Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Matters of the Heart

"We are more able to stop the sun in its course or make rivers run uphill as by our own skill and power to rule and order our hearts" -Puritan John Flavell

I have trusted God with my life. I know that Jesus came two thousand years ago to die for my sins, and I know that only through that death and resurrection will I be able to stand righteous before God. So, I have believed. My life has changed direction, and I now desire to be like Christ. I have relinquished power over my dating life, my heathen lifestyle, and my day in and day out activities. Christ is my focus. God's kingdom is far more beautiful than anything I can obtain by my own power. I am a Christian. I am saved, and I am secure.

I have made it through big time temptation, and I have been declared victorious.So, why, WHY, do I lose my temper when I don't feel like I am being respected? Why do I get so easily annoyed and impatient with people, and why am I anxious when I don't have a good night at work? I don't feel very Christ-like when these things happen. In fact, I feel so ugly on the inside that I wonder how in the world can I be regenerated? But, I know I am..I have seen my desires change and I have seen my life re-orient to be lived for God. So, where is the disconnect? Am I faithful in big things but not in the small?

God has been working to reveal some answers to me in this area of my life. It has been really frustrating..not matter how many times I say "ok, I'm not going to complain today because that's not being a good witness" or "I am going to love people no matter what today", it never seems to work. I can hold it together for a little while, but then I just end up not being able to keep it up and I feel horrible about myself. Like a failure.

So enter book: "You Can Change"(God's transforming power for our sinful behavior and negative emotions)" by Tim Chester, who co-authored another favorite of mine, "Total Church". I would like to share a couple of key quotes I have come across so far.

"Our Christian lives began when we received the Spirit by believing in Christ crucified, not when we finally managed to observe the law. It's foolish to think that we can now take over finish the job through human effort. It's not just that trying to live by laws and disciplines is useless- it's a backwards step-which ends up undermining grace and hope."

"When the crowd asks Jesus what God expects of them he replies "This is the only work God wants from you. Believe in the one he has sent."

I think I finally understand this! It is not just believing He was God then, or in the future, but trusting in His power to metamorphasize ME- not by my strength but by the continual realization that I am completely dependent on His strength and grace- EVERY DAY- Believing in this SENT one- I know He is Lord- but I have been so disappointed in my heart- it yearns to be like Christ but fails miserably- I need faith in everyday things- HIS power- mini-miracles of victory and surrender only by the working of the Holy Spirit. This is freedom. This is "the only work" God wants because it is the only way- we will not change from our own efforts- it is IMPOSSIBLE. I have been trusting in God only for outcomes, not for the day-in, day-out grind of Christian life. I have not asked, not continually, for strength and wisdom in the million small decisions and reactions I face everyday-the decisions and reactions that shape bigger days and the way that others see Christ through me. I have realized my ineptitude on a grand scale but neglected to address the gross selfishness and dissatisfaction in them minutia of life. I thought I could handle them on my own..but I CAN'T. Not like Christ. I can only do them my way.

So, it is time to address my heart. It is time to see where I am not loving God, where I am not believing his Word..because if "ALL THINGS" work together for the good of those who are loved and are called according to his purpose (Jer 29:11), then I need to trust God. I believe that He rose from the dead, but I don't expect that He can help me be kind to those who are not kind to me. I believe that He has the BEST plan for my life, but that complaining is okay because I don't deserve to have a bad day (surely, THAT can't be in His plan). My sin here has been abiding with small rebellions and also with unforgiveness..for myself and for others. My heart is at its core legalistic and as long as I haven't been "sinning" I am doing ok, even though my attitude may stink. But if I do mess up, boy do I feel it. I haven't understood grace, or the fact that I am at best a wretched sinner and can't be like Christ on my own, not only as I have acknowledged on the big scale, but in the tiniest upsets or interactions..I need GRACE. I need it for myself and for others. I need to understand that I'm not a sinner because I sin, but I sin because I'm a sinner. It is a fatal disease, and until I leave this earthly vessel I will be struggling against it. The evidence of Christ in me is that I AM fighting.

I will let you know how it goes..praying big-time for Christ's intercession in every detail, and seeing myself fail in the meantime.. hold on for a bumpy ride as I say goodbye to legalism and learn to trust God with ALL of it..

In the meantime, I thoroughly recommend the aforementioned book. =)