Friday, January 30, 2015

Whenever my heart condemns me...

I don't know about you, but I oftentimes feel the frustration and angst Paul felt in Romans 7.

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate... For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep doing...
Romans 7:15, 18-19

As I read that passage, I enter into that wrestle between what my flesh desires vs. what the Holy Spirit presses me to do- what I know is wrong vs. what I know is obedient. It's a very hard and very real wrestle, one that only believers truly understand because the good vs. evil battle in the spiritual realm is exponentially magnified for those who confess and believe in Christ Jesus.

I was in my kitchen earlier today, leaning over the counter and just overwhelmed with the urge to slap or kick myself for the foolishness of sin that I keep seeking after. It's so easy and so comfortable for me to slip into patterns of idolatry and manipulation, as I try to control the outcome of my life in the way that I want it. I cry before the Lord, day in and day out, that where I am in life isn't exactly where I want to be. I cry the words, "I believe, Lord, help my unbelief!"

I sat in that condemnation and that frustration for a while. We've all been there. Those moments of panic; "Lord, will it always be like this?" Or the times of discouragement; "God- I've followed you for 21 years; why is the struggle still so prevalent?" The enemy loves these moments because he sees it as weakening the bride of Christ. I love that the Lord always has an answer of truth for the lies I believe.

As I was sitting in that shame, the Lord gently and lovingly spoke the words of 1 John 3 over me.

Whenever our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God.
1 John 3:20-21

I have felt the condemnation of my heart left and right as of late- in the mysterious realm of love and romance, I feel like a complete and utter failure. In the area of courage and strength of heart, the daily dose of tears goes to remind me that those are character traits I haven't mastered. In the hidden parts of my heart, the battle with pride and idolatry is real, and I often feel so discouraged that I will never be who I want to be. As I read what it means to love the Lord, I come to the realization that I don't love Him with the intimacy and depth that I long to. The list goes on and on. 

In each of those moments, the Lord has been to quick and sweet to remind me of my identity. 

I am chosen
I am adopted
I am redeemed
I am loved
I am His

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1

I'm not condemned, but I'm free. It's for freedom that Christ has set me free. I know this in my head, but it doesn't always connect to my heart. Those kitchen moments happen in my car, in my room, in my office. They happen for you too. In those times of guilt and shame- when your deceptive heart tells you how much you've failed, how far you have to go, how unworthy and unloveable you are, how prone to sin and wondering you are- there is the voice of Jesus Christ, reminding you of who you are in Him, reminding you of what He's done for you, reminding you of the joy, forgiveness, love, and hope He offers; that sure and steadfast anchor for your soul.

God is greater than my heart. He's greater than your heart, friend. And regardless the condition of your heart and the wrestle in your spirit, He knows, He forgives, He redeems, and for His children, He has promised the greatest of goods and the deepest of joys. He can be trusted.

Monday, January 5, 2015

In the hands of our Redeemer...

God does not waste anything.

That's been a phrase I've heard a lot over the past few months. I'm not sure if it's because it's been said more often than usual, or because I've been more aware and grasping for that truth. Regardless of the reasons, the Lord has been faithful and He's continually reminded me of His sovereign and loving hand.

Joel 2:25-26 says, "I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust have eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame."

When we take a good look at our lives, we all have things we wish were different. Feelings of guilt and shame flood you when you recall the years of walking in pervasive sexual sin; the twinge of regret is strong when you come face to face with the reality that you loved and lost; deep pain makes it difficult to breathe when you have flashbacks of the mother you lost to cancer or the infant who never made it to childhood; over-analyzing over missed opportunities or unfulfilled expectations can create a deep angst in you that makes sleep an impossible feat. There are things in life that, when look at through human lenses, don't make sense.

But we have a Redeemer.

Jesus Christ restores. Despite our sin, struggle, hurt, pain, frustration, disappointment, angst, He chose to come so that humanity would be restored. He chose to face suffering so we would know there is One who understands. He chose to take on the wrath of God so we, His children, would never full face that. He chose to humble Himself to humanity because of His great love for us.

The hope He offers reaches far beyond our circumstances. In the midst of our circumstances, Jesus is a better word, a better name. Our lives are not wasted; even the days and months and years that are filled with the "why's". They aren't wasted. They will be restored. They will be redeemed.

That is His promise.

The hurt that broke your heart
And left you trembling in the dark
Feeling lost and alone
Will tell you hope's a lie
But what if every tear you cry
will seed the ground where joy will grow

And nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted

It's from the deepest wounds
That beauty finds a place to bloom
And you will before the end
That every broken piece 
Is gathered in the heart of Jesus
And what's lost will be found again

And nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted

From the ruins, from the ashes
Beauty will rise
From the wreckage, from the darkness
Glory will shine

-Jason Gray- "Nothing is Wasted"