Some of you may be shocked to hear me say this.... as you have been a witness to my selfless, caring, and extremely giving side. I do admit that it is there. I do know that at times *myself* is the absolute last thing I am thinking about. But I am also sure that each of you who knows this side of me can relate to that inner struggle we all face-- the ugly side of us deep inside that we all struggle with. That side who is really only thinking about ME.
I have come to a very important conclusion. I am selfish and self centered because I do not have enough Jesus in me. Well, He is there, don't get me wrong. But I block Him out each and every time I make a choice to follow my will and to focus on myself instead of Him.
I do love to help others and give to others... but am I doing it for Jesus? Or myself? Sometimes I wonder. Sometimes I know it is for Jesus.... but there are plenty of other times that deep down inside, I know it is more for me- how I will feel, how I will look to others, how I will be "appreciated", the list goes on.
I love to help and give and do for others when I know it will be easy, when there is not a lot to sacrifice. Others may see it as a sacrifice on my part- but to me that loving just comes easily and without much thought or effort. It does not really cost me anything. So I wonder- isn't this like the wealthy man whose large offering really did not mean much because it was of no real sacrifice to him? Should I not rather be like the poor woman who gave everything she had in an offering that was practically nothing? Her tiny gift was glorified much more than the large gift of the wealthy man, because she was truly humbling herself before the Lord. Am I exalting myself, or humbling myself in these offerings?
Matthew 23:12 (New Living Translation)
12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
I want to be humbled before my King. I want to be an open and clean vessel that He can flow through to love others. But there is a huge part of me that hangs back... never fully committing everything. Because I am afraid. And if I am really, really honest.... it is my pride that fuels my fear.
My pride says: I do not want to be rejected!
THE TRUTH OF THE WORD SAYS: all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)...You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:22, Mark 13:13, Luke 21:17)
My pride says: I want what I want when I want it!
THE TRUTH OF THE WORD SAYS: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
My pride says: I can do it by myself!
THE TRUTH OF THE WORD SAYS: I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
My pride says: I can't do it! I will fail!
THE TRUTH OF THE WORD SAYS: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil 4:13)
So who am I going to listen to? My pride? Or my Jesus?
This blog was an amazing outlet for me when I created it as "Journey of Healing". I was in need of much healing. I think in many ways every person on this earth will be in need of healing in one form or another until we leave this earthly life. Over the past two years, my interest has waned, and I have not been filled with pressing topics to write about/ work out in my life.
I believe that in many ways I have outgrown that "need". I no longer need to focus on my "healing", because quite frankly, I think (hope) that I have matured enough in the Lord these past few years to move on to a new journey. Instead of focusing on myself-my healing- which again, just to be clear, is focusing all on ME..... I want to shift my focus on God.
I have been thinking a lot lately about my "relationship" with God. Do I have one? Yes, I know I do. I hear His still soft voice whispering to me when I am willing to listen. But is is a deep relationship? A strong relationship? A relationship worthy of sharing with others, especially unbelievers? I am afraid that I must say no on this one. Yes, I have had a few "seasons" in my life where that answer was a little more optimistic. Seasons where I really let God in as I surrendered to His will. Seasons where I yearned to learn more about who He is, where I let Him come in and change and remold me. But those seasons have never become a lifestyle- a permanent feature/reality in my life. And without this strong vibrant relationship with my Lord and Savior, won't I keep falling back into the selfishness and self centeredness of my prideful living? I think so.
I have come to realize that I have viewed my relationship with God the Father much like my earthly parental relationships (including in-law parental relationships).... keep them at an arms distance (or further in some instances) so as not to disappoint or be disappointed. I don't want to be hurt or judged or criticized. I don't want to feel unworthy or unlovable. I don't want to be told what to do, or how to do it, or how not to do it. (I don't want to be driven my their motives and values that may or may not be in my best interest.) But I also don't want to be ignored or neglected. All of these issues have presented themselves in my life through the years in my earthly parental relationships. So to "protect" myself, I keep a distance- emotionally and physically. And this is also what I have learned to do with God.
But God is NOT like my earthly parental figures. He knows how to love me unconditionally, humans-even parents- can't. He does not see me as unworthy or unlovable, and He will never make me feel that way (despite what my feelings may tell me!) He will never reject or neglect me! And His ways ARE perfect, so if He tells me what to do or how (or how not) to do something, I can be confident in the fact that it IS for my own good. He is not out to get me or hurt me, only to help me.
Please do not get me wrong here.... I am in NO WAY trying to say that parentals are out to get me or want to hurt me.... I know their intentions were/are never to hurt me. But the truth is that hurting people hurt people, and most people in this world are hurting from one thing or another. I am simply saying that God's love is perfect! And I can trust in Him in ways that we sometimes cannot and should not trust in our human relationships, even parental ones.
So that being said.... I need to stop being afraid of a deep relationship with God the Father. And the only way I can see to do that, is to let down my guard and surrender to Him. I know I have tried to do this many ties. And I have written about doing this... many times. SO I am adding step two. Step one- surrender. Step two- DO NOT PICK BACK UP THAT WHICH IS SURRENDERED! Although step one is very hard, I think step two is much harder. Because, quite frankly, I am very good at picking back up whatever it is that I wanted to surrender.
Father GOD, I thank you that you are an ever patient God who loves me no matter how many times I fail. I thank you that I need to do nothing to warrant Your love. I thank you that You "love me just as I am, but You love me too much to leave me just where I am". Please fill me again this day with the power of Your Holy Spirit.... for I need YOUR strength and power to complete step two! Lord, help me as I shift my focus from myself to YOU... I love you, Lord Jesus! Amen.