Posts Tagged ‘humility’

Jeremiah Was A Dragon Man: We Are God’s Underpants

November 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Thus says the Lord to me, “Go and buy a linen loincloth and put it around your waist, and do not dip it in water.” So I bought a loincloth according to the word of the Lord, and put it around my waist. And the word of the Lord came to me a second time, “Take the loincloth that you have bought, which is around your waist, and arise, go to the Euphrates and hide it there in a cleft of the rock.” So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the Lord commanded me. And after many days the Lord said to me, “Arise, go to the Euphrates, and take from there the loincloth that I commanded you to hide there.” Then I went to the Euphrates, and dug, and I took the loincloth from the place where I had hidden it. And behold, the loincloth was spoiled; it was good for nothing.

Then the word of the Lord came to me, “Thus says the Lord; Even so will I speak the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own heart and have gone after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be like this loincloth, which is good for nothing. For as the loincloth clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, declares the Lord, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory, but they would not listen.

Jeremiah 13:1-11

Sin brings shame. Israel’s sin is shameful. God’s judgment and exile of Israel and Judah to a foreign land is not God bringing shame upon Israel as a weak and conquered people, but God revealing and putting on display the shame of sin the people of God have already brought upon themselves. Jeremiah again makes this clear in chapter 13.

And if you say in your heart, “Why have these things come upon me?” it is for the greatness of your iniquity that your skirts are lifted up and you suffer violence (22).

I myself will lift up your skirts over your face, and your shame will be seen (26).

The image of a skirt being lifted up conveys exposure of shame.* God will not let Israel continue to conceal the shameful way they have been treating YHWH and others.

But Israel is not the only one who will be naked and ashamed. As we read above, Israel has exposed YHWH’s nakedness, and He has been shamed in the same way as His people. YHWH has clothed Himself with His people, covering up his most vulnerable parts with them. He chose Israel for His glory, that by His blessing of them, freeing them from slavery, and setting them up as a sovereign nation in a fertile land, He would be glorified by their worship of the God who gave them the freedom and provision they could not obtain on their own. If by this blessing and worship YHWH was glorified by His people, then by the coming judgment and Israel’s disdain of YHWH He is brought to shame by His people.

Over and over again God shows His humility by His willingness to put faith in us, to give us power and responsibility over Creation, and to create humanity with the capacity to bring YHWH shame and dishonor. He didn’t have to create us with the capacity to shame Him, but because He loves us, He enters into relationship with us, and in so doing, leaves Himself vulnerable to our rejection of Him. Israel was a people specially set apart to be blessed by YHWH and glorify YHWH. When the special receivers of God’s blessing respond to that blessing with rejection, God is stripped naked, in His humility experiencing the shame of their rejection.

We, as God’s people, special receivers of His blessing, specially picked out through Jesus’ blood to represent God on earth, are also given the responsibility to bring God glory and with it the power to bring God shame. We are God’s underwear. He gave his life to be in relationship with us, we expose his nakedness when we reject relationship with Him. He made us in His image that we might show the world what God looks like, when we live in a way that disfigures His image in us and dishonors it in others, we shame Him by stripping Him of the clothing which accents His beauty. Will we show God’s honor, love, and beauty to the world or embarrass Him with rejection and gross misrepresentations?

* The images here are very similar to those of the first sin of man. Immediately after Adam and Eve sinned against God, their primary concern was to cover their nakedness and in so doing, hide their shame. God pressed into Adam and Eve, and though He clothed them, He wouldn’t let them pretend to hide from Him. God is revealing Israel not that they would be forever naked and ashamed, but that they would no longer be able to try to hide behind their skirts of Temple ritual and sacrifice.


If I Had To Write A Book On Leadership It Would Go Something Like This

February 17, 2011 3 comments

I’m not a super experienced church leader. But for a while, I was well on my way to becoming one. I was in high school and I led my small group, led middle schoolers, mentored those younger in the faith, was on leadership teams, read leadership books, and went to leadership conferences frequently, As a freshman in college, I did the same thing on a different level. I started a college church group with a friend, led a bible study there, led leaders there, kicked leaders out of there, led some more, kept reading leadership books, then left that whole deal. I’ve played the church leadership game. It was fun.

I got all the comments that people want to hear too. “You’re a very strong leader.” “I have a lot of respect for you.” “You have so much leadership potential.” “A lot of people look up to you.” “I’ve never seen a leader like you.” Blah blah blah. They were nice to hear. They were encouraging. But the more I read Scripture, the less I really saw about leadership. At least not of the same sort I heard describe described by others around me, church heads, and the many books I read on the topic.

