James 1:26 26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Before Christ I lived for myself, either as a prodigal running from the demons and hurts of the past through drugs and alcohol and pursuit of good times, or like Solomon, through will-power getting and staying sober for 14 years but spending that time in pursuit of money, accolades through career, expensive vacations, nice cars, toys like motorcycles and video games.. It has always been about me either running from something or toward something.
I finally realized after decades of trying that nothing I had achieved in over 40 years had worked to fill the God sized hole in my heart. My external life was a success by many world standards but my inner life was dead, and I actually reached the point of thinking the outer self would be better off dead too, it was a dark time.
But on January 3rd, 2011 from a place of utter brokenness I dropped to my knees and cried out to Jesus, claiming His death and resurrection was for me personally so I could have new life. I didn’t have any expectation that that was going to change anything, but boy was I wrong.
I had no idea that I was going to enter a journey of what seems like self-induced hardship. A battle that never seems complete, the battle to root out all forms of selfishness, resentment, blame, pride, ego and idolatry.
No more drinking and drugging to escape the worries of the day, no more giving in to sexual impurities to fill the emotional emptiness that hides secretly down inside the soul that says you’re all alone. No more striving to accumulate things to feel secure about the future.
God’s gracious and powerful plan of redemption is to be completely reborn, to experience rivers of flowing water, to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.
Learning can be fun, albeit definitely emotionaly difficult as the truth to my own behaviors, beliefs and actions come to light. I love to learn, and reading God’s word, going to bible studies, actually listening in church to the pastor’s message, these have all been very rewarding; 2 years of aha! moments.
I had no idea that all the wisdom I was gaining was only the schooling, then comes the real work, to take our faith, our understanding of God’s plan and purpose for our lives and actually DOING something with it.
Our life has to change on the outside if we have any hope of reflecting what God is doing on the inside. This verse (and dozens if not hundreds like it) call us to be DOERS of the word, not just hearers.
This is where I find myself today, last strongholds hanging on tightly, beckoning me to take the easy way out… “you don’t have to do that today, tomorrow is a new day”, “God is a loving and forgiving God, He knows how hard your struggle is, one more time won’t change the universe”, “you’ve been the way you are for so long, you can’t change”, “look at where’s you’ve been, and you think you have something to offer now? ha ha, yea right”…
These and more poisons of doubt continue to whisper that I’m no good, not worthy of the glory God has planned. But it is all lies.
The way we show our love for God is by loving others. To care for those who are in greater need than ourselves. To pour out our hearts, our efforts, our money, our time to kingdom causes.
This is not easy, for a life filled with the pursuit of selfish things is in complete contrast to a life poured out for others, simply because it is the right thing to do.
The world is selfish, it’s ways are self-seeking. Obtain greater respect, reach higher levels, upgrade your existing stuff to better stuff, hang on to what you have so you have enough to take care of yourself.
God’s ways are completely unselfish, Jesus poured out His entire life, even unto death for us, the sinner who repents and seeks after His ways. To simply learn “about” Him is not enough, we must strive to be like Him in all our ways.
The walk must match the talk. The time has come for me to quit relying solely on the words of the wisdom God has placed in my heart, for without a life poured out for others, without a life that is completely devoid of conscious rebellious sin, there is no evidence of salvation, only lip service that heaps on the shame and reveals our true ignorance.
This is where I am…
Father God you know my heart, you know my self-will, you know my struggles. I profess that I am all in then battle to surrender the deepest of strongholds, selfishness and control. I continue to try and do this walk “our” way, and not Your way. Lord it is true what you wrote, that the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Help me Father God surrender all that I am to you, not just through profession but through my actions, my direction, my steps. Let my hands and heart become servants of the most Holy, give me the thoughts and desire that glorify you, that my life may reflect that of a disciple that I claim to be. Words and wisdom are no longer sufficient for me, nor do I believe the are sufficient for you. It is the foundation that sets us free, but then comes the challenge to live free. I desire to be that man that makes a difference in the world that I influence Lord. Empty out my shallow self-centered goals and open my eyes to the kingdom goals that you have in front of me. Destroy my fear, over-power my weaknesses, place boldness in my steps. In Jesus’ name…
I am one
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But I can still do something;
And because I cannot do something
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
Excerpt from For Such a Time As This by Ray C Stedman