If we’d only humble ourselves to consider that God has a purpose in allowing us a heart-shattered life, that might be the key to becoming more than ourselves. More than the limited, broken ones he’s been lovingly helping lift us out of all along…
How many of us truly realize our only virtue is complete dependence on him? Ironically, in releasing my “right” to a life without suffering, isn’t this how we attain the heroic life we all dream of?
It’s not in self-promotion. Not in comparing ourselves to each other and copying what we see. Not in being smarter or stronger or more desirable. Not in proving our point or proving someone else is wrong.
Take Daniel. A real hero by any measure. Many of us would kill to have his kind of influence. And then what happens to him–the king has to send him to the lion’s den by his own lame decree. And I don’t know why, but for some reason I always assumed God shut the mouths of those beasts right away.
But what if it wasn’t that simple? What if like Moses and Paul and Jesus and John and all the other prophets he had to actually work with God to bring about the miracle and use some untapped animal-whispering ability spontaneously downloaded by the spirit, some divine animal psychology, to stare down those flesh-eating monsters and return their threatening snarls with his own powerful intimidation in the darkness all night long?
And as the morning sun broke in and his adrenaline fatigue began catching up with him, how could he not know it wasn’t only his ability that saved him, but God who held him up? God who kept him alert and closed the lion’s mouths? Of course he knows and so that’s what he chooses to believe and that’s what we read as his words to the king.
It isn’t that miracles don’t happen, but how often do we attribute God’s miraculous infusion of strength and cunning to something outside of organic, earth-and-heaven-fused reality? And how often do we miss the real miracles because we expect fire from heaven and splitting waters and talking donkeys and all kinds of crazy things that don’t require the very thing God says he wants for us most: i.e. faith?
Some have seen real, honest-to-Goodness miracles. My dad stood up to a bear once. Or maybe that was his dad. But I know many who haven’t stood up to their monsters, maybe expecting God to simply shut the lion’s mouths and missing what may be the deeper point God’s waiting for them to see. He’d bring in the cavalry and slay every marauding enemy with holy vengeance if only we’d pick up our swords.
There are too many lost battles to count all of them…
I’ve often wondered why he allows us to face so many flesh-eating monsters.
But lately I’m wondering if the point of them all isn’t this very power incarnate he’s asked us to stand up in and claim in his holy name–the overwhelming power that we don’t even realize is in us for the residual blindness clouding our beliefs, our Bible stories, our immature fantasies.
And oh, how much is our own flesh the real monster?
“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” – Romans 5:10
This flesh is too much for any of us alone to overcome. Despite what it may seem, none of us is remotely capable of kindness or even marginal love without the direct divine infusion of his miraculous, undeserved fire. I will always only want what I want and I can only be saved from my flesh by accepting the life I’ve been given, the new one I’ve been offered.
A life more than my own.
And it’s not my repentance that saves me–repentance is only the sign that I realize what God has done in Christ Jesus. My obedience isn’t what puts me right with God, nor my consecration. I am only put right with God because prior to all, Christ died. By the supernatural miracle of God’s grace, this is how I already stand justified in him, and I only choose to agree with it or not. In him, I am already and always have been a miracle-maker. And it’s not because I’m special or set myself apart, or learned how bad I am and became sorry for my sin. It’s not because I’ve repented or asked for his help. It has nothing to do with my honor or merit or worth. It’s only because of what Jesus has done to set things right for me. The Spirit of God has bought my life and brought with it a breaking, all-over light, and I know, though I don’t know how, that I am fully and completely saved. Praise God! The supernatural has become the natural in me by the miracle of God! And there is the fact and that’s what I realize what Jesus Christ already did, just as he said—
‘It is finished.’”
Some say we have an epidemic of easy believism and it’s hard not to agree. People don’t realize the true cost, and they don’t realize their true birthright that was bought back. But by the fusion of the natural with the supernatural, through the miracle of heaven come to earth I’m remade, I’m made holy and made the miracle-bringer.
I am not the miracle, and the glory of God can’t be seen in me, even when redeemed. But like in Daniel, it can be seen in the radiant light breaking around me. In his mercy on me, a sinner. In his astonishing grace even to the lowest, most prideful wretch of a man.
And this is why we must see our true state–in order to see his. He’s willing to reach down and come into our worst, and that’s the only way we can know what wondrous love is this.
So maybe you’ve heard too many times about Jesus’ disappointment in you and need to remember that he isn’t disappointed, that he sees you as you really are. That night in the Garden of Gethsemane, as he prayed deep and long and his disciples fell asleep? Maybe you feared that could have been you getting scolded: “Could you not keep watch with me for one hour?” Maybe you vowed your spirit would be willing, and your flesh not weak.
Maybe you’ve been trying to bring the miracles yourself.
Do better, be better, be made perfect through his strength and focus your energies on remaining spiritually strong…it’s a nice-sounding thought.
But maybe you’ve sensed that it’s pointless. Maybe it’s time you gave it up for good. Look again at that passage and think of Jesus who already knew the truth about those who followed him. Was he really disappointed? Or did he know that even if we could stay fully awake (which we can’t), we would still need his all-sufficient grace to truly see what we can’t? We need to accept the relief of that. True belief allows us to accept we’re weak and incapable sinners.
Thank you, God that it’s all we need to know. Because you are enough. And that longing for you to miraculously fix us is enough.
Our only virtue is complete dependence.
How many times have we tried to muster it up, to feel more love for Jesus, and “the lost,” and for what he supposedly did for us, and trying so hard to stay awake and to come up front to the altar with him, and “decide for him” and re-re-rededicate our lives yet again?
That voice that told you it was all a lie? It wasn’t lying.
You can’t muster up any of the “feeling.” And it isn’t even necessary anyway. You can’t feel your way to God. He is already with you and always has been.
If you need to run back to him, then do run. I hope I never stop never stop running back to him, never stop asking him to pry my eyes wide, never stop responding to the altar calls. But my faith, my salvation has always depended on him alone.
And where else but in this natural, organic, earth-bound life could I once again find my familiar faith reborn and find it a new place to be with him, and to be his alone?
For his is the only life that’s more than my own.