It felt like people all thought that the same skill set for leading in the business world was the skill set needed for leading in the church. I had the skill set for leading in business environments, but that only works in the church if it functions primarily like a systematic organization. The business style of leadership worked for me. Uh oh. I became disenchanted with the whole deal, with the whole idea of leadership that I felt I had been taught.

The longer I live in this brief life, the less and less important the idea of leadership seems to me. As far as the world of Jesus-followers is concerned, I don’t really think that we need more great leaders. I don’t think that’s the kind of revival we’re looking for. I don’t think we need more people who really want to have authority over others in order to help them, teach them, or guide them. The global church doesn’t need more initiators or people that really take charge. The gatherings of believers in the world do not need to spend more time focusing on potential future leaders to build the kingdom of God on earth.

Moses is a classic leadership example that I am going to use. A lot of leadership books have used the example of Moses. Then they go into a discussion of these different leadership characteristics he had and the way that he led and they say things about the story that just don’t seem quite true, but fit into their book. I’d like to just stop at Moses.

Moses was a terrible candidate to be a leader. If he had sent me a resume to be the CEO of my company, I wouldn’t even have given him enough credit to send him a letter telling him he didn’t get the job. He wasn’t exactly good with people. To get revenge for a violent, but still normal and daily, action by an Egyptian, he killed him secretly. That was his strategy for helping. As a result, he made the Egyptians want to kill him and his people mock him and criticize him. I guess you could call him an initiator, but you could also call him a fool who wasn’t in control of his own actions. Then he goes off into the desert to hide. Bold and courageous Moses. He helped some hot women get some water (which is awesome), then defaulted to marrying one of them. Being the ambitious self starter that he is, after a long period of time we find that Moses’ career path is… to tend sheep for his father in law. He took life by the horns and wrestled it so he could live the dream – working for his in laws. Then God calls him in a miraculous and powerful way. And our self-confident leader Moses says he’ll go, sort of. As long as God lets Aaron do the speaking for him.

Do you see what I mean? For those involved in church leadership, is this the dude you would choose to lead hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children into the promised land? Does he have what you look for in young leadership to develop to be the future of the worldwide assemblies of believers in Jesus? Is Moses the guy of Maxwell, Stanley, Blanchard, or Hybels? Does he have the right qualities to be a leader in today’s church?

I love Moses. Moses is freaking amazing. He is, in so many ways, such a great model for our lives. But he is not a good model because of his many leadership qualities. I think he is a great model because of one leadership quality. Numbers 12: 3 “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone on the face of the earth.” We see this in his first direct interaction with God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt.” He’s no one. And he knows it. In his humility, he knows it. Through his honest humility, he develops a relationship with God where despite Moses’ weaknesses, lack of confidence, and incapacity, YHWH works through him to do amazing things. Moses was not a typical leader but that didn’t matter to God. Moses’ lack made no difference in his effectiveness. Because God’s Spirit gifted Moses with the ability to lead, Moses’ effectiveness at leadership could only limited by his pride, and he had less of it than anyone on earth.

I do not believe in developing leaders. I believe in developing people (which includes leaders). I believe in speaking the word of God to people to be humble, and in humility live in right relationship with God, and through humility receive God’s power. And if in one’s love for God and others, gifted by the Spirit of God, they find themselves called to be a leader let them lead and do so diligently. But if their gift is serving, then let them do so cheerfully. If it is prophecy, let them do so boldly. Let them all exercise their gifts out of humble love.

If a leader is leading because of their leadership qualities and desire to lead and not out of the empowering of the Holy Spirit brought about by the person’s humble relationship of love with Jesus, that’s a serious issue for our churches. God then is working through these persons misactions and misguided heart rather than through their humble obedience. And in their desire to lead and in successful leading, the leader so often becomes deluded, believing that leadership is their honoring of God, is tantamount to obedience, and is their necessary path to being like Jesus. For many, leading in the church often comes at the expense of intimacy and humility. And others who are close to God are ignored by those positioned in some sort of spot of authority in the church because they lack leadership characteristics. There is a tendency to prop up quality business leaders in our church gatherings at the expense of the humble men and women that God would rather position there. Be wary.

Also, to quote my favorite author outside of the Bible, “at least 20 percent of what I am telling you is wrong, but I don’t know which 20% it is: I make many mistakes in life, in relationships and in work, and I don’t expect to be free of them in my thinking.”

