I used to think I was terribly strong. An unstoppable warrior in God’s ever marching army. I thought my knowledge and wisdom were deep and powerful. I used to never struggle with how I viewed myself positively with God. I knew my identity and it was immovable.
Being in arguably the most difficult season I have ever faced in my life, I find myself struggling with things that in the past were deeply in my safe zones. Spiritual warfare seems to go hand in hand many times with pruning by the Spirit. Especially during difficult times and even more so when those difficult times happen while we fight for others in bondage, to rescue them from the darkness. I used to rarely be afraid, but I get afraid sometimes now. I fear being left alone and isolated from those I love, but also I fear being isolated from the family of God and community and friendship and knowing others and simultaneously being known by others and loved through it all. I feel sometimes like I have failed and am a castaway because of it.
I think the fear can come from many places. Sin definitely separates us. But also how we view our identity separates us. Oh gosh, I have been struggling with part of my heart and mouth lately and it really got the best of me tonight. The feeling of being removed, not good enough, not worthy…it’s horrible. I’m actually writing this from the couch in the living room this quiet evening and ummm…I’m sad. I’m lonely. My heart and my attitude and mouth just got the very best of me. And I keep replaying these words in my head, “I am not good enough. I am not worthy.” I struggle with self identity sometimes. I know if I could see into the invisibleness of my surroundings I would see a great battle and probably demons whispering lies into my ears. But I don’t see that sometimes. I just see air and the living room and myself, tattered and torn and throwing myself at Jesus’ feet for his grace and mercy.
Satan has his pieces on the board and in some ways I feel like the entire game is rigged for him to do incredible damage. He can’t win, Jesus has him beat. But it feels like the path to our final victory is so marred with bad things, terrors in the night, loneliness, weaping, depression and completely losing sight of anything good that God created in us in the first place that the cost of victory is just too bitter to the taste. These are feelings and they’ll pass nonetheless, but still I think they are legitimate.
The cost of becoming like Christ is real. You actually pay it. And it’s not romantic all the time in that you gave up secular music and only watch PG-13 movies and put bumper stickers on your car for social justice. You actually die to yourself. Literally. You actually sacrifice who you are. You burn in God’s fire and in the embers of the Son’s furnace in order for hi to make you like himself so you can enjoy the delights of life eternal with him in our Father’s house. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. That’s why we are called to this, to the Way, to Jesus. It’s our calling. It’s our cross. It must be our passion and burning desire and nothing can stop us.
I don’t write this to be a sad sack of wet doorknobs. I write this because…well…I think we are all here at some point or another.
I was going to write a post on FOMO and longing for heaven this evening. FOMO is the Fear of Missing Out…something else I think we all struggle with. Either momentarily or perpetually. Something I’m feeling now in bits and pieces. My soul is tattered this eve and I wanted to pour out the hot seething embers before you as a testimony to the war and the cost and that it is worth it, YOU are worth it. And I say this as someone who feels like he’s been brought to the depths and still believes this.
You know how God reminded me of this? One of my sons put his arms around me tonight and whispered, “Dad, you’re the best.”
I’m crying right now writing that.
You’re wonderfully and fearfully made and loved and treasured beyond anything. Don’t forget it my friends.