Does it qualify by expectation or benefit?

Because I want this, God must also want it. Have you ever caught yourself espousing this? Or maybe, like me, far too many times you have tried this one on for size: Because everyone expects this, it must be central to God’s great agenda for me.

But maybe all these musts and have-tos of our lives are not as essential to our lives as they seem to be to our hearts. Whatever our hearts can live with our bodies and minds can abide. But how deceptive our hearts are in laying the blame of our reasoning for what’s best on these two.

We know what we would like to enjoy, so we decide that unless God gives it, we will not be amply provided for. What a lie! We do not want to see what God has for us, but we cover up our rejection of Him by claiming that He has rejected us in withholding from us what we idolize.

But why is God not good enough for us? Why does He have to fit into the molds of delight that we are already familiar with? Why can’t He be brand new and exciting like all these scattered things once were to us? Why do we find nothing wrong with charging Him as a mess rather than ourselves?

God is confusing to us because we don’t understand how He can be selfless, and yet set on Himself at the same time. I presently translate selfishness in another as something that must automatically benefit me in my selfishness. But, Oh, this is so far from the truth. Christ the Truth does not know a holiness that encourages sinfulness.

Holiness is a credit to He who possesses it, and God brings glory to Himself on this account. By basing His justice on this quality of character He mystifies us. When He could have fully suppressed our sin-rebellion with righteous judgment, He chose instead to set Himself between us and our Judge; to absorb from Him our wrath-payment in full.

What kind of God is this who knows not a duality of sin and sinlessness, but holiness and mercy? Mercy He willingly extends to those without holiness that He might perfectly display Himself as the sole possessor of this essential holiness.

Therefore, having Him for my God, I will ask for Him to do the work of holiness in me and not be distracted from it by the loud petitions my heart makes for happiness. Happiness has nothing of value to offer me, unless it is under-girded by a manifestation of holiness — Christ within me and Christ transforming me.

Appreciating New Life

I have noticed there’s a difference between seasons of testing based, in part, on what sin’s the Holy Spirit is dealing with in me. Recently I went through a trial in which God showed me how helpless I am without Him — how much I need Him to deal with the fears within my heart, that His love might affect me more. In that time God made me so aware of His presence, so satisfied by who He is rather than what He was so graciously withholding for my good. Joy came with the morning, but it also went to bed with me at night. God let me float in the arms of His perfect love, when I should have despaired with any less of Him.

So, in that I experienced a spiritual high while physically constrained to “the valley.” I learned, in one sense, what it means to “not want” as David says in Psalm 23; I walked through the valley of the shadow, spooky with my own weakness, yet passable because His strength never left me; I feared no evil, for He was (ever) with me.

It is still amazing, to look back at what the Lord did with me not even two months ago. Yet, since then it has been as the wonderful Daddy I have come to know has set me down on the ground again, and I have to learn to walk again; walk though it still does not feel safe to move again. I am not my eager, let-me-run-ahead-and-play-while-You-watch -Father self. I don’t want to stand on the ground; I could have stayed at His breast forever. I got such a glimpse of heaven while I was up there, so high above the world. But now, we walk along in the sand together again.

After learning to live according to His perfect gait propelling me along, I am now sorely frustrated with my own, stilted steps. Progress is excessively tedious. I wish I could “rise on the wings of the dawn…[to] settle on the far side of the sea,” rather than accept my position somewhere in the middle of that journey home.

What has earth to compare with the place to which I go;

Yet, how do I keep on till fine’ly there?

But He catch me, but He raise me — His love to show,

How shall I believe what’s seems so rare?

God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand.
I’m an open book to you;
even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
I’m never out of your sight.
You know everything I’m going to say
before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you’re there,
then up ahead and you’re there, too—
your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
I can’t take it all in!

Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.

Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
God, I’ll never comprehend them!
I couldn’t even begin to count them—
any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!
And please, God, do away with wickedness for good!
And you murderers—out of here!—
all the men and women who belittle you, God,
infatuated with cheap god-imitations.
See how I hate those who hate you, God,
see how I loathe all this godless arrogance;
I hate it with pure, unadulterated hatred.
Your enemies are my enemies!

Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—
then guide me on the road to eternal life.

Psalm 139