I was given a pretty hefty slice of humble pie yesterday. While at the library with my boys, a mom with her daughter kept talking to me. I wasn’t overtly rude by any means, but I wasn’t really in the mood to chat. I had plenty of opportunities to really take interest in her, but unfortunately I didn’t take any. As she was leaving the room I was in, I overheard her mention something about church. In that moment I felt like my eyes opened to view an entirely different situation from the one I was in.
I frequently find myself giving into my flesh and yearning for others’ approval, fearing man and what they will think. I started asking myself, if I was in church how would I have acted around this woman? I have no idea what this woman believed, but if she did love Jesus what kind of picture of Him was I to her? The questions went deeper and I was allowed to see deeper depths into my self-righteousness and pride that I hadn’t seen before. I saw my love for myself instead of the Lord.
I struggled with this all day. I felt shame and guilt because of this new insight and yet knew that I wasn’t believing the gospel. I cried out to the Lord, confessing my unbelief and focus on myself instead of His truth and asked for grace to believe. He sweetly answered the cry of my heart. He pointed me to truth through friends and I was so thankful.
In my flesh, my mind was focused on the fact that I had sinned. I felt like I had disappointed God. That I should “be better.” I wanted to somehow make up for what I had done. The Lord started to help me understand, though, why He convicts us. He lovingly revealed to me that He convicted me and showed me my sin because He loves me too much to leave me in my self-focused state. He knows that He alone is the path to true life and joy, and unless I see that I have need of Him I would always stay focused on myself.
In Laurie’s introduction lecture to our new study “Jesus I Want to Love You” she discussed how the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength. And how because of that, the enemy wants nothing more than to keep us from doing that very thing. He wants to keep us from knowing the love He has for us because we can only love after knowing His love (1 John 4:19). I believe I saw a real picture of that yesterday and God graciously opened my eyes to the even greater reality of His love to me through His convicting me of my sin, not to condemn me or punish me, but to draw me nearer to Him.
I’m currently reading “Parenting” by Paul David Tripp and on a chapter about authority Tripp says, “Mom and Dad, you have no ability at all—by the tone of your voice, by the force of your personality, by your physical size, or by your threats—to deliver your children from their addiction to self-rule. If you had that power, Jesus and his work would not have been necessary. But Jesus does have the power. He cares so much about the dark delusion of self-rule that lives in the hearts of all of our children that he literally gave his life so that they would be rescued and this bondage broken,” (pg. 114-115). I’m so much more like my two year old than I realize. My two year old wants to be ruled by self, but so do I. I was praying today about how to be a picture of God to my children. I was asking the Lord to really help me understand His authority and how He parents me. I was telling Him that I didn’t want to just fall back into my flesh and exert my will to make my children conform to some moral ideal because I didn’t want to sacrifice a relationship with them in order to make them “good.” I don’t just want to care about the exterior behaviors of my children, I want to care for and nurture their hearts, drawing them near to me and my husband and then even more so drawing them near to God. It was as I was praying this that the Lord helped me see that that is in fact why He convicts me of sin. I’m not to feel condemnation or guilt. My sin has been paid for and covered, yes, but even more than that I am free to have relationship with God because of it. He doesn’t want me to just be “good.” He doesn’t focus on just my exterior behaviors for the sake of His name, otherwise He would have made me perfect this side of heaven (I do wonder a lot about why He wouldn’t just do that ha!), but I’m seeing how relational God is. He doesn’t need me to not sin, be perfect and have it all together. He wants me to see my need of Him because He sweetly knows that that is what my soul needs more than anything in this whole world—that’s how I was created. And He draws me near. I felt as if I really tasted the refreshment of His living water like if I was in a desert land (Psalm 63).
We can tend to have a lot of ideals about what Christians are supposed to be like in our culture. I try to put up facades all the time unfortunately. And when the façade wasn’t up, like when I was at the library, I saw and was reminded of the real me. But I also saw and was reminded of the real, living, loving God!
Planted for His Glory