“For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” ~ Hebrews 10:14
“Worry reveals our allegiances. Fear and worry are not mere emotions; they are expression of what we hold dear. They reveal the loyalties of our hearts. If we know Christ and have affirmed him our allegiance to him, worry is a sign that we are trying to have it both ways.” ~ Welch
Every time I sit to write it is an attempt to, by the Spirit of God, to put into words what He is teaching me. I cannot still fathom His gentle care and that He sees me, hears me and draws me close. He draws me close when I am running to what is comfortable and self-preserving for my flesh. These several weeks have been the most wondrously raw as I have been thoroughly examining my heart with psychiatry, counseling, my beautiful relationships and my entrusted husband. There have been certain questions that have shattered my heart and forced layers to be drawn back to expose an uncomfortable raw and bareness of my soul. My vile roots are exposed, and these questions have prodded more than I could imagine. I will go through them one by one and if you make it to the end, I deeply appreciate you, brother and sister.
1. Our union with Christ defines our identity. Chosen. Holy. Beloved. (Colossians 3:12). Do you believe those things about yourself?
The actions of seeking deliverance from noise while pining for perfection, toiling for affirmation and chasing achievement. That seems like the main desire and goal of every single day in my life. The root of the issue is, however, that I seek deliverance from noise with my hands, heart and mind. I seek deliverance by countering it with earthly standards and affirmation, as if I long to be a friend of the world. We proclaim that we love the Lord our God with all our heart, but we do not and do not truly love Him with all of our mind. Even though we cannot love him fully with either in our depravity, that is where the bridge is separated between allowing Christ to be your shield in deliverance or reaching exhaustion through vain toil for it.
I have learned a lot lately through the grace of Christ that I do not indeed love him with all of my mind as I claim to, or as I had believed to. For if I loved Christ with all of my mind, I would not believe that I am more powerful and more sufficient in my own life, in my own works and in my own deliverance. Now you may not think that this is true in your life whatsoever. You may say, for I love my God with all of my heart, soul, strength and mind! Brothers and sisters, I am learning the heart shattering revealing truth of how deep our depravity goes. How unfathomably deep our self-sufficiency lies and our desire to deliver ourselves from the evil one. We behave as if we have not been foreknown, predestined, called, justified and glorified.
BUT: Our union with Christ defines our identity. Chosen. Holy. Beloved. (Colossians 3:12). Do you believe those things about yourself? I truly do not, for the world is too much of a friend to me. Herein lies a heart issue – unbelief in who the God of the universe says that I am. Unbelief in the gospel that I claim to believe and yield my entire allegiance to. Yet, this Kingdom is God’s. It is not ours. Nothing we own belongs to us, but everything, every dollar, opportunity, etc. is His and it is our job to steward it well. I have realized the heart behind all of this truly is the fear of tomorrow, the unknown. Seeing opportunities and uncertainty in the future and not knowing their outcome. Seeing failure occur before I take a step, crippled before I even try and tears and nausea without moving forward. This is how I have been living for my entire life ~ toiling, working my fingers down to the bone attempting to prepare for something that God has already delivered me from. His deliverance may not look how we would prefer it to or how the outcome we dream of is. However, we can be assured that it is in perfect accordance with His daily care and deliverance in accordance with this sanctifying work in our lives. He sees us and draws us near because it is finished.
2. In whom do you trust?
Yes, sin is still our enemy, but it is not our master. I desire to trade my desire to be self-sufficient to be God-sufficient. I am comforted that I can be God-sufficient because of my identity in Him, for He has said that I am chosen, holy and dearly loved. We think of the command of perfection and what it truly means. We face the truth that we will never reach perfection in this life, yet we all have our own individualized perception of it that we believe must be met. Dividing us between two kingdoms. Everything we think, say and do reveals our kingdom allegiances. We are either wholly with our LORD and Savior, or we are submitted to Satan and his temptations to be of this world. There is no middle ground, no complacency and no exception if we are in Christ. Either God is our master, or the world is. It is time to choose sides. This kingdom conflict rages within us deeper than we ever want to admit. Right now, I know that my life is split more down the middle than I would ever want to admit. Shame crowds me for unraveling mental illness surges in me to irrationally strive to heal on my own terms. To achieve on my own terms. To love on my own terms. To live on my own terms.
