Over the last few months I have been increasingly convicted about how selfish I am. God has really exposed a deep sin inside of me. He has exposed an attitude that need definite adjusting. As He has continued to press on that attitude, He has also helped me begin to pray about it.
I really like have a predictable, safe life. I don’t really want to deal with high maintenance or difficult problems in others. I want to remain in my safe little bubble where things go how I want them to go. I like rhythm, control, and schedule. He has shown me that I want to live in a small, defended, safe kingdom of one (or maybe 6 with my family). Ouch!!
Now, rhythm is good. Discipline is good. Being responsible and getting important things complete is good. What is not good is wanting all of life to be about things going according to my prescribed plan, controlled by what makes me happy, safe in my little bubble where I can hang out with God. Loving Him and spending time with Him is important and wonderful. Is it good, though, to get fuller and fuller of Him and grow in grace while never allowing that to flow out of me onto others? That, my friends, is a recipe for a stagnant, stale, icky soul.
I began to pray, “Lord, help me get out of my comfortable, safe, predictable, defended, resource hoarding, selfish kingdom of me. Help me to expand and seek your great, big, amazing kingdom. Help me to live for something bigger. Help me to receive everything and everyone you send me as a gift with thanksgiving. I don’t know how to change, but you can change my heart. I am willing.”
I opened a book I am reading, a SHELTER in the time of STORM, there was God chasing me around.
“Sacrifices, I don’t want to have to make sacrifices. I want my plate full and my schedule empty. I want to be with people I like, people who are low in maintenance and high in appreciation. I want control over my time, my energy, my money, my things. I want my days to be predictable and my plans unobstructed. I want to experience success and successfully avoid failure. I would rather be served than to be served. I would rather get the gift than to give. I guess this all points me to one stunning reality. There is never a day when my life is idol-free. There is never a week when I don’t give myself to the worship of another. It is sad to say and humbling to admit, that the chief of these deities is none other than me. I am the sovereign I want to serve. I am the king I want others to obey. I am the Lord I want to rule my days. Yes, it is true, Dear Father, I want to be you. My dissatisfaction is not because you are not wise, faithful, loving, good, but because I do not get my own way. So, once more I bow, once more I make confession, once more I plead for mercy, pardon, power and deliverance. Once more I ask, Dear Savior, Please free me from me and cause this selfish heart to find joy, satisfaction, motivation, delight in doing the one thing I was given breath to do: offer myself as a sacrifice in the service of you.” (From a SHELTER in the time of STORM: meditations on God and trouble by Paul David Tripp)
I have to admit, reading those beautifully penned words, my heart was undone. Seeing my thoughts, my attitude in print, pressed in on me. O how ugly. O how selfish. O how sinful.
Then in my devotional, totally unrelated to that book, Romans 15:1-5 was the passage to read.
Romans 15:1-3 The Message
Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”
3-6That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. “I took on the troubles of the troubled,” is the way Scripture puts it.
My heart was really undone when I read that. What a brat I am. What a selfish little god I want to be.
God did not call me out of darkness and set me free so I could live in fairy princess land always getting things my way. He did not call me out of the sewer so I could stay safe in a tower clean and separate from the muck of suffering. Life is not about clean, predictable, safe isolation.
The truth is I love the idea of sacrifice. I love the idea of Mother Theresa. I love the idea of doing what my amazing friends, The Benkerts are doing in Africa. I love all of that in theory, but when the rubber meets the road, do I love it in practice?” Who am I to think I could uproot my family and move somewhere like Ethiopia giving up my comforts and control when I don’t want to venture into my neighborhood and spend time with friends I know that are messy and dealing with life that is not as pretty as my “safe, predictable, spoiled” life? Who am I kidding? Sacrifice is great in theory, but I don’t really want to make a practice of it.
So today I got a call from a long time friend who is hurting. He needs for me and my husband to come along side him and his wife and their messy painful struggles and walk. He needs for someone who has walked through the valley and sunk in the muck only to be rescued by a loving and gracious Savior to walk with them, love them, help carry them for a bit, and show them the way out of the darkness.
And I said, yes, Lord, I will go. Yes, I will take on this mess. If you will go with me and give me the grace I need. I will go.
It will not be easy. It will not be clean and simple. I may not know the answers or feel like I am capable of doing anything to help because I am not. But He will be with us and He will give us what we need when we need it. We will see grace and beauty in a new and deeper way because we say yes.