I wanted something in the Christian life to be about my personal strengths and abilities. As a young woman I enjoyed being first in my class, fast on the track, and a general smarty-pants when it came to classroom discussions. I reveled in my self-idolatry.
But God loved me too much to leave me like that. He wanted me to grow to love him, to allow my weaknesses to draw me to him, and to discover that my strengths and abilities are gifts from his hands, crafted by him for his purposes. So, he set about systematically breaking down my arrogance and shattering my self-reliance.
With painstaking care, he daily continues to refine, burnish, and torch my arrogance. Thank God for it! The Christian life is all about Christ. Though he gifts and equips, not one iota is about me.
I’d like to make it about me—what a good Christian I am and how much I’m doing for God. My sneaky motives continually drag me toward pride in my achievements and trust in my own efforts at spiritual growth. But the Lord won’t have it. And I am glad.
God sees the big picture. I see only my little glimpse of the present.
I get snared by the mundane, lost in the slow crawl of the difficult day. Then I notice the years have flown by, making me wonder how my oldest child could possibly be nearing forty. The span of my entire lifetime is about one bat of God’s eye. He has the long view of my life and his purpose for it.
Relentlessly, the Lover of my soul hones, sharpens, and refines me for this little whiff of time I have for serving him on this planet. He knows what is truly important. He knows the wood, hay, and stubble will be torched, and only the beautiful things that are done out of love for Christ and in reliance upon him will remain.
So, he brings me to the point of constant need of him, crafting the trials that will open my eyes and bring me running into his arms—broken body, broken relationships, fears and anxieties, over-commitment, mind-numbing tedious tasks, glaring evidence of selfish motives, loved ones in peril, insomnia, and dark angst. These are God’s tools.
All of these make life challenging. I fall apart without him. Then I come running. But, isn’t it the same for everybody?
Whatever it takes, God wants us to recognize how much we need him.
If we never see this, we will spend eternity in a horror movie with no escape. He wants us to draw near to him, to have his eternal fellowship, and to love him. When he possesses our hearts for his own, then we have true life—beautiful companionship with him here and forever after. Then we fulfill his purposes as we follow him with yielded lives.
Nothing is better than this. So he works to open our eyes. The more clearly we see our neediness, the more we entrust ourselves to him. Here we find true rest. Here we discern his leading. Thus, it is imperative that we comprehend our need.
Selfish sin runs deep, but God’s grace is deeper still. The more we rely on grace, rather than our own strength, the more we grow to adore him, the more people we can truly love as he chisels off our selfishness, and the better we can explain the gospel from the position of our own brokenness and complete need of him.
Every hour I need him. So do you. This is the essential life lesson.
Photos licensed by Creative Commons.