I like to think. I like to assess. I like to figure out, ‘why?’ about myself and situations. I think that’s why I enjoyed Psychology so much in school, because it was always exploring the ‘whys’ of human behavior.
Sometimes this gets me into trouble. I overanalyze things rather than going with my gut, which occasionally leads me to do more harm than good. Though sometimes, my gut will do just the same.
This part of my nature causes me to generally be very in-tune with myself. I know when something is amiss in my physical or spiritual life. When I get that feeling, I think about it. I try to figure out what it is and where it’s coming from. But, sometimes it takes me a little while to put my finger on it.
For the past several weeks, I’ve been having some issues after we turn out the lights to go to sleep. That is the time of day when I am most susceptible to questioning, giving in, losing battles, getting discouraged, etc. and sometimes it keeps me up at night. Recently, my struggles have come so far that I actually feel physical repercussions of them. I feel weight in my chest, fear gripping me, helplessness, uncertainty, vulnerability. That’s new for me.
Sure I’ve felt all those things before, but not like this. I always felt them within the comfort of external things like: mom and dad downstairs if I need them, my roommate in the other bed if I need to talk, my analyzing brain, my husband right next to me. They could help me solve my problems.
One of the things the Lord has been teaching me this year is to forgo relying on those external things for my help in times of need and to rely fully on him. Not to downplay the importance of those relationships and the way the Lord uses them, but to emphasize that the Lord should be the first one that I run to.
But what if the Lord is what I’m afraid of? What if my understanding of Him has gotten so messed up that He’s not my place of comfort any more? What if my heart feels shriveled and dry and unable to be reassured?
The funny thing is, that’s just it. I don’t question my faith, I question the Lord’s faithfulness. I know that I believe in and love Jesus with my whole heart regardless of whether it feels shriveled or not. I know that. But what if he strikes me down.. what if when I die, I find out he’s not going to save me. He’s not going to save me because I wasn’t good enough, because actually, it does all depend on me.
Stop. Ok, how many times have you heard the gospel?
At least in the hundreds, and I love it every time.
Ok, so tell me how it goes..
We were created to be good, full, beautiful people. To commune wholly with our God and Father. To be close to him, to praise him in his nearness, to see him, sense him, to flawlessly love him. That’s how we were supposed to be. But, we couldn’t do it. In our fleshliness, we wanted what he had. We wanted to see and know and to be praised.
And we fell. The human race fell. We fell into blindness, helplessness, bondage, distance, death, sin. We fell into an uneasiness with a Holy God. We dirtied ourselves, tattered our clothes, starved and neglected ourselves, but still wanted to approach the King.
So he gave us some rules. We had to make up for our mistakes and follow his rules if we still wanted to meet with him. But it was really hard. Impossible. How could one person keep track of so many things? What if the priest made a mistake? Everyone else is relying on him, what if he does it wrong? But we need the Lord.
Then Jesus came. He came and showed us that we were even more in debt than we understood. It wasn’t just about following those rules on the outside, it was about following them on the inside, in our souls. Our very beings needed to know and understand these rules and their significance in order to make up for the mistakes we had made. And that is hopeless. Even more impossible than before.
But. We are not hopeless are we. We don’t have to be in bondage or blind or distant anymore. There is relief. That’s what Jesus did. He followed the rules perfectly with his entire being. He knew what it was to have fleshliness and he overcame it. He was stronger. He never once broke any of the rules. He remained in perfect communion with God from the confines of a fallen world.
And then, he did the unthinkable. He took his perfection and smeared it with our dirt. He wore our tattered clothes, he claimed our starvation and neglect as his own. By his choice. He allowed himself to suffer the blindness, helplessness, bondage, distance, death, sin that he never had to know. He never had to know it because he didn’t deserve it like we did. He didn’t earn a bit of that condemnation. But he took it. He took it all before a Holy God and said, ‘it is mine.’
His perfection wiped us clean. He made the most uneven, unfair, unbelievable trade the world has ever known. He paid our debt knowing fully we could give him nothing in return. It was free. Our debt is paid regardless of how many times we struggle with the same sin. It is paid no matter how much we get confused and fear the same Lord that is our salvation. It is paid no matter what. Forever.
That is what I believe. Jesus took my imperfection and gave me his perfection. I can stand before the King and be me, in all of my grime and muck, because the King’s Son, the true royalty, wants me to be there. He made it possible. He made it so I can know my God the way I was meant to, to be near him, to sense him, to love him. He made it so I can look forward to a day when I will do this flawlessly. When the entirety of creation will do this flawlessly.
And that is beautiful.
Remember? Remember how none of it ever depended on you?
Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Let your fears be stilled and feel sweet relief. You cannot be good enough, I promise. You will always fail, just like me. The Lord is not going to strike me down and he’s not going to close the gates of Heaven on me because I wasn’t good enough. He knows I’m not good enough better than I do at one o’clock in the morning when I’m worrying about it. He knows that Jesus was good enough and that I have trusted Jesus to be good enough for me. And that Jesus, he is my life and breath and comfort, and he will bring me through and fill my shriveled heart.