“The kingdom is a field that grows, the tiniest mustard seed that becomes the largest of all the garden plants, the yeast that gradually but thoroughly permeates the loaf and transforms it. The kingdom unfolds this way in our own personal lives and in history. So, when in doubt about how to seek first the kingdom, choose the path of persistence and endurance. Don’t wait for the occasional spectacular might acts of today.” ~ Welch
The pure truth is that we (I) need to put off unbelief, fear, my own agenda, self-sufficiency, and my self-righteous attitude. The posture in which we live is evidence if we are growing in Him or not. It is time for us to really chew on this question:
3. Who decides what is good enough?
My answer is without a doubt ~ myself. Yet, He accepts my imperfections because he created them. However, my imperfections cannot be seen by the world or ruin my well-crafted plan of perfectionism. I know that right now I am rooted in what pleases myself. I am chasing impossibly high standards of performance, imposing them on others, coupled with the inability to attain them leading to the deep feelings of failure. I am more focused on myself than grace, which means I am denying myself the freedom to fail. Just as my relationship with God cannot be performance based, my relationship with myself cannot be performance based. My process and purpose here are not to successfully fulfill my own expectations, but is sanctification because my only purpose is to look like Christ. I need to read that again for my own safety: my process and purpose here are not to successfully fulfill my own expectations, but is sanctification because my only purpose is to look like Christ. We have the full assurance and promises that He is perfect in his faithfulness. He is perfect in everything he does, his law, his suffering and sacrifice. His infinite perfection is the welcoming foundation for our depraved imperfections. He is perfect and we are not and that is a good thing. In fact, His grace and power are made PERFECT in our weaknesses and imperfections. Therefore, we do not have to be and must accept that we cannot be. We have full permission to walk in the freedom to fail every single day, crushing our temporal expectations.
His atoning blood was more than sufficient.
4. Are the standards that I hold myself to biblical?
Our service to the LORD is to live for His glory and not our own glory. However, the desire for the approval of others is rooted in myself alone. My heart issues are what produces worry and fear of failure. My daily anxieties are misusing my God given energy in the present. I make light my desire for complete control and achievement over every situation. My vulnerability points to myself. I am more focused on myself than the grace of God because I deny myself the freedom to fail. Therefore, the standards I hold myself to every single day are not biblical. The unfortunate truth to face is that a little leaven leavens the whole lump. SO:
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” ~ Galatians 5:16-25
My very life is in Him and is an ongoing process. Of this I am confident and sure. This process is possible because of the freedom we have in Christ. The work of Christ is good enough. It is MORE THAN GOOD ENOUGH. When we love God with all our hearts and minds, we can believe that it is finished. We will never reach full sanctification on earth, but He shows grace to us by revealing our misplaced affections to us. As we walk in Him, we gradually strive away from gratifying the desires of the flesh. The anxious soul longs for this process of no longer feeling anxious to be immediate. My soul longs to wake up and not panic. My mind longs to not be stuck in a depressive rut without hope. I long to wake up and not be controlled by these things. Yet we know that we are called to wait with patience. We are to wait for not all earthly deliverance, but our heavenly one. For that is when all will be made new because it is finished. That is to be our standard, faithfulness in today.
5. The violent wrath of God fell on him on account of our sin he willingly bore. Isn’t this enough?
But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. ~ 2 Corinthians 3:16-18
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” ~ Romans 8:1
How can this not be enough for us? The truth is: I am saved. I am being saved and I will be saved into the newness of life. Therefore, the eternal must be more important to our hearts and minds than the temporary. Following His commands to love His word and live in accordance with it must be more important to us than our own individual agendas. For on the cross He did not just bear our sin, but the entire wrath of God on behalf of our sins. I must remind myself constantly that we are called to sanctification in weakness and suffering, but we have not suffered unto death. We are called to obedience in all circumstances, but we have not been called to obedience to death for our own atonement. For it is finished. Once and for all.
All our striving, covetousness, earthly desires, pining for achievement and affirmation, the desire to control every aspect of our lives is proclaiming that the death of Christ on our behalf is not enough. We unveil the posture of our hearts that act as if the most sacrificial, substitutionary propitiation does not measure up to our earthly standards. Examine your heart.
6. Does what I am doing have eternal value or is it meeting my temporal standard?
I did not realize that my fears and worry were so much about His Kingdom and my lack of faith in it. He wants us to grow. I cannot keep living and thinking I can do everything on my own. For He is the food. He has already delivered me today from every moment in His sovereign care. Therefore, fear and worry cannot continue as the stage in my life. I am prone to daily forget this truth and therefore I do. Look at the work of Christ on your behalf if you are in Him and truly ask yourself if your new life in Him is informing how you live.
There is a deep painful, crippling conflict raging in my soul that knows the truth. But I cannot seem to bridge the gap with my own perfectionism. It feels impossible to bring my thoughts captive to obey Christ, yet I cannot do so on my own power. That is the journey I am on and the journey I continually pray for grace, wisdom and growth in because:
IT IS FINISHED. PERIOD.
“God, open my ears. I don’t clearly hear your care and compassion when you tell me not to worry or to be afraid, but I know they are there. Father, open my eyes. I act like I can see all reality. I act like I can see even more than you do. But I am seeing now that there is an entire world that is blurry to me, and that world is you. It is you I don’t see well. I want to trust in what you say and see the things you have revealed. That leaves me no choice but to start with humility. This is the way that all journeys with you begin. Please teach me humility so that what you say overrules how I feel.” ~ Welch