A friend and I were talking about some deep things recently. In the course of the conversation we discussed the need to examining our lives. To look deeply at ourselves to see what areas need change, adjustment, confession. This precious friend laughed and stated that she did her best to avoid this kind of thing. As she was laughing, she admitted she wasn’t sure she really wanted to know these things.
Looking at who we are, acknowledging our sin and struggle, can be hard. It is for me. But it’s the only way to learn to walk in freedom and joy. Those things we hide only hinder our walk. Freedom comes as we confess and run into the grace we’ve been given through Jesus. We don’t have to hide. We are loved so very much.
While my friend may say that she avoids the deep difficult things, I see proof that she is examining and listening. I hear her honest confessions and desire to walk in His ways. She may think she tries to avoid the hard, but I’ve watched her faithfully walk out some very hard things. I have seen her stand when she might have wanted to fall. She’s tougher than she thinks. And she often challenges me by her willingness to be honest and transparent about her own weakness and sin.
Why do we hide ourselves from others? Why do we struggle to feel like we are enough?
Why do we feel like we have to pretend to be something we are not? Why do we care so much about what someone else will think? Why is it so hard to admit the darkness of our hearts? Why is it so hard to admit that we feel insecure and afraid about so many things? Why do we fight for control, when letting go is what God calls us to?
The questions can be answered by examining what we are choosing to believe about who we are and who God is to us? When we put our identity in the things of this world: possessions, popularity, money, status, position, the number of social media followers we have, the number on the scale, or the lack of free space on our busy calendar, we will feel empty when these things fail us or fail to meet our expectations.
So many times I find myself struggling to work through feelings of being less than or not enough or rejected because so easily I am led astray and misplace what I am building my hope and trust in. So easily I forget the Truth.
When this happens to any of us, how can see the fruit of misplaced identity and trust show up in our lives?
Perfect pictures posted on Instagram and Facebook. The appearance of a perfect home ( and drawing our identity from how things look). Hours spent wasting our time staring at screen (avoiding our reality). Striving to appear like you have it all together ( hiding your real self and struggles). Having all the right answers in your small group bible study (but no clue how to actually live out the truth you speak). Smiling and saying you are okay, when you are not. Saying the right thing, but feeling the opposite. Staying busy and getting things done (operating in self-reliance), yet feeling empty and frustrated.
I have to go back to something I learned from my friend I mentioned at the beginning. The problem originates when what we appear on the outside doesn’t match what we feel on the inside
We aren’t real. And that should set off some alarms in our lives because that is not how God has called us to live. But I believe it’s something we all wrestle with from time to time if we don’t slow down and ask the Holy Spirit to show us who we really are.
How has God called us to live?
Now I may be weird, but this is a question I am always asking God. The world we live in is, in so many ways, so far from the way we were intended to live. It is easy to be living a lie and not even realize it. We need God’s wisdom and discernment to KNOW HOW to live for the time that we have been given. Often I go back to the Red Letters of the Bible about these issues. What did Jesus actually say about things? He kept things simple. However, Simple is not always easy.
It can be hard to know what is actual Truth and what is distorted bits of truth. Again I will say it. We need discernment and wisdom. We need to know what the Bible says, which means we need to be in the Word. Are we practicing religious rituals, man made rules, tradition and such instead of actually doing the things God has commanded us to do. Those are the things that matter eternally. This other stuff doesn’t. Yet we can easily get distracted and off track. YES…. Even in church life.
Doing is NOT always being. Beware of thinking you have to be good enough or do enough to earn your standing in Christ. Then what is GRACE if we have to earn our right standing with God. We can’t. None of us will ever be good enough. But Jesus took care of that through the shedding of His blood on the cross. All we have to do is turn to Jesus, admitting our sin and believe in Him. THAT. IS. ALL.
Yet what is faith without action. How we live and spend our time, money and energy matters eternally. How we treat people and respond to the trials of life matters. I guess this is the sanctification process. How we are refined and made to be more Christlike through our daily living. We learn to apply our knowledge, which is wisdom. We learn to depend on God to do what we can’t.
For the third time I will say it. We need wisdom and discernment to know how to do this. We are commanded to use what God has given us for His glory (not our own). If we really believe that Christ has made us right before God. If we believe that He has given us a future and a hope, setting us free from the chains of being a slave to our sin, then we are going to live counter-culturally.
I want to live like that, but I often don’t. So often I want to do the right thing. The thing called radical obedience and faith, but I fall short and fail to follow through. And then I wonder why I feel so distracted and confused. Why God seems so far?
It’s me. What did He tell me to do that I am not doing? I have to go back and examine where I got off course. At what point did I choose disobedience. Did He show me something to do and I did not respond in faith?
He hasn’t left me. I’m the problem and He is graciously waiting for me to respond and follow Him with reckless abandon.
I have to go back to the command to DO what He says. Not just hearing and knowing the Truth, but actually doing what God says. We all know that is not always easy, but it is freeing and life-giving. Because the more we obey Him, the more power and fruit of His spirit we see in our lives.
Okay, back to the question of how he has called us to live. The question I am always asking Him. A few weeks ago God lead me right to His answer and I will share it with you.
It was in His word, of course. I found it in Romans 12. You should go there and read it yourselves. I do want to show you what God revealed to me about how we are to live….according to His word.
I started out this post meaning to be brief ( is that even possible with me). Actually, asking God to just give me words. His words, because I felt like I had nothing to say. Yet, I want to be obedient to step out of my comfort zone and write as worship.
God was faithful. He gave me words. Lots of words.
The answer is too much to include in this post. So there will be a part 2. I already have it written out in my journal. It will be posted in a few days!
Make sure you read part 2😊
With a heart full of joy- For His Glory alone,
Monica and Chuck