I was reminded today of how real God is, how precious I am to Him, how strong His love is, even when the rest of the world will water Him down, make His word be just a part of another religion, another system.
“Satan has too much to use against me for me to go anywhere confidently.”
“All I’m doing is walking on eggshells; it’s not worth it.”
“I’m not smart enough or competent or strong enough to do anything correctly, especially when it comes to talking about God to others.”
For some reason, I have been hammered with thoughts like these. There has been a discouraging fear in my heart, one that I’ve let consume my thoughts and my actions. Everything is such a struggle; my desire to do good and to be close to God and to be set apart is constantly fighting against my flesh, which wants to fulfill itself.
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:15-24, ESV)
Thank you, Paul, for telling the story of my life in a matter of sentences. Why can’t Satan just leave me alone? Why can’t sin just be cured like any other disease? Why can’t I just stop fighting and give in?
…because God loves me too much to let me.
Satan is never going to leave me alone, not as long as I’m willing to fight this war, not as long as I walk on the winning side, on God’s side. Satan isn’t just trying to distract me or hurt me; he really wants to destroy my life, and he’ll do it any way he can. Sin can’t be cured because, though I’ve been saved, I am still very human. But these facts don’t make God’s plan for me any less real, any less plausible, any less important. I don’t know what role God is having me play in the world right now. I don’t know what He’s using me for or how He’s using me. I don’t know how I’m affecting people or if I’m affecting them at all. But when it comes right down to it, I don’t need to know.
Being in a relationship with God is not about a system of witnessing…it’s not about how often I go “soul-winning” or how much time I spend with my church friends, or which guy I go out with, if any. It’s about the fact that God is in love with me, that He wants my attention, that He’s my Knight in shining armor that outshines any thing or man I will ever come in contact with. Even as I type up this post, I’m being tempted to let my words be cold and unloving to make God seem less than He is. But He is loving. Oh is He loving! Just tonight He blessed me with Maria. I’ve just been struggling so much this week…I haven’t done anything, but man I’ve been struggling. He gave me an opportunity to tell her what was going on, despite the temptation to give into my fear of looking hypocritical, imperfect, and flawed. I am flawed! I am hypocritical! I am imperfect! Duh! If anybody thinks any human is perfect, they need to go back to sleep and wake up again because they are obviously in a completely different world.
Humans are messed up, fickle, difficult, complicated, and frustrating. We’re biased, afraid, cowardly, self-indulgent, and pathetic. We forget the ones who have been with us forever and we spit in the face of those who care about us. We kill innocent people in the name of what we call justice. We keep our own agendas while pretending to be selfless. We give in to our own pleasures on a daily basis, very rarely exercising any form of self-control. We fight, we curse, we vanquish, we run.
But in light of all of these things, despite how disgusting and smelly and disturbing we are, we are loved. Even when we’re told we’re loved we take the concept of this love and pervert it, water it down, disrespect it, shun it. Why? Why can’t we just let it be enough? Why can’t we just get out of our own way so we can experience Something so much more important than ourselves? Why can’t we put down what we want and throw away our insignificant plans and desires and see that Someone wants us to be so much better than what we are?
Why can’t God be enough for us? Why does there always have to be more? Why can’t “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” be enough? Why do we have to be so needy?
Why am I so frustrated?
Because I have forgotten that God. Is. Enough.
Before I came to Pratt, to New York City, God was totally enough. Now that I’m here, I find myself wanting more, as if I’m searching for something I have right in my hand. I have forgotten the grace by which I’ve been saved; I have forgotten just how undeserving I really am, how unfair my sentence of eternal bliss really is. I have forgotten how much God knows about me, how well He knows my ways. He knows all of my idiosyncrasies, from the way I tie my shoes to the random sequence of my thoughts to my facial expressions to how I fold my clothes. He knows what I read, what I think of every single sentence, what I laugh at, what I want. He knows my past, present, and future. He knows my heart, how deep, dark, and disgusting it all really is. It’s all out in the open to Him, and there’s no pretending. I am completely naked in front of Him.
But while I stand there, cowering in absolute humiliation and vulnerability, as I quake in fear of His judgement and in the light of His glory, He steps down from His throne and walks over to where I have now fallen to my knees, my head in my hands. I weep and cry and don’t even bother praying because I know in my heart that I am not worthy to pray to Him, to beg for mercy, to grovel at His feet. As I sob, I feel His hand on my shoulder.
He’s touching me. I think. God, perfect love, is touching me.
He bends down to look me in the face, just when I thought I couldn’t feel any more exposed than I already did. Before I can turn away from His gaze, He speaks to me.
“Hunter, I love you. Though you have done nothing for Me and can never pay Me back for anything I’ve done or will do for you, I love you and I will always love you forever, until the end of time. You are beautiful in My eyes; your heart is white as snow to Me, your slate clean, your record nonexistent. You. Are. Beautiful. I will use you for great things. You will be with Me forever, and I with you. There will be times when you do not want Me, when you leave My arms to be in the arms of idols, but do not worry; I will wait for you to come back. I will protect you from yourself. Satan cannot touch you when you are with Me. I will not let him. He will speak to you and desire your destruction, but he cannot destroy what I have made indestructible. Hunter, I love you. I will be enough for you, if you will let Me. I will fill your life with hope and completeness; you will have a peace in Me that surpasses all human understanding. I will give you more than the world could ever offer you. I want to give you everything, if you will let Me.”
When you look out at the rest of the world, thinking about how much better life might be without God, without having to fight, run in the other direction. I’ve been on the other side, and while you don’t have to fight the world (because you’re now part of it) it’s not fulfilling; it’s draining and tiresome and empty. It’s just not worth it. You’re on the losing side.
Even if I do fail, even if I give up and join the losing side, God will still win. Satan may have won with me, but he’ll never beat God. God has already won, and He’s setting me up to win as well. He has put things into motion that I can’t even see, things that will ultimately glorify Him while, on a smaller scale, make me stronger and push me forward to the things He wants for me. Yes, Satan really wants me to lose in this life since he’s already lost my soul, and I might. But it doesn’t matter if I lose, because God will win.
“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
Deuteronomy 31:8, ESV