I found myself in that spot again. That situation in life where I suddenly realize my arrogance has been festering, and God himself is opposing me in my pride. A reading of James 3-5 convicted me of it.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
(James 4:1-4 ESV)
He opposes me, but does not destroy me, because he is patient and merciful. His opposition is meant to turn me from sin and wickedness, and to him, who not only forgives, but is powerful to save me from my chronic sinfulness.
Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
(James 4:5-6 ESV)
Praise God! He is faithful even when I am not faithful to him. He is patient and does not pass judgment on me, and in his wisdom saves me from rightful consequences. And he is relentless, because he does not give up.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. … Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
(James 4:7-10 ESV)
So I am humbling myself. Again. How many times have I been here before? How many more times will I forget that the Lord is good to me? But God does not give up on me, and so I refuse to stay down and not try again. If I have any hope, it’s in him, and he promises to exalt me when I humble myself before the Lord. Yes, in my circumstances this is clearly my only hope: to humble myself.
I still remember that night when I prayed to God to never let me be drawn away from him, but to do everything in his power to bring me back to him. I gave my life to him, saying that nothing is as important as he is, and that he could remove or destroy, as he sees fit, any thing, person, or ambition that separates me from himself, or that causes me to be disobedient or displeasing to him. And so he has. It is often unpleasant, but I am always grateful after the fact. And in this particular circumstance, too, I am grateful, even though I still feel his opposition against me.
As I have often said, life is like a trip to the playground. The great cruelties and abuses inflicted on toddlers as they have their toys taken away, or are pushed into the sand pit, or are finally picked up and taken home by their parents against their will… these are apt metaphors for this life. I would never trade my relationship with my parents for another hour spent playing in my childhood; I would not trade closeness to the Lord for mere worldly comfort. The metaphor breaks down because what happens on earth does have eternal significance, but it is accurate in that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is being prepared for us for eternity.
I hope this does not seem so extreme to my non-believing readers. I can endure to lose everything for God’s sake because the perspective of a disciple of Jesus is much bigger than the limited scope of our natural lifetimes.
This is probably the most personal post I have ever published. If this isn’t your cup of tea, I’m sorry to say that there is more where it came from; please consider unsubscribing/unfollowing this blog.