Much of the last year has taught me a number of things. One is the way God interacts with us in the seasons of struggle, pain, and loss.
There is a great value to self-examination within the day to day walk with and after Christ, but it ought to be more than a solely self-examination. It is why the Psalmist prayed, "Search me O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Ps. 139:23-24) When we do the necessary work of self-examination we must invite God to search along with us and reveal the things He will. We do this because when left to our own, we have two primary tendencies, both of which are destructive to the honest heart after God.
Our first tendency is to praise ourselves too highly. If we do not ask God to search our hearts and reveal, we will make excuses for every wicked or troublesome thing in our heart and mind. We will make light of dark things, which ought to be dealt with.
Our other tendency is to blame ourselves too heavily. If we do not ask God to search and reveal, we will tirelessly break ourselves down. For some of us God is entirely more gracious toward our sin than we would ever dream of being for ourselves.This is why we need God to search and reveal our true heart's condition.
God is fully aware of our tendency toward one of these extremes (I find myself in the latter most often). Because He is aware of our tendency, and because He knows too much SELF-examination does more harm than good, He presents in the Psalms how we ought to search and reveal the sin in our lives. We go about this with humility and grace, only God can accomplish that balance with perfection. Only God will draw us in humility and grace for self in order to balance between the extremes of praise and blame.
Today, God, I want your Word to affect both my mind and my heart. I need to know your tenderness, your intimacy, and your love in a way that I have not known it in some time. I will soak up your Word today. Please help my heart understand. Speak to my heart and may I come to know you more?
"and though you have not seen Him, YOU LOVE HIM, and though you do not see Him now, you BELIEVE in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls." -1 Peter 1:8-9
I greatly desire my heart to know the joy of salvation my mind knows it is. My soul is saved, and my mind knows the good news of the reality, but my heart does not often sit and rest with the very good news that this truly is for my soul eternal. God, help my heart rejoice today. I want to love you more.
Help my heart today. Give me a heart of flesh to replace the bits of built up stone.
When I consider the depths of who I am, I realize I cannot even fathom what is there. I am a mystery even to myself when I strive to understand the depths of the soul, spirit, and body. I read Psalm 139 about a God of light and dark. A God of mountains and ocean! Even those things I can at least see and take in, but Psalm 139 reminds us that we are further, deeper, and greater than even the mountains, light, dark, and ocean.
Psalm 139 reveals to us the depths of our spirit, but it also praises a God who knows and controls all these very depths that we cannot even reach with any entirety. Ozzie Chambers says, "The work of the Holy Spirit is in the dim regions of our personality which we cannot get at."
We are reminded by the Psalmist that God is deeper, further, greater than we can grasp, but that His Spirit truly does change and restore that core place of who we are; that place we struggle to get at. That ongoing restoration is entire and complete (1 Thess. 5:23)
The greatest disappointment is for us to assume these depths of ourselves and the work of the Holy Spirit with these depths are myth because we have no conscious experience of them. There are depths to our spirit we cannot consciously experience, but we need God to be our God, who can search and restore the depths we cannot get at.
We need the cleansing of sin at the very depths we cannot get at. We are terribly mislead when we say we are not conscious of our sin. Sure! There are depths to our darkness we are not conscious of, and God does regenerate and restore those things if would but ask.
There are depths to our light that we are not aware of either, and God will reveal the brighter parts of who we are when we would but ask.
There is depth to our greatness as men and women created in the image of God, and He will reveal and unleash those things if we would but ask.
When we think on these things of soul and spirit, we realize God truly knows us better than we know ourselves.
Recently I have read a few amazing books on prayer that have challenged me. It challenged my view of God. God is a spiritual being, and he is not flesh like us. We are flesh, but God created us flesh and souls with spirits. I cannot be theological enough here to say I know how that all works out (the diagram above is created by Dallas Willard, and has served me greatly).
Sometimes, I try relating to God awaiting the right feeling and emotion, and it always fails. I just know that I too often try relating to God while starting with my emotions, and I fail. Then I try relating to God with my mind, and that humorously fails. Then I just try to learn more about the spirit, and that spirit is what was made perfect and blameless by God on the cross. Now if that is the only part of me that is blameless, I have to learn how to come to grips with it.
I do not know how to describe that, but I do know it takes a lot of trust (faith); like more trust than anything in my life has ever required before. As I strive to learn, I do know that when my spirit is engaged (another thing I don't have space to define here), I THEN feel closer to the heart of God. That is because he is a spiritual being and that is the only way to be relational to him. This is why I said that when I come to him in spirit, it often forms, changes, and engages my mind, my emotions and my flesh.
There is no way I have clarified anything for you. So what say you?
One of my favorite interactions with Jesus is that of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. I love the idea that Jesus, knowing He is going to raise Lazarus, still waits and weeps with Mary and Martha. What enormous compassion! He did not need to weep with them. He knew he was going to resurrect Lazarus in just moments.
But something else strikes me today. Remember when He waited to go until after Lazarus had been dead for 4 days already? He shows up and Martha says, "Jesus, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." (John 11:32) Here is something to think about: I think Jesus could have said, "You're right! If I had come when you asked, your brother would not have died."
She knew Jesus would heal him. After all, she had see him heal time and time again. It is as though he was saying, "You would not have come to know me more and deeper than you are about to know me. You would not have been prepared for an even greater revelation of me than you had already known."
God's silence in our lives means He is prepared to bring into your life an even greater revelation of Himself than you have ever known. When God is silent, start watching for what he is about to teach you about Himself. This will require faith, trust, and anticipation.
More and more, I believe the answer comes down to one thing.
Jesus replies, "Love the LORD your God with all of your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment." (Matthew 22:37-38)
As I am daily ambushed by God's outrageous love for me, I am more and more convinced that seeking God's will for my life is the wrong search. But I should search for His will in my life, and His will is the same as it has always been.
He wants you to love Him with all that you are. Your experiencing God depends on you having a sincere and real relationship of love. I am more and more convinced that this is more important than any.thing.else in your life.
Every decision, big or small, everything in your Christian life, everything about knowing God and knowing His will is fully dependent on the intimacy of your love relationship with God.
If this lynchpin is not in place, nothing...nothing in your life will be right.
"I am your child. I quit trying to MAKE myself presentable to you and instead trust that I AM presentable to you despite all of the things that are just parts of a sinful nature around me. I move on in that passage and believe, 'if I confess my sin, you are faithful and just and will purify me and forgive me' because again, you only see your child here, and I need not be plagued by sin OR guilt. I mean is not guilt the actual issue here? Not sin. I mean sin is just inevitable, but what IS of choice by me is whether I will allow guilt to plague me and keep me from seeing myself as your child instead of seeing myself as this horrible person. You're so much quicker to forgive me than I am to forgive myself.
Soul, I will address you as the Psalmists do. Oh my soul within me, why do you continue to focus on the discouragement, shame, and self-defeat? Why do you not focus on Jesus and the rest he gives to you? (Matthew 11:28-29) Why do you believe the lies of the Imposter within you? Listen to the truth of Jesus' words, come to Him, and he will give you rest.
In Jesus, you find your rest. In Jesus, you find rescue and refuge from your troubles. In Jesus, you will find rest you crave and desire. Oh heart within me, you are under the weight of defeat, and you need rest. Only in Jesus will you find rest from self-defeat, hopelessness, and shame. Listen up, soul! You need rest! Only when you are focused on Jesus will you not be be focused on the destructive lies and inner-dialogue.
Oh my soul, come to Jesus this morning [and tomorrow....and the next day], and you WILL find rest.