Another Way To Destroy Your Relationship With God

December 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Please read the addendum to the previous post.

As I was writing my last post on whoredom, I was thinking about a way that we keep ourselves from God by acting in a way that often feels like it’s right and just and what God would want. A friend who commented on my whore post cleanly summed it up, “I feel dirty.” It is true that we have earned death with our sin and that our sin has made us dirty and contemptible. This is not a bad place to be, but it is a horrible place to stay. Merry Christmas! The Messiah is here!

Jesus has come. This changes our very reality. Jesus has come to save us from our sins. Jesus has come to take away the sin of the world. Jesus has come to reunite us with our God by becoming sin on our behalf in so doing justifying us and through forgiveness, freeing us from the consequence of separation caused by our lustful betrayal. Jesus has come to purify us from all unrighteousness. Jesus has come to redeem our lost innocence, purity, and intimacy, bringing us back to the days when we walked hand in hand with God and returned His love in a world marked by the unadulturated goodness of God’s Kingdom.* Its freaking good news.

So, although you don’t deserve it you whore, forgiveness, purity, redemption, love, intimacy, innocence, unity, oneness, freedom, trust, and a new life have been offered to you. All of these things are at our fingertips. God, through Jesus, has offered them to us. God has found us in our infidelity and wrapped us in his loving arms, asking us only to also wrap our arms around him. It seems like a no-brainer to accept these. Or, at least, decide that we don’t want to be faithful to God because He’s not our type, and live as unfaithfully as we can because we don’t think the relationship is worth it. Accepting or a flat out oppositional rejection both make sense. But people often do a third thing.

People often, after realizing the depth of their sin and its destructiveness and their disgusting lifestyles and how horrifying their infidelity is, respond with shame and sit in shame and live in shame. They go around feeling dirty all the time. Dirtiness is their reality. They talk to God about how dirty they are and ashamed they are and sinful they are. They talk to others about their sin and about how bad they feel about it. They understand the horror of their sin, which is awesome, but they stop there. They try to comply with the rules that they believe God wants them to follow as they feel ashamed of themselves.

You know what happens? Usually, they just sin more. People that feel ashamed and dirty rarely truly feel like it has much significance to do something shameful and dirty. If your hands are covered in poop, you’re not going to be very concerned about touching a pile of dirt. Then, they feel more ashamed and they go back to trying to make up for their terrible actions by complying with rules they think God has. They become unintentional Law abiders, defined completely by whether or not they obey the live according to God’s regulations.

You know what doesn’t happen? Intimacy with God. It’s really difficult to be intimate with someone when you’re trying to redeem yourself by following rules that can’t bring about redemption. It’s really difficult to be intimate with someone when you’re trying to earn their love when what you have earned their hate. It’s really difficult to be intimate with someone when you’re trying to deserve their forgiveness for something you can never deserve forgiveness for. You can’t be intimate with someone you are ashamed to embrace.

They also get a host of terrible advice. Here’s a small paraphrased sampling: “You’re a really good person and are awesome to be around, you don’t have to be ashamed.” “You have to learn to love yourself.” “Everyone struggles with that, you’re fine.” “If you just were more obedient to God’s rules, you wouldn’t feel so bad about yourself.” “You need to learn to forgive yourself.” You can keep saying these things, but they don’t help. I’m all for encouragement, but those who will not accept what God has offered them need to know the following.

They are sitting in their shame because of their arrogance. Here’s an enlightening what if scenario about a familiar story. In John 8 Jesus keeps a woman from being stoned who was caught committing adultery and says that he doesn’t condemn her, telling her to go and live more faithfully. What if she would have walked away and started throwing rocks in the air and running underneath them as they fell so she was hit by her own stones? Her self-condemnation would not be admirable or pious, it would be foolish and arrogant. If Jesus does not condemn her, who is she to condemn herself? How incredibly proud would she have to be to stone herself when she thought she deserved it! She would be trying to get what she deserved instead of accepting the freedom through forgiveness that Jesus offered.

This is what people do when they live ashamed of their sin. They have made the decision that they will not accept the free gift that God offers and instead will try to deserve it or will live forever knowing they are unworthy, thinking that knowledge of unworthiness and not accepting undeserved forgiveness is somehow admirable or pious. The reason there is no intimacy in living ashamed of one’s own sin is because to live in shame is to reject God’s forgiveness, redemption, new life, and reconciliation into intimacy. While there are always a million other issues that play into it, at the core, it is always only hubris that keeps one, who knows they need God’s grace, from accepting His undeserved gift.

Humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up. If you are not lifted, you are mistaking shame and condemnation for humility. Life that is truly life is at your fingertips if you would simply let go of your arrogance and accept what God offers. You don’t have to live in shame any longer. You don’t have to distance yourself from God. You don’t have to engage in self destructive behavior anymore. You don’t have to punish yourself, condemn yourself, ridicule yourself, or hate yourself. You don’t have to feel dirty anymore.

“You are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Merry F-ing Christmas!


*All of these concepts deserve books. But, as you know, sloth and apathy are the other lovers I am prone to embrace. I embrace them now by not writing multiple books.

You’re Not Hosea In This Story

December 18, 2010 5 comments

One of the most powerful images of God’s love in Scripture is found in the story of the prophet Hosea. For me, it is one of the most emotionally poignant concepts in Scripture. It strikes my soul. It has transformed and continues to form the way I conceptualize reality. Perhaps telling you why will tenderize you the way it softens my stony heart.

Hosea was stupidly faithful (stupid in a good way). YHWH told Hosea that he was to marry a woman that God knew would be unfaithful to him. God knew that this woman sold her body and would continue to do so even while she was married. Hosea married her. She cheated on him repeatedly and consistently. She even had kids that Hosea named as his own, but would really have no idea whether those kids were his or some dudes that she had an affair with. People Hosea knew talked to him about the sexual relationship they had with his wife. Hosea was betrayed over and over and over by his unfaithful wife and yet He took her back and loved her again and again and again. Why did God want Hosea to do this? He wanted to demonstrate how Hosea’s relationship with his wife was a microcosm of God’s relationship with His people.

I get this, it connects with me. This story hurts me. I feel Hosea’s pain. I think that all people, even if they haven’t directly felt the pain of having a significant other cheat on them, have some understanding of how it feels to be betrayed by someone close to them. I think all of us have some experience of what it is like to feel someone relationally significant to you treat your trust and the relationship flippantly. Betrayal is the second worst feeling in the world.

The worst is feeling the pain that comes from realizing that you have betrayed someone you love and treated the relationship flippantly. You know who wants to feel that? No one. I’ve avoided it myself and watched so many others do the same. Listen to how most people talk about their sin. People talk about it like it’s bad, but not a huge deal because God has forgiven them for it. Or they talk about how it’s human to sin and everyone sins and that’s why we need God’s grace. Maybe they mostly talk about the sin of others and do this sick comparison thing where they perceive others are worse than them so that they can feel better about themselves. People tend to treat sin as inconsequential because it just plain sucks to acknowledge you are the betrayer.

But sin is not inconsequential. It is as destructive to our relationship with God as an act of infidelity is to a marriage. Our sin is absolutely disgusting and it destroys intimacy with God. Our choices of sin are acts of betrayal and infidelity and they hurt God in the way that a husband who catches his wife cheating on him with another man is hurt. We are violating God’s trust, abusing his forgiveness, and showing with our actions how meaningless our relationship with God is to us. Our sin is disgusting and destructive.

It is only when we realize how terrifically horrifying our sins are that we understand and appreciate God’s mercy. It is only then that we can be intimate. If a husband offers forgiveness but an unfaithful wife thinks that what she did was an insignificant act that isn’t really a big deal, how close to you think that couple will be? The wife has to admit that what she has done is terribly destructive, have an appreciation for the forgiveness of her husband, and rebuild trust with her husband through a life of faithfulness or else there is no hope for the relationship. There will be little intimacy for those who make excuses for their destructive behavior. There is no way that you will ever see God’s love for what it is if you do not first see you for what you are.

You are the whore. God has taken you as his bride. You have whored yourself to people that matter little. God has reaffirmed his love for you. You display your shameful infidelity with pride. God shouts his love for you from the rooftops. You have broken all your promises. In His faithfulness, God’s wants to renew his vows. Your heinous acts have destroyed your most important relationship. God wants to restore Himself to you. Your prostitution has left your life in ruins. God wants to rebuild it with you. You have run from him into the arms of many other men. God waits for your return with open arms. You are a dirty, betraying whore. God loves you and wants to make you pure and reconcile with you.

Addendum: It has been brought to my attention that all of the yous and generalized way of speaking about the text disconnects me from the story and it feels like I’m talking from a place of authority to a reader. I just wanted to say that most of this is me trying to make the story hit you in a way similar to how it has hit me. Let me be clear about this: I’m the whore too. We have all been the whore. That’s what’s so amazing about God’s love and infinite mercy. Let’s live to reflect and honor both.

Some Different Thoughts On Love: The Ancillary Concept of Loving Oneself

January 29, 2010 4 comments

“‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these”. – Mark 12:30-31

Many people disagree with what I’m about to say. I’m pretty used to it. :). I do think what I’m about to talk about is true, but I would love some discussion on this topic because I know amongst readers of this blog there is a diversity of opinion. And some of you readers are both discerning and great writers, so make my life a little more interesting and post a comment.

In the last 5 years, I’ve heard this statement and variations of it 100 times, “You have to learn to love yourself before you can love others.” The statement is based on Jesus’ claim that loving your neighbor as yourself is the second greatest commandment. I don’t have a problem with an individual loving who they are, not by any means. However, I don’t think it should ever be a focus for someone to learn to love themselves in order to learn to love others. Here’s the deal, the thing that gets in the way of people loving others is not them not spending enough time caring about themselves, but by spending too much time and thought on their own well being.

There are some contendable things I believe about self-love that are the result of personal experience. I believe people naturally love themselves with their actions. I think this love is perverted and unhealthy, but I would define it as twisted form of love, and so, still love. It seems to me that the people with the worst self perspectives are frequently some of the most self focused. They don’t have a very high view of themselves, but self-love and self-perception are not the same thing. I don’t have a very high view of the rapist, but I care deeply for him. The cutter doesn’t think they’re worth much, but they cut because it does something or they hope it will do something for their emotional well being, whether that be getting attention or numbing their pain. One who commits suicide does so because they hate their life so much that they want it to end. They are fulfilling their desire of not having a life and so caring for themselves. Those that run around trying to please everyone are only focused on pleasing everyone because they are desperate for everyone to like them or to be happy. They run around to please everyone because they are looking out for their own emotional well being. It’s self-love even though on some level it looks like its about caring for others. I could give a number of other examples. I hope my contention is made, however, that a lack of love for ourselves is not really the problem. Self love is what we do.

Another problem with the idea that we need to learn to love ourselves before we can love others is that it doesn’t say it anywhere in Scripture. If this was such a vital concept to understand before we could live out the second greatest commandment, don’t you think that God would have mentioned it? But He never really says that. He says other things, such as “in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil 2:3-4). He implies that it is inherent in each of us to look to our own interests, but looking to the interests of others (“having the same love” phil 2:2) requires some effort on our own part. It’s doesn’t come instinctively. I do believe there is something necessary we need to do before we can love others to the fullest. And I believe Jesus tells us precisely what that is.

The first commandment is greater than the second and perfects the second. Loving God is necessary to both love others in a pure way and to love oneself in a healthy way. If we don’t love God, I don’t think we can appreciate just how valuable every person is. If we can’t understand their value, we can’t care about them in ways that honor and bring out their value. The reason people are worth loving at all, the reason it is so important to care about others is that they are made in the image of God. If we don’t love God, we certainly aren’t going to be able to appreciate His image in others. And if we don’t love Him first, far above ourselves and far above others, then all of our acts of love, toward ourselves and others are going to be always perverted and frequently destructive. Only when He is first can we love others well. I think that loving ourselves is ancillary because if we love God, we’re going to appreciate ourselves.

I do think our self-perspective is important, but if we’re focusing on that, we’re being self-centered and self-loving. People don’t have a hard time with a negative self perspective because they need to learn to see themselves in a more positive light, they have a hard time loving themselves because they need to learn to see themselves less. When, instead of focusing on us, we focus on loving God, His reality becomes our reality. We stop being so arrogantly self centered with our self-demeaning attitude, and we put God before us, loving Him over all and in so doing, we recognize His image in ourselves.

Interplay of Wisdom and Humility

January 11, 2010 Leave a comment

I may have written about this before. I’m not really sure. I know there was a period in which I talked about it a lot. Anyway, I’m thinking about it now. Two verses in totally different parts of Scripture incited my ruminating about this concept and what it looks like in life. Proverbs 11:2 makes the simple statement, “with wisdom comes humility.” And much later in the history of the Scriptures, the ever blunt James talks about “the humility that comes from wisdom.”

