and my plans. I think He should be like a nice blanket that keeps me warm in winter weather, or a skin that makes me appear richer or more important.

In every case it seems that I don’t believe Him at His Word and action because I want Him to only agree to my word and action. I like what I believe, I don’t like what He wants me to be, therefore I find myself recognizing the unpleasant truth that I don’t like Him as much as I would like to think and say that I do.

Every day my doubts of God present themselves anew to my attention. And every day I have a choice between them and God. One is true, and the other is merely attractive on a temporary basis. One raises me up, and the other pull me down.

God knows that I have these doubts, and He knows that they express my mental and emotional vein at the moment, but He also knows what’s of  more validity than what’s going on inside of me.

Deceit occupies me inherently, but the Truth is always waiting at the door to be invited in. Where He is anything false can no longer stand. He is infinite and what a mistake I make in permitting an inaccuracy to diminishable or reinvent Him in my mind.

When I consider how deep the distortion of God within me resides, it comes as no surprise that I must be instructed in the Truth with a life-obsessed intensity; I cannot distinguish what it means to be alive until I turn from death. My life in Christ depends upon the death-like surrender of my life in sin. The depths of one are closed off to me so long as I cling to my right to search out the depths of another. The Truth will hold me if I choose to leap from the manipulative embrace of self-interested lies when He gives me the chance.

Safe and Sound

“O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
there is no salvation for him in
God.”     –     Psalm 3:1-2

As I read these verses this morning I realized that this is not only David’s cry for help, but mine as well. In fact, it is relative to everyone. All humans have a foe. Even so, when I look at a passage like this, I wonder do I have any “foes”?

I have known Satan is my enemy, but for some reason I suppose his terms of communication are so bold that I will easily apprehend his schemes. I feel confident that I’ll recognize the “roaring lion” when I see him and resist him. It will just be natural and automatic. Right?

 Wrong, I discovered. Yesterday I got to know my adversary a little better, and I learned that my understanding of him is deficient. You see, my foe was not the being for which I had prepared. He was a great force, but not in the way that I expected. He didn’t turn up in the form I had been anticipating. His blatant proposal for sin was missing too. Instead, my faulty perceptions of how he worked provided him the perfect accommodation for his purposes.

He offered me a stimulus that appealed to my emotions. An emotional response would divert me from considering who was truly stimulating me. Pointing to my feelings of discontent, he tugged on an inherent value (personal advantage), and incited me to question God’s character. Once I turned from trusting God, I could only turn to him with that same trusting submission.

I did not perceive the destruction he had drawn me into until I had pursued doubt into anxiety and depression. When I cried out to God for peace, He brought me out of the trap of my feelings, and back to the only foundation I can stand on: His steadfast love. This love is salvation from my foes and my own misdeeds.

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him [Jesus Christ], having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he [God] set aside, nailing it to the cross. He [God] disarmed the [demonic] rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him [Christ]. – Colossians 2:13-15