Saturