The wonderful thing about Thursdays is that I have the entire morning to get enough sleep, spend all the time I want talking to God and also to read His word, to set my heart before Him and set my thoughts on Him before the day really starts.
This morning I read, as I had in 2 Samuel, of God’s covenant with David, to establish his throne before him forever. David talks to Nathan, saying “Behold, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of the covenant of the Lord is under a tent” (1 Chronicles, 17:1). God then uses the prophet Nathan to say, “You think you will build Me a house? Pssh, I am going to build you a house” (v.3-15).
When I read this, I was reminded of a conversation I had last week with one of my teammates. We’d talked about Christ and the Gospel, and the way she saw it was God having selfish motives, because He got all the glory.
But this morning as I read and as I talked to God, I realized that God actually doesn’t get anything worth getting out of this, out of His reconciling us to Him. Even us glorifying Him is wimpy and pathetic, and the things we do for Him on our own are simply filthy rags. We are fulfilled, complete, healed, and loved…He gets nothing added to Him.
God’s working to get us back to Him, God’s sending Christ, was an act that would bring Him nothing. Yeah, He gets us. Big whoop. Without Him, honestly, the human race really isn’t all that great. We’re kind of annoying…and selfish…and we make decisions based off of fear but still think we know everything. We, in ourselves, are not fit to face Him, not even fit to praise Him. We have nothing to offer Him, at least nothing that’s not already His.
So then why do I struggle with pride so much? Why on earth do I find myself in a place where for a single second I think I have any claim on anything good in my life? Why in the world do I even take a step toward the pedestal on which He belongs? Why do I think that I can do anything worth doing by myself? I just don’t understand how after everything He’s done and all the things He continues to do I can still let pride weed its way into my heart and grow there.
The rest of the morning I got ready for class and ate breakfast and did very normal day things 🙂 In Studio, however, I was met with a realization that I’m met with every semester.
So, we are required to read several novels throughout the semester, most of them in Studio class. Normally, because the content of the novels is either pornographic or vulgar, I’ll be sure to know the gist of the novel to be able to contribute to discussion in class but go no further, because I don’t want those images in my head. I know it sounds prudish, but, honestly, I’ve experienced the chaotic effects that come about because I get lazy about what I allow to influence my thinking. God asks me to do this, to think on things that are “true…honorable…just…pure…lovely…commendable,” not for His good, but for mine. He knows how destructive those things are and He knows the affect they have on my brain and how they twist my heart. Even some of the books I was required to buy had such explicit covers that I couldn’t bring myself to buy them, didn’t want to be in a position where I’d have to look at that every day…I’m not really sure what to do there.
Where am I going with this? Well, today in Studio we were continuing our discussion of Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson. And I found that the conversation was perfectly organized, though I think subconsciously so, to keep from talking about values mentioned in the book, along with the morality of what was going on. We discussed how society would see a lot of the things he was doing as wrong or messed up, so that was interesting. Of course we talked about the content, and the story itself, and I was reminded that modern secular writers constantly analyze or strive to redeem in a backwards way the human condition, which, virtually, is either based on the search for purpose or based on the acceptance of having no purpose, always stemming from the established understanding that there is something seriously wrong with the human race. I was reminded that the end is Christ and that these writers continuously miss the mark.
Now, even as I typed that statement out (“I was reminded that the end is Christ”) I feel like people react to it with “Wow, haughty much?” or “There are no absolutes; there really are other effective ways of being redeemed” or “I’ve tried religion; it didn’t work.” I’m not going to pretend I have the perfect response for each of these reactions, nor will I try to address all of the other reactions I didn’t mention. And I’m not going to pretend that in my writing I somehow perfect the reaching of that end in anyway…I have a lot to learn. But I will say this: Yes, I believe that Christ is the absolute; His word says so. “Jesus is the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) and “I am the way, the truth, and the light”(John 14:6) and “I, the Lord, the first, and with the last; I am he” (Isaiah 41:4) and the wholeness of His Gospel is what I’m going to stand on.
While I was in class and I kept trying to contribute to the discussion, I just felt like we were missing something. We were talking about this guy who was still constantly reaching for redemption and trying to find a feeling that made him complete, whether through drugs, alcohol, sex, or whatever, but we weren’t talking about what could possibly redeem him. It’s like we were just restating the human condition and examining it but never letting ourselves reach a conclusion. It’s like there was a desire to avoid talking about that, maybe not one that was deliberately established, but it was still there.
This is probably one of the hardest things I’ve experienced while being here. It just becomes frustrating when we’re constantly talking about the ridiculous brokenness of the human condition but won’t explore what could maybe, I don’t know, satisfy it? Make it better? Heal it? Give it purpose? Yes, of course I think the answer is Jesus. No, I don’t think there’s any other way. But it’s not even about what I think. It’s about what God’s word says, what He’s done for us, what the truth is. It all goes back to who He is.
I still, after three semesters, don’t know how to approach this.
Regardless, I needed the wake up call and the reminder of how different the way God sees things is when compared to how everyone else sees things. *Sigh* It’s just being aware of the differences and not letting the line be blurred, between the lie and the truth, but also knowing how to step over the line of “this side” and “that side” to reach my classmates and professors. I have not yet developed this skill, and still have so much to learn.
But I guess that’s why Christ says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart.” He’s inviting me to learn from Him and to lean into Him and to just, gosh, walk with Him, and He understands that I just don’t get it and clearly need Him to totally spell it out for me because it just goes right over my head, that I obviously need Him to take me alongside Him and show me what to do and how to speak and even how to love. And yet He stays, and He gives, and He grows, and He protects, and He challenges, and He strengthens, and He encourages, and He loves…
And He loves.