Are your circumstances affirming you or Him?

There is someone who is currently ruining my life with their every move. They may not know it, but they are. The real problem is that I can’t tell them that they are and ask them to disconnect themselves from my world. I have to just live with them. I need to make the most of my day-to-day while they fail to disappear.

I wish God would intervene and finally remove them. But, for now, it seems that He still has a plan for their continued presence. As you may have noticed, I’m running out of patience for that plan to be drawn to a close. In fact, I wish God would find a new plan–since His plans seem to have a tendency towards the long-winded and I really don’t like this one. I haven’t felt comfortable with the plan since I first sensed its advent and that doesn’t seem to be changing much.

Discomfort is not my preferred spiritual condition. My idea of a first-rate God-manifesting plan for my life would look like an increase in my natural inclination to love God and His ways. But that doesn’t seem to be in sinc with God’s plan. He exposes my natural inclinations as being interminably committed to sin. There is no option of keeping these inclinations alive; I must put them to death and let God’s heavenly inclinations live in me. But I do not always feel ready to go on the mortification path.

The parts of me that feel most familiar are what I identify myself with most closely. To put them to death feels like putting myself to death. My idea of growth leaves death conspicuously absent; while God’s idea is that it be the center of all true life. Therefore, if my inclinations are not in conformity with His will, I do not enter them into a reform program, I cut off all life from them and let them shrivel up and pass away.

I am not normally a person given to glorifying death, but as a Christian, I must recognize that death has become the doorway through which glory shines through. Because of Christ, Life has descended into the depths of who we are and made us alive in Him. But, we must not neglect the fact that Life (that is, Christ) has also warred against all that is contrary to life and obtained irreversible victory over all such evil. The only way that we can live lives that consistently recognize these truths and persist in not neglecting them is that we beat our bodies into the kind of submission to them that Paul talks about.

We give up hoping for a magical transfer of grace that will override our hearts and make us perfect. Rather, we accept, with pure gratitude, the grace that has already been given to us, enabling us to walk in the footsteps of our Master. We do not fear death and all its tortures because of the hope that Christ brought out of it to us. We glory in the very things that burden our souls with a desperation for holiness.

Needless to say, I don’t really know what God is doing here–it’s a business that’s foreign to me. A little too foreign, if you ask me. I wish–if He must be intent on keeping His plans what they are–that He would be a little more generous with what He discloses to me of what they are about. But, somehow, not knowing the whys is proving to be more beneficial to my faith. It is stretching me to see that God’s wisdom is superior to mine in all circumstances, not just when it’s easy to offer God a high-five.

I’m learning to trust in ways that I couldn’t if everything was just as I liked it. In that case, faith would take a backseat in my life. Without trials, I would be free to trust what I see more than what I don’t see. I would be unpleasing to God in my walk and I wouldn’t even know it because it would all feel “just fine” to me. My earthly ways would be able to play out without any checks. Yet, because I am challenged, God is enabling me to look beyond what comes naturally to me to what could come supernaturally to me.

I wouldn’t be able to “see” God as clearly as I do now if the necessity of anticipation was not laid upon me. I’m voluntarily opening doors in my heart that I never would have if I wasn’t so in earnest that He come be a part of my existence in a more profound way. Because everything is not right–with me or my ideal-divorced circumstances–I’m learning to long, not just for more of God in my life, but for His presence to change me to be more like Him. His Spirit is the only true perfection I know. And when everything else is tainted, it is such a joy to know He is the One person who is impervious to the manipulation of evil.

Then, as I deepen my fellowship with Him, I long to be like Him in new ways. It’s not that He troubles my self-esteem, but He puts a hunger in my heart to know more purity at my core than I do presently. He makes virtue oh so appealing–for with Him it’s not a show; its the quiet, yet constant, revelation of who He is. And, when I’m with Him, I can’t get enough of that revelation. Nothing else in the world matters so much as receiving more of Him. No, nothing.

So, the person that rankles my flesh can go on rankling my flesh for as long as God sees fit. After all, that person pushes me toward Christ with a force that convinces me God has determined to work on me through them. Yes, I continue to struggle but, if you think about it, everything is working out. My faith is being worked out. My relationship with God is being worked out. And sin’s power in me is being worked out of me. Yeah, I’d say that is a pretty intense work-out session…one with lots of benefits (even when it’s sweaty and I want to quit because I think it all hurts too much). In the end I’ll be in the shape God wants me to be!