“IN GOD WE TRUST–TAKING HIM AT HIS WORD”
If you’re ever curious about your maturity level, all you need to do is unearth a problem–and then you’ll know. Character is conceived during times of peace, but whether it lives or dies depends on how we respond in the midst of stress. When somebody pushes our buttons and our internal temperature skyrockets, we suddenly find ourselves faced with a very important choice to make concerning our flesh.
In this moment of choice, someone always dies to the flesh. And that someone will always be you. You can either react in the midst of your emotion and die later when the conviction hits, or you can choose to follow God and die right now. Either way, your death will occur, so you might as well get it over with as soon as possible.
Soul-Tied with God
Repentance always requires death to self. Admitting we were wrong and asking for forgiveness literally executes our soul. We can feel our soul gasp in surprise as the knife slides in and cuts our sin from us. What did I do to deserve this? Our soul whines, and if we’re not careful, we can begin to feel sorry for it, do CPR, and bring it back to life. Repentance takes away our right to be right, our right to be in control. It sometimes seems unfair. Sometimes, it even seems like a step backward, but it’s not.
After we have had our maturity level tested and failed, it can be incredibly difficult to remember that God cares about our caring (that we tried) more than He cares about our success. We can be so caught up in self-hatred, frustration, guilt, shame, rejection, and a host of other things, that we feel abandoned by Him. Or worse, we think we’ve retarded our relationship with Him, and have to get better before He will come close again. We forget that God dwells within us, and so He feels what we feel.
The Lord has the ability to carry our emotion. He is not a non-emotional God. He is fully emotional and fully looking to move on our behalf. He sees what we are doing and grieves whenever something doesn’t go the way we want it to, or when it hurts us. He grieves when, like children, we put our hand on the stove and are burned, or when the other children laugh at us. He sees it, and He feels it with us, every drop of blood, every twist of our heart.
In order to progress in our spiritual walk, we need to take Isaiah 63:9 literally, “In all of our affliction, He Himself is afflicted.” He doesn’t just know about our sorrow; He doesn’t see our sorrow, dismiss it, and expect us to immediately bounce back again. He actually experiences our sorrow, even when it’s something we think He would avoid like the plague–such as guilt over willful sin.
Taking God at His Word
When we are doing “well” spiritually, it isn’t all that difficult to believe that God loves us. The hard part comes after we’ve failed. When we feel dirty, it is nearly impossible to believe that He still finds us beautiful. The enemy is able to come in and play with our heads. We feel like the scum of the earth, completely and irreversibly disgusting. And once again, we face a moment of choice that will kill us, one way or the other.
Our moment of choice is this: We can choose to take Him at His word, or we can choose to take matters into our own hands and ignore the possibility that, just maybe, He is really as good as the Bible says He is. Maybe He loves us like He says He loves us, not according to how we love ourselves.
In the midst of our pain, whatever that pain may be, He gets down on His hands and knees, washes our feet, bandages our wounds, kisses us quiet, and says all is well.
And this is where character is conceived, not in our moments of perfection, but in our moments of realization: He loves me.