Earlier today, I read an interesting facebook post that immediately caught my attention. It was written by an old friend, going through a difficult season in life. Here’s the message:
“I’m a good person… I care, I love, I help, I pray, and am there when anyone is in need… And all I want is to be loved and be HAPPY!!!!!!!!!!! Why can’t that happen for me???!!!!! It’s so FRUSTRATING!!!!!!”
My heart goes out to this friend, because she’s trying her best to do what she feels is right, in her life. Therein lies the problem. She’s trying her best to do what she feels is right. But…what if our motives and ambitions do not align with God’s plan for our lives?
By nature, courtesy of Adam and Eve, we are all sinful. I simply can’t sugar-coat it for you. No matter how “good” our deeds; no matter how “pure” our thoughts; no matter how many times a day we pray, we are still sinful in nature. One of the worse attributes Satan contributed to society, was the self-righteous ego. Make no mistake about it: every one of us has one! That ego makes us proud of our accomplishments. It makes us confident in our own abilities. It makes us arrogant, in the face of lesser experienced individuals. And eventually, it makes us bitter when things fail to go according to our own plans. Any way you look at it, its simply our sinful nature playing out its purpose.
God doesn’t make mistakes. His plans are perfect, for divine creation. Everything, including the hardships we face, work toward our greater good, according to God’s plan for our lives. Sometimes, we get in the way of His plans thereby creating turmoil for ourselves. Family, when we begin to question the lack of blessings bestowed upon our lives, watch out! You may actually be reaping what you’ve already sown. Every Christian recognizes hardships for what they really are: baptism by Holy fire.
A respected pastor once said, “If you’re not encountering opposition in your life, its because you’re fighting on the wrong team and, therefore, are not considered a threat to the enemy. You’re on his side!”
That’s how Satan gets us out of alignment, family. He uses the sin of our egotistical nature to get us to focus on the wrong things. He flips the truth upside-down. He fools us into turning left, when we should be going right. He does it all with the end game focus of claiming our lives. Its John 10:10 played out in real life:
“The thief comes only to steal, to kill, and to destroy.” (NIV)
He’s a thief, alright. His goal is to steal your peace emotionally, physically, and finally spiritually.
So…my friend views herself as a good person; a caring, helpful, loving and prayerful woman. That’s the reflection she sees in the mirrors of her own eyes. In her mind, her life-hardships are unfair. She’s frustrated with her lack of joy. She’s essentially looking for a return on her investment. Let me tell you how I see myself.
I’m a wicked man. I’m down right nasty at heart. If you turn your back on me, I’m going to look you up and down three times over, and then judge you based on your outfit. I’m a liar, and a thief. If I give anger free reign, you better believe me when I say I’m capable of killing. I’m lazy and selfish. I hate labor, and would rather be paid simply because I feel like having money in my pockets. Honest work is for suckers.
Family, this is who I am, devoid of God’s grace and mercy. This is who I really am, when I stray from God’s direction. The punchline to the joke is this: In my own mind, I’m the kindest, most loving and forgiving, helpful, honest, and pure-hearted soul on THE PLANET! There is Satan at work. When I ignore God’s direction and follow my own, I behave exactly the way Satan pegs me to behave. I’m the devil’s puppet. But my mind won’t allow me to acknoledge my own sin! Because I’m a sinful man by nature, I deserve every hardship that comes my way. They are my burdens to bare. And as long as I continue to ignore my own sinful nature, I will always…always revisit the same hardships!
That’s how the enemy eventually kills the unbeliever, without him/ her even recognizing death falling over them. Someone whom I love, with all my heart, battled with suicidal tendencies for years. It wasn’t until she accepted the truth of the gospel, that she recognized Satan’s plan to literally kill her. To her, suicide was a viable option for escaping the lack of joy ever present in her life. No matter where she looked, she only found more pain and guilt over decisions made, and blessings denied. Once she accepted Christ wholeheartedly, she realized how deeply Satan had been graphed into her spirit.
The Old Testament tells us how the original Israelites were miraculously freed from the bondage of Egypt, only to walk the desert for forty years! Did you hear me? Forty years! They circled that desert, making the same mistakes over and over again, because of their sinful nature. They failed to recognize God’s presence with them. They couldn’t see that He was keeping them fed and clothed; keeping them safe from attack. All they saw was what their hearts told them they were missing.
It happens today, with us. We miss the blessings we feel are deserved, never recognizing God’s presence in our lives during the storms. We fail to recognize and accept our own sinful natures, when we are apart from the Lord. We mock Jesus. We call Him wack; prudish; boring; square; oldschool. But when the pressure is on, when the fire of baptism is turned up high, we want to run to Him and expect Him to liberate us. And we’re ungrateful when the liberation doesn’t happen in our timeframe.
Sister…brother…on our own, we’re not good people. We don’t love the way God instructs us to. We aren’t truly kind to one another. We don’t care as much as we should. We don’t pray nearly enough to truly honor the God of our parents and grandparents. Without God, we are all wretched. I’ve got readers right now, who are offended by that one statement because its just too close to truth.
Tonight, evaluate your life. Look beyound your wants and desires. See past the blessings you think you’re missing. Really look at yourself. Take stock of what’s truly inside your heart. If God is reigning in your life, then you are completely worry free. But if He’s not the center of your life, not even in the same box as some of your deeper desires, then you need to shift your sight onto yourself. I am not a worry-free person. My heart is not totally devoted to the Lord. Its something I’m honestly working on improving. Can you give what you’re missing? Can you love the unlovable? Can you forgive the unforgivable? That’s what Jesus calls us all, believers and unbelievers alike, to do.
E, you are a good person. You do care, love and help others. And I have it on good authority that you do pray. But recognize that our scales of measure don’t coincide with God’s. Your time for blessings will come. I know it will. In the meantime, look to God during your season of struggle. Lean on Him, E. This time…right here and now…is your time to be tested. But you have to accept your own humanity and realize your deep need for the Lord’s direction. That starts with a bit of humility. I know you can do it. Your family and friends love you and pray for you. Don’t quit. Your blessings are coming. And if you follow the Lord wholeheartedly, the blessings will be more than you could ever imagine.