Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Deer in the headlights

I am always so disappointed to see how slowly I change and grow. It is a product of growing up in the west where product is what it is all about. It is also a manafestation of the sinful desire to be in control. I seem to struggle with the same issues again and again. That recurrence makes me anxious and I begin to search myself for the why and why not over an issue. The scrutiny only uncovers more issues which in turn breeds more anxiety or more likely for my temperment, depression. Then I begin to freeze. Almost like a deer paralyzed by headlights I cannot get my eyes off of my problems. I become completely self focused, miserable and totally fruitless.

This is what the scripture speaks of when we set our minds on the flesh and the mind set on the flesh is death. The flesh is all about the self whether it in its relationship to others, ourselves or to God. I happen to have a judging sort of flesh so I list to myself all sorts of standards I need to meet, hence the aforementioned self examination. I am so convincing I even tell myself, "The Lord could make better use of me if I didn't have this issue." A good motivation, yes? It leads to death.

The word says implicitly that God will complete what He began in each of us and that He predestined us to be conformed to the image of Christ. I am convinced that what I do hinders that process because of my desire to control, be instantly gratified and feel better about myself, which is basically pretending to BE God.

Again and again we are called to do exactly the opposite of our nature: to surrender, to offer ourselves up, to relenquish control. It is a great paradox as most of God's principles are. It is not a place of "letting go and letting God" (I hate the phrase because it is a lie), but it is a place of becoming a child looking into the eyes of the Father waiting expectantly for what He wants to create in each of our lives. We are His workmanship.

1 comment:

wren said...

There is a wonderful scene in the movie Chariots of Fire in which Abrams, during a race before the Olympics, glances ever so slightly to the side to see where his competitors are located. His trainer, showing Abrams a film of the race, verbally pounces on his pupil and declares, "That glance cost you the race."

In Hebrews 12:1-3 we are told exactly where to fix our focus. Like Abrams, when we shift our glance to our own progress in the race, we falter, we stumble, we lose confidence, we lose time.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us we have work to do. We can pick almost any of the New Testament books to find a list of work outlined for us to do. In Hebrews 13:1-3, for example, notice how the work itself draws our eyes away from ourselves and to the lives of others.

The angst that introspection causes us will not occur when our focus is fixed on Jesus. Look at Hebrews 13:15-16. Our eyes on Jesus produce words of praise about Him. Other than that, our focus is on looking for good tings to do for others and to share with others in order to please God. As if anticipating your very concern, the writer of Hebrews reassures us in verses 20-21 that God will equip us to do what He has called us to do. We don't need to worry, we simply need to praise Him and serve others.

Andre Seu, a writer for World Magazine, wrote a thought provoking article a few months ago listing the flaws in some of the major men in ministry in the history of Western Civilization. A few of them, like Spurgeon, were plagued by severe bouts of depression. One seemed to have an almost formal, business-like manner with his wife. I cannot remember the other examples, but her point was that each of the men she cited was a flawed clay pot. The glory of God was dazzling in that He could (and did) use these men at all. The men had flaws that would have prompted any of us to have rejected them on the assembly line as unfit for service. Because the men, however, persevered inspite of themselves, we remember their sermons and work. Only researchers remind us of their flaws.

When I was a student away at school, I attended a church whose pastor stuttered. As he began his first sermon, I was horrified. How could he preach?! To my utter amazement, as he entered his sermon either his stuttering stopped or I never noticed it again. The Lord used that man to preach the Word, and the congregation heard the Word, not the stutter. That's what our lives should be like. We should not focus on our flaws, failures, slow growth except when we need to confess and repent. Then, believing I John 1:9, we should pick up a mop, a broom, a basin of water, or whatever deed of mercy or goodness we find before us and offer our service in it to Him with praise and with joy.