10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”.
There is such freedom in the Word of God… but only if we can believe with our hearts and not just seek to understand with our minds
For me, the journey of recovery has been a long 4 1/2 years that started on January 3rd, 2011, and a difficult one at that. As I struggle with the transition from selfishness to selflessness I find myself ever-increasingly faced with the spiritual warfare found in the lies of who others told me I was in the childhood abuses and that now a fallen and increasingly broken world continues to echo around me.
With that has come a lifetime of addictions and self-justifications by placing blame on others as I became increasingly disappointed in how everyone fell short of my expectations; that they should somehow be responsible for filling the deep longings of my youth for connection, security, purpose and hope.
That is an unrealistic expectation. No person outside of Christ can fill our deepest need which is what all other needs stem from; a longing to be right with God.
It was modeled for me through the pursuits of pleasing my father so I could gain respect and thereby my worth (and not get hit) and seeking to please my mother to gain her affections and thereby my sense of belonging (and so she would stop trying to commit suicide and drink so much).
Sadly for so many of us, that worldly lesson of performance based earning of value and affection and a belief that we are responsible for how others treat us leads naturally to a desire to please and earn God’s favor in the same manner.
This however couldn’t be farther from the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
A heart and ministry poured out in pursuit of Christ can never hit the mark as deep as a life lived out in response to Christ.
Only a stance of brokenness, true humility and a palpable gratitude for God’s great sacrifice has the power to produce the deep, rich, authentic life-affirming self-worth and connection to God that we all yearn for.
The Fear: I’m On My Own
As I come to recognize how I’ve still been living in pursuit the last few years of something I felt I didn’t have (value and affection) I found a deeper bondage than the ones I left behind with the old addictions. For when we feel that God can only love us through the means that our earthly parents could, a deeper pain and emptiness can become our constant companion; the loss of faith in God.
We felt unlovable in the world, but now a new voice can emerge that says God either doesn’t love us or is too small to help us.
It is a spiritual deficit that no person, place or thing can medicate or eradicate. It is based on the very real truth that “I can’t make myself good enough for God” mixed in with the lie of Satan that says “therefore God can’t or won’t love me until I’m good enough”.
Oh the heartache and striving and lost time that can be the life-experience of someone thinking they can become worthy (please trust me on this point!).
At this place one is left with only one of two directions (which is where I find myself today); reject God (why keep trying – it’s too difficult) or come to fully surrender and trust that the Word of God correctly describes His character and my value through Him.
The Character of Christ
If we don’t understand the true character of God and the connective salvationary work of The Cross; if we can’t rejoice in our hearts that His Word, His Justification, His Sanctification – That His very Life, Death and Resurrection is the Promise which we obtain through our heart-felt belief, repentance and faith in Jesus, then we will be stuck; unable to grow or prosper beyond that point.
Without that belief in the redemptive work of Christ, a heart that has been rightfully separated from God through sin can never experience the covering of that deficit when looking upon the Holiness of God.
My intellectual ascensions into the Word of God’s became nothing more than all the other self-help, feel-good, self-realization psychobabble therapy, chemical induced quick-fixes that the world offered me as a replacement for the Cross of Christ.
I still have much work to do in this area. It seems mentally I have marveled at the “idea” of Christ” and have earnestly sought out deeper understanding of God’s Word and a greater awareness of the brokenness of my past and have found victory up to the point of being able to share my testimony and His grace with others… but I’m now starting to see that subconsciously I have still felt in my own heart that I’ve traveled too far for Grace to cover me.
The decades of idolatry and sin have written with broad strokes a mindset and a soul-level brokenness that developed in a hardness of mistrust yet I still yearn to be recognized and valued by those around me.
There is a stubbornness within me that is fighting the surrender of accepting the nearly unfathomable depths of God’s Grace and instead still leaning on a false sense of security and value from my family, my job, my church, my possessions, my wealth, my pleasures; all of which can never hold up under the pressures of living in a fallen and ever-darkening world intentionally separating itself from God.
The Good News
The tears never flow more freely than in those moments when I’m faced with a mere glimpse of the magnitude of our Heavenly Father’s incredible love for me exactly as I am.
It’s as if the reality of that Truth is too great and I push it out when it becomes too uncomfortable to accept a love and favor that I haven’t earned.
And the flip-side is a prideful self that when I do see His favor I believe it is because of something I have done to deserve it: “but of course, He’s only paying me my just-dues”. (That is quite humbling to say out-loud)
1 John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
All I can say is that we have all earned condemnation and that is the best we can ever hope to obtain on our own merits, and yet He continues to respond to our arrogance with His Righteousness and Grace.
The day of judgment is coming, but today we live under His protection and mercy.
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Oh how I long to just let God be on the throne and to rest in His embrace and trust that it is His plan that is unfolding for my life and those around me and that I don’t need to add my agenda to His.
Oh to trust that His work was sufficient, is sufficient, and forever will be sufficient to cover my deficit.
Father God how I wish I could get it right. How I long to be everything to my own son, to guide him, love him, encourage him, lift him up to You; and how short I feel like I fall in that endeavor. How I long for my life to point to You Lord yet it “feels” like I’m just hanging on for my own survival much of the time; too busy trying to help others find healing and fill me instead of just relying on and rejoicing in Your salvation for me. Lord, I relinquish my claim to the cross, my self-perceived entitlement to the throne. My heart aches over how I continue to rewrite the value You place on me with that of those in the world around me and the voices in my past; and how I stand in the way of what You are doing for me and others. These are not my conscious strivings Lord but the fallout of my years of self-sufficiency and survival without You in my life. Please Father continue to show mercy on me, and help me to be the man you created me to be, that I may lead and love those around me with not other agenda than for You to be glorified and that the lies and brokenness of my old self be placed forever in the grave so that I may live in the freedom You purchased. My heart hurts Lord and only you can heal it. I pray for all those who call upon Your name and know of Your healing yet like me may still be aching and searching for it in other places without realizing it. There are so many of us Lord, thank You that you allow us to find our own way through the darkness for only then will our testimony have any chance of helping others find their way to You. I am trusting and loving You Lord as best I know how. Thank you for Your patience, loving-kindness and mercy. To you alone be the Glory, in Jesus precious name I pray…