Wednesday, August 6, 2008

It's STILL a Faith Problem

Why do I so often fall for Satan's lies, when they're so blatantly obvious,
and they've proven themselves treacherous over and over again?

Yesterday I mentioned some areas of weakness, and I'll review them here.
  • I have faith that I can do myself more good by withdrawing than by loving, even though God tells me the opposite (and I know from experience and common sense that He's right!)
  • I have faith that I am better off focusing on everything the Lord tells me not to focus on (though once again, I really know He's right)
  • I have the kind of perverse faith that says my own assessment of my life situation is accurate (i.e. it's hopeless), even though God tells me to hope in Him (Ditto. He's right, and I know it).
Why is it that I can see the error of my ways when I write it down like that, but it's so hard to see it in real life? I think it's because of a deeper faith problem, a false belief that gives power to many other errors. The flesh wrongly believes, "I'm better off with pain and pleasure of my own making, under my own control, and in my own timing, than I am with pain and pleasure of God's making, under His control, and in His timing."

Life hurts. God calls on me to love, and I know in my heart that He's right to do so. But I don't know how long life's pain will continue while I take the risk of loving. I do know that I can stop the pain temporarily if I withdraw into self-indulgent escapism, even if it makes things worse in the long run. Why do I choose that? Because it feels like power. I choose to bring my relief in my way in my time. The fact that He's right doesn't matter, and the consequences are of little importance to me, if what I care about most is a sense of self-determination.

Trust, on the other hand, feels like helplessness. I forego the relief that I could have chosen for myself. I continue on in the pain of reality, with no idea when I will feel any kind of relief, or whether I can stand to wait that long for it. Why would I choose that? There's only one reason why I would. It's called faith. It's the belief that God's pleasures are worth waiting for, that God's plans are better than mine, that God's wisdom is higher than mine, and that His love will sustain me through it all. It is trust in Him, first and foremost, as evidenced by trust in His sovereign control, and His timing for my pain and pleasure.

Only the Spirit of God working a miracle of change in our hearts can make us see that self-determination is suicide. Only He can open our eyes to the fact that what feels like the power of choosing our own way is in reality helpless enslavement to sin and destruction. Only He can show us the truth; that God's way and His timing are perfect, and that if we could only see as He sees, we would choose with Him every time.

Oh Lord, grant me more of such faith!

I read recently that more and more funerals are featuring secular songs rather than religious ones, and two of the most popular choices listed were: "I Did it My Way," and "Highway to Hell." I hate to say it, but those two songs are one and the same. Different words, different styles, different tunes, same outcome.

Invictus? There is no such thing. Those who are not conquered by the love of God, who are not won by His goodness, will instead be conquered by His justice and deserved wrath. There are no victors in Hell. Not even Satan, for he will be bound there in eternal suffering just like the rest. And yet, even knowing that, I can hear quotes from that famous poem (Invictus) and feel admiration for the pride in it. Oh foolish humanity! Oh my foolish heart!

"The humble He guides in justice, and the humble He teaches His way. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth to such as keep His covenant and His testimonies." (Ps. 25:9-10)

"The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant." (Ps. 25:14)

"Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments." (Ps. 112:1)

"God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (Jas. 4:6)

"For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble." (Mal. 4:1)

"The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above." (Pr. 14:14)

Which do I believe is better, to be filled with my own ways, or to be satisfied from above? I regret to say that for most of my life, I've preferred the former. My knee-jerk reaction is still the former. But I've tasted just enough of the latter to make me want more.

I am staking my soul on the faithfulness of my Savior to whet my appetite for Heavenly satisfaction, to wean me off of the lesser delights of sin and worldly pleasures. He longs to do so. Can you hear Him pleading?

"Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance." (Isa. 55:2)

"Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart." (Ps. 37:4)

"Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." (John 4:14)

"Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely." (Rev. 22:17)

"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" (Php 4:4)

Lord, increase our faith!

(Photo taken by Betsy Markman in Breckenridge, Colorado)

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