It wasn’t long after the Lord used Ellen to draw me back into relationship with Him (see “Rescue”) that I realized I wasn’t well. Sound teaching from the pulpit revealed to me that I had a heart condition. My focus on self and my view of God as a cosmic Santa Claus would send me straight back to darkness if not remedied. I needed discipleship and in-depth Bible study.
Thankfully, God provided both.
The issue of unrelenting facial pain remained. Deep, spiritual questions continued to hang over me. I prayed for clarity of thought and direction. And, yes, I still prayed for healing.
The Spirit began to reveal a vital truth to my heart. I realized that years ago I had unknowingly entered a strings-attached relationship with God. I have no doubt that my decision for Christ was genuine because I had experienced the Holy Spirit’s transforming power, but I had placed conditions on God. My cosmic Santa Claus needed to deliver the goods in order for me to be content. My focus had been on what He could do for me, on His fulfillment of my wants and dreams.
In that self-focus I had found disillusionment. I had lacked joy. It was mere existence and not the promised victorious living I had expected. Having walked that empty road for years, I desperately wanted a change in direction.
Lord, I don’t want to merely exist. What must I do to truly live?
I was directed to a discipleship study that I wish had been available to me in my early years of faith in which the words of Jesus spoke to my heart: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (Mark 8:34-35)
I also began to contemplate the lives of His disciples. They walked away from relationships, careers, and reputation to follow Jesus. They gave it all. Their lives were marked with trial, persecution, and martyrdom. What made me see myself as any more worthy of comfort or blessing than those precious original few?
It’s not about me. I was created and saved for His purposes and glory. Most importantly, I realized that He owes me nothing. Jesus has already done more for me on the cross than I deserve. If He were never to do anything else for me, gratitude must rule my heart.
At this point I determined to cut the strings, to surrender all. It just may be that God has an eternal purpose for my pain. While I will always remain open to His healing touch, I decided to choose to trust Him and be content in the midst of the pain.
Oh the joy of renewed focus! Oh the joy of sweet fellowship!
Do you have strings? Are you in a conditional relationship with God? Do those conditions foster anger or resentment and hinder your fellowship with Him? Are you less than wholly focused on His purpose for your life?
It sounds like weakness, but you’ll not possess total peace and strength until you totally trust in His sovereignty. Rest in Him and find true purpose.
Joy in Jesus,