Monday, 16 September 2013

My weakness = His strength

I'm slowly coming to the realisation that the broken and weak me is far more ready to be molded and made useful by the Master than the 'all-together' me will ever be. It's a hard lesson to learn for this die-hard perfectionist. So often I avoid God in the moment of my weakness, without realising that those moments are where victory comes from. My utter weakness provides an opportunity for His strength to shine through without my pride getting in the way. Because when pride is properly kicked to the curb and I am at an absolute end of my tether, anything good, useful, or worthwhile that I do is clearly God and not me. Oh my foolish heart, when you want to run away and hide, when sin overwhelms and Satan condemns, run to the Rock of Ages.

I just looked up today
And realized how far away I am from where You are
You gave me life worth dying for
But between the altar and the door
I bought the lies that promised more
And here I go again

Lord, I know I let You down
But somehow, I will make You proud
I'll turn this sinking ship around
And make it back to You

But all my deeds and my good name
Are just dirty rags that tear and strain
To cover all my guilty stains
That You already washed away

All You've ever wanted, all You've ever wanted
All You've ever wanted was my heart
Freedom's arms are open, my chains have all been broken
Relentless love has called me from the start
And all You wanted was my heart

I was chasing healing when I'd been made well
I was fighting battles when You conquered hell
Living free but from a prison cell
Lord, I lay it down today

So I'll stop living off of how I feel
And start standing on Your truth revealed
Jesus is my strength, my shield
And He will never fail me

No more chains, I've been set free
No more fighting battles You've won for me
Now in Christ, I stand complete

-Casting Crowns

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

What counts the most:

I gave up long ago writing New Year's resolutions, but the last few years I've chosen a Bible verse instead to pray about and use as a goal throughout the year. For 2013 I chose a well-known passage from Philippians 3.

"But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

I chose this verse because I really wanted to focus on knowing Christ in a personal and real way. In the past, I've been so frustrated with how my preoccupation with self has interfered with my ability to seek, trust, and serve God. My prayer was that knowing Christ would transform the way I view life, the goals that I pursue and the dreams and plans for the future. That I would no longer be a prisoner to self, but that I would be free to see the world with God's eyes with his heart of love and compassion.

Well, God certainly has answered my prayers, but not in the way I thought He would. This year has been a hard journey so far. So many of the dreams, hopes, and plans that I had at the beginning of the year have fallen to pieces. People I loved and trusted have let me down. Sickness and  hard times have struck our family in different ways. I've often felt alone, scared, and completely not in control of the current situation.  

I  am beginning to realise that a 'happy' life is not found through being loved, accepted or successful. Rather a life of purpose is found through forsaking my dreams, self esteem and the rights that I think I have. But being the stubborn human being that I am, I hold on very tightly to the things I love in my little world. So God in his mercy strips it away until I am bare. By bringing me low, he gives me the key to reaching the heights. "For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it." Mark 8:35

Keith Green hit it on the spot in his song "Trials turn to gold" when he says,

"He's brought me low so I could know
the way to reach the heights. 
Forsake my dreams, my self esteem and give up all my rights. 
With each one that I lay down
a jewels placed in my crown
cause his love and the things above
is all we'll ever need."

Trials have their way of helping you see what really has lasting value and meaning in your life. I don't want to get to the end and see that I wasted my life pursuing temporary pleasures and joys that had no eternal value. So many of the things that I pursue are not bad in themselves; for example, getting the best grades, trying to please other people, or being mindful of my diet and weight. The problem lies when temporary things in this life distract me from using my time and energy to give to the things that have lasting value! 

So something to think about: Look at your life. What counts the most to you? Where does your energy and passion lie? Is it temporary or does it have eternal value?