For Christ sent me . . . to preach the gospel. I Corinthians 1:17
And just what did Paul mean by the ‘the gospel’? Perhaps, not preach the process of sanctification. Not preach doctrine, rules, morality. Not preach, ‘be ye holy.’ Not dwell on the problems in our lives. Not demand a blessing from God. But rather preach the gospel, the reality of the Redemption made possible in Jesus Christ.
Take ourselves out of the equation. Focus on – hope in – stand firm because of Jesus our Savior. Our Redeemer, and our Lord.
My life the past few days, I’m afraid has been the antithesis of those words. Knowing in my head that I cannot do anything (anything of eternal significance, anything in obedience to what God asks, or begin to live out the gospel) without God’s vision and help. Not hear, follow, obey . . not speak, lead, minister . . . nothing on my own.
Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord. Zechariah 4:6
So why the dichotomy within my soul? Why power, at-homeness, complete reliance on God one day. And a day later, feelings of self-doubt, failure, despair.
One day, pray. Listen. Hear direction. Ask God for help. Speak. Lead. Hear words of affirmation about my speaking, leadership, contagious passion for the work.
Next day, my inner critical spirit (my life’s companion, self belittlement) raises its ugly head again. Self doubt. Fruitless comparison with others. Doubting my ability to focus, remember, stay on track, speak words I prepared. Questions. Wearisome, vicious cycle begins again.
Oh God, that is so human, so me, so sinful. So prideful, thinking there is no way You can overcome all of the human frailties within me and use me. I confess and I am so sorry. So sick of that inner turmoil. Heal me, save me from myself.
Oh God, You come. You rescue. You empower.
When we turn to you, abide in you, ask you for help, You pick up the pieces of our hearts, shattered by the failures and struggles of life. You throw them back onto your potter’s wheel and remake us into your image. One more time . . .
You gently remind us that it was never about us (me) in the first place. Not about our appearance before others, our words, our ‘togetherness’, our fitting in, our being accepted or pleasing others.
It is about Your likeness, O God. Your image. Your character. Your grace, love, mercy, faithfulness, presence reflected in us, in our broken earthen vessels. In vessels that to the world may just look a lot more like You than we could ever imagine. And our arrogance that might come if we saw, is held at bay as we nestle into your heart.
O God, this day empty me of me and fill me with you. For only in that act of denying myself will I ever come close (not to looking like them, pleasing them, compelling them) to looking like You.
Only in that will your redeeming spirit be unmoved by my shortcomings.
Only in that will I be unmoved by my surroundings, pain, fears, circumstances, loneliness, hurts, self-doubts or even despair that crop up at the most unexpected and inexplicable times.
And perhaps, only by that prayer and Your grace, will I be enabled as the Apostle Paul to ‘welcome heartbreaks, disillusionments, tribulation’ . . . and do so for one reason only, knowing that those are things which will keep me in unmoved devotion to the Gospel of God, to Jesus Christ. (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, February 1)
Unmoved, fully devoted to Jesus.
Unmoved, proclaiming Him as the One who redeems, the One who wants to redeem the whole world.
Unmoved, continuing to believe that He can make all the difference . . . in all our days.