I’m intrigued by how when one of these two character traits are present, the other characteristic is inevitably on its way. One cannot be both wise and arrogant. Intelligent and arrogant, sure. Clever and cocky? Absolutely. Insightful and proud, very possible. But wisdom is something different. Wisdom walks hand in hand with humility, and if you get a hold of one, you will find yourself holding the other. I want wisdom. My lack of it lately has been so destructive to my life. It’s been so limiting and I have been constantly held back and have often held others back by my own foolishness.

Years ago, just beginning my Jesus following, I knew I needed to be humble. Not knowing how to do that after being cocky, arrogant, and proud of it my whole life, I decided instead of pursuing humility, I would pursue wisdom and trust that the words of Scripture were true. It worked. The more wise I became, the more clearly my position in the world became. Differences between myself and others became increasingly blurry as I saw more clearly the beauty and glory of the one who created us all. I became humble as I saw the things that truly mattered in life and the things that didn’t. As I discovered the meaning of actions, words, touch, beauty, joy, and the necessities of love, I found humility a necessity to actually be wise – to actually live out a life that is truly life.

I love what the verse in James 3:12 says, Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. Beautiful idea. Truly living involves a life with an overflowing cup of good deeds. I want this verse to be true for me. But, I am in a different spot now. I don’t have wisdom. I don’t see anything with clarity. I don’t feel like I have the capacity to pursue wisdom. What I have right now, is a whole lot of humility. My lack of wisdom has led to developing pride which led to increasing foolishness and then a shattered pride. Here I am, with nothing but nothing. I’m humbled greatly now. Not that I have “great humility,” that’s a misnomer. But rather I have nothing left to fuel my pride, and so I’m left with humility. That leaves me with humility and hope. Hope for something better. Great. Unimaginably great. But first, I need wisdom. Now I’m approaching it from a different route, but may God make the results even greater. May He give generously to all without finding fault, and may God see it fit to grant me wisdom to go along with my humility. And then, a life that evidences both without saying a word.

BTW, I’m in need of a full body deep tissue massage and I lost my massage therapist, any takers?

Life As It Is

December 1, 2008 2 comments

This is what we have to deal with.  When things are rough, the temptation is to look toward life as it could be or life as we want it to be.  The desire is to divert attention from or ignore life as it is.  But that doesn’t get us anywhere.  We cannot ignore how things are; we cannot live in our dream of the future.   We can only live in the now with what we have, regardless of how painful the now is or how little what we have is.

This can be scary.  The circumstances of life as it is can be overwhelming.  There might be difficulties that seem impossible to overcome that have significant negative consequences if we do not overcome. Handling life head on is a tremendous undertaking that forces us to take tremendous responsibility for our own lives. It’s so much easier to ignore our most glaring faults and accept them as just a part of who we are, unchangeable, or minor character flaws that are okay to be ignored. It’s easier to procrastinate the work of transforming our lives by taking responsibility for our thoughts and actions. Ignoring responsibility or placing it on someone else is more emotionally simple and stable.

Dealing with life as it is forces us to deal with us as we are. This is frightening. We can’t pretend we’re someone else when we hold ourselves accountable for what we’ve done. I know I want to live in a dream world, pretending I’m my ideal self when I’m far from it. I want to minimize my flaws, accentuate my strengths, and find somewhere external to place blame for my big character flaws. It is all too rare that I take a brutally honest look at all of my worst qualities. I want to pretend I am already the person I want to be instead of admitting I’m far from “the Word made flesh,” instead I know the word of God, but in the actual life I live, I look a lot more like just another person in the world. I know a secret about you. There’s a part of you that is afraid to vulnerably reveal who you are right now to God, yourself, and others.

We have to humble ourselves. We have to come clean and lift the veil hiding our dirty selves. It’s okay that we thought our lives would be further along by now. It’s okay that we don’t have the money we thought we would, the education we hoped to have, the community we want, or the transformation that we thought that would have been accomplished in us by now. It’s okay that I messed up. It’s okay that you screwed up along the way and are not where you want to be and are not where you should be. Just because you sabotaged your own hopes and dreams by sin, sloth, and selfishness, doesn’t mean that there is no hope now. There is tremendous hope now for all that will not pretend to be someone they’re not or pretend to be better than they are. Unless you open yourself to the potential pain of failed expectations by being honest about what your life is and who you are, your future has not hope. God transforms us from where we are at, not from where we think we are or should be. We have to bring our darkness into the light in order to change ourselves and our lives. It will do no good to bring only those aspects of ourselves that are already light into the light because transformation can only happen when we humbly lay ourselves as we truly are before God.

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