Tuesday, October 30, 2012
**DISCLAIMER** FOR NON-BELIEVRS: please, if you don't read this blog post just read the last paragraph.
Allow me blow your minds really quick. Nay - allow God to blow your minds through me, really quick.
You guys, I'm a sinner. Let's just put that out there. It isn't a secret. Romans 3:23 - for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. I am constantly being reminded of my sinful nature. My constant need to satisfy my selfish desires is being brought to my attention at an alarming rate lately.
So, I am sitting here trying to figure out what to do with myself; how am I going to get through this selfishness; what do I need to work on and how do I accomplish that 'working on'? Before moving on to the next sentence, re-read that first one in this paragraph a couple more times, let it sink in a little bit.... a little more.... great.
What is the theme? - "Me".
I have always been one to push through, to stand strong, to muscle my way through circumstances and move forward, because isn't that what we are taught? - The stronger you are, the better off you will be in times of struggle?
Great, so, I am going to grit my teeth and flex my biceps and punch my way through my sin. But, alas, here I am the very next day in the same position I was a day ago, and a day before that, and still a day before that etc., and change hasn't happened like I thought it would. What gives?
I must stop here real quick and clarify something: I am not saying that we shouldn't strive for change, because we definitely should strive change. I am not saying that working towards perfection is not something we shouldn't do, because we are called to strive for perfection: Matthew 5:48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (to unpack this verse, I recommend reading through the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7). The way we go about that striving for change and perfection is where my concern lies. Without giving too much away just yet, this verse in Matthew makes both my point about striving for perfection AND the point of this blog post, so we will figure that out here in a sec.
But, continuing with my dilemma, my grit and grunts aimed at breaking through my sin with force have turned me away like a feather hitting a brick wall. I thought making a check list of what to work on would allow me the 7 (or in my case 120-ish) step process of becoming "the person I want to be in 1-2 short weeks" attainable.
Here is what I have failed, and continually fail to realize: I cannot do anything in my own power to break free from sin apart from the good works of God inside of me. As hard as I try, anything I do without (aside from, alone) relying fully and totally on God and His grace is going to end in failure. Why? Because "perfection", "good"-ness, "sinlessness" only abides in one person, who IS God. And, relying on myself to produce that perfection I strive for is an impossible task because Romans 3:10 says 'None is righteous, no, not one' (talking about people, not God).
So, then, what does all of this mean?
Let me take you to the verse that started my thoughts for this blog post, and try to connect some dots for you: Psalm 27:14 Wait for the lord; be STRONG, and let your heart take COURAGE; wait for the Lord.
I was going about strength all wrong. When I was trying to play Hulk and beat the sin outta me, Jesus was saying something different. He was saying stop what you are doing, wait on ME. Stop trying to figure everything out, and wait on my word, wait on my goodness, wait on my guidance to lead you. You can't do this on your own, you don't know what strength is!
The strongest thing any one person can do, the most courageous thing we can do, is to wait on the Lord.
Woah. Ok, so, what does this mean as far as sin goes? I mean, aren't we supposed to be perfect like our Father in heaven is perfect like you said earlier? Yes. But, how we get there isn't by anything we can do. The whole point to the law (law of Moses - 10 commandments) and the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7) (and arguably the whole bible) is to show that we, by ourselves, are incapable of doing anything on our own to become perfect. That leaves us with one thing, waiting on the Lord to create in us a heart aimed at perfection.
The Hebrew definition of the word wait is this: from the New Strong's Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible - this word stresses the straining of the mind in a certain direction with an expectant attitude....a forward look with assurance.
Instead of straining our mind on ourselves, which doesn't produce assurance that we will come out on the other side better than we are now, we should strain our mind on Him who has the power and desire to produce that change in us, giving us an assurance in Him that the change will be produced. BAM.
Here's the point: when you struggle to produce in yourself the goodness you want to attain, you will fail. You may be able to do some nice things, or have a few minutes of self-motivated rebellion of the thing you don't want to be doing, but, if we are honest with ourselves, that sinful desire comes back so hard and so fast we don't know it hit us until we feel the pangs of despair left in its wake.
When we put our motives and strength into waiting on God's direction and reacting to His conviction, we look forward to a change that will be produced in us as long as we stay obedient to his call. When we wait on the Lord, we find ourselves so satisfied in His strength that we have no need to be strong for ourselves. Think about it this way: if we are the ant, and the shoe is our sin, Jesus (God) is the solid rock in-between us that creates the gap of space for us to fit where the sole never comes close to squishing us. (This is not to say that we will never sin, because we can't do that, but it does mean that Jesus is there to bat for us. He is there to redeem us in sin and protect us from being ruled by sin - Romans 6:4 ...we too might walk in newness of life (that we shall not serve sin, or sin shall not have dominion over us))
I encourage you to spend some time reading through Psalm 27. My good friend Joel, who you may know makes phat beats for the one and only Tyler Ward (ahem* plays drums for Tyler) gave me this verse/chapter in my time of need, and I am paying it forward to whoever reads this and is in between a shoe and a hard place (probably concrete, if you're trying to stay true to the ant shoe picture). I also encourage you to be strong and wait on the Lord. It isn't easy. My goodness, it isn't easy. But, God will produce.
And let me say this, if you don't believe in God, and Jesus to you isn't real, I encourage you to prove it. I don't say this as a 3rd grader says on the playground at recess after an infamous "I can do this better than you" battle, I say it as a friend who wants you to make sure that what you believe is 100% true. I was in your shoes all throughout my life until sophomore year of college, a mere 4-ish years ago, but the second I sought the answer to the question of why God isn't 'for me' like cilantro isn't for me, I was caught unknowingly in a whirlwind of exceptionally swaying evidence as to why Jesus does exist, and is who he says he is. If you would like a resource (I'd say it is pretty unbiased in its attempt to relay evidence for His existence) please take the time to read The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel. If you don't have access to this book, send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get you one.
As always, thanks for enduring my long-windedness.
God bless, friends.