I am going on 21 years and this past one has daily unveiled one of my worst habits in a multitude of ways. Our hearts were intricately designed for worship. However, the amount of time our hearts spend a day worshiping our Creator is treacherous. Therefore, my hands toil and spin. My heart works ceaselessly for man. My mind longs for affirmation, productivity and that self-sufficient glory to my name. In fact, I am the one that Luke 12 addresses, “O you of little faith!”
I am intrigued by the infinite brokenness as a human being. I am intrigued by the truth that there is nothing in me that I capable of making a righteous, biblical and holy thought, intention and decision. I cannot bear anything fruitful apart from the Vinedresser who lavishes life upon us, when I deserve an endless wrath.
This is ever present in that not only myself, but the fallen human race long to carry out our own plan. Who speak of their mouth that their allegiance is wholly to God, but the unfathomable sin of the flesh follows otherwise. We meekly ask for direction, but plead and beg for mercy and compassion when it does not align with our own. We forget that this life is not ours, I am not my own, my direction is not above all. In fact, the steps I long to take are created in me by nothing holy and righteous, but solely manifested by living and thinking of the world. When before the foundation of the world, we were predestined for adoption as sons. We were taken out of this world to live apart from it. However, my heart and soul fights to stay within it to bring just a little glory to my own name.
Through immense prodding of my heart and soul by ancient words I have come face to face with the painful and heartbreaking questions of who controls you? Where do you truly put your trust? Why are you so consumed with yourself? Through endless pursuit of my heart, for all work is done by God, not one iota by the flesh, the truth became clear. As Welsh said, “I am an idol factory. I wanted to worship something or someone that would give me glory. Not too much glory of course. Just enough to make me feel good about myself.”
This. This is the underlying vileness that facilitates infinite sin branching in all different directions. The source of idolatry not only is sin in itself, but will directly cause unfathomable depths of sin as a result. I have found that it is a little too easy to look upon the Israelites and the people of Judah and question their adulterous nature in idolatry to the works of their hands. The truth will overtake you when your mind tries to grasp the immense truth that we do the same. Every. Single. Day. In every aspect of our lives we focus our decision, intentions, actions, words, etc. on satisfying our flesh’s craving for the glory of man over the glory of God.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfected of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Jesus never once sought glory for himself, only for His Father. There was never once where he grumbled or complained. He did not allow anything to hinder himself from completing the sovereign plan of God. He ran with endurance, an unwavering, unfathomable endurance.
Discipline can be very painful seasons of pruning, but think the powerful truth that you have never been tested to the point of shedding your blood as Jesus did on the cross. Our lives are to be full of sacrifice for the one true King, the Lord of our lives, not self-sacrifice to fulfill the desires of the flesh. More so than not as we are disciplined our paths change, our life is transitioned. Or it is one moment or one day where we experience affliction only for growth. However, the changes of our lives are always held in our hands because of our nature. We cling to what is seen, not to what is unseen. For we fear losing the very thing in which we find our self-sufficiency and satisfaction. We cling to the very thing that allows us to be weakly faithful, while bringing just a little glory to our own name.
I daily learn that discipline is real, it is beautiful, it is pure, it is true, just, praiseworthy, and excellent. However, discipline is also painful, hurtful, confusing and perplexing. This paradox is the most unspeakably promising narrow path for the human soul. Once called by God there can be no other way. We are not called to suffer in our path to the point of shedding our blood as Christ did on the cross. The cup did not pass from him, and our cup, our purpose will not pass from us. For we have the promise in Philippians that Christ will complete his work in us. In fact, it will be drawn to completion.
As a son and daughter of the most High we are to fear the Lord as we begin to grasp the depths of His merciful forgiveness. With our entire heart, soul and mind we must walk alongside our Savior in a divine reverence that cultivates a determination to turn from our broken desires. Oh the grace of God! It cannot be forgotten that our timing is not the perfect timing of God. In that our souls must wait patiently, tirelessly and wholeheartedly in joyful reverence for the Lord. Living then in a way of full trust, reliance and obedience in accordance with His word. However, this is not what the flesh wants. In fact, our flesh desires to do evil. The work of God alone is what gradually, radically and purposefully prunes the unfruitful nature of our being.
7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
One of the most common sources of our brokenness is once again our desire for glory. Once we are more self- aware, we then begin to seek just as Welch. We cling to the idols in our lives that provide us not with too much glory, but just enough to keep us fueled by the approval of man. However, Paul is painting a different picture in his letter to the Philippians. One that lays bare the heart to the truth that everything that we gain on this side of eternity is meaningless. In fact, he counts it as a loss. The very things that our vile flesh clings to for just a little glory has no value in eternal weight. Even with this knowledge and self-awareness we continue to cling with our lack of strength to fill our cup with the glory of man.
We must remove the worldly lens in which we view our circumstances. We must crucify man’s thoughts, opinions, words and actions. It is vital that our souls cling with whole-hearted confidence to the promises and deliverance that are guaranteed in Christ Jesus. A deliverance that we do not yet understand. Our minds must be overflowing with confidence that Christ is all, alone our surpassing with. There is nothing in this world that can compare. In fact, the very thing we cannot seem to let go of, is most likely the very thing that we must. Nothing will happen by random chance. Nothing is as out of control as it may appear to be. In fact, these times are molding us into who we could not be without them. Who we could not be otherwise.
In Luke 12 we are provided a depiction of why we must run with endurance, even when we may see not earthly good. “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (v. 32). Our heavenly Father has authored every breath of our lives. His plan is perfect in every single aspect. So perfect that I repeat Luke 12: 28 to myself constantly in reminder that I am of little faith. In all honesty, my plan is irrelevant, one of no value. Yet my hands toil and spin. As adopted children into the Kingdom of God there is one thing we must do. Seek his kingdom above all else. Only then will the vile, desires of our flesh begin to be crucified. Then the desires of our heart and our feeble feet may desire and walk in accordance with his living and active word that he so lovingly provides us.
Martin Luther once said, “Who am I? That I should lift up my eyes to raise my hands to divine majesty? The angels surround him. At his nod the earth trembles. For I am dust and ashes and full of sin and I am speaking to the living, eternal and true God.”
“This is the way, walk in it.”- Isaiah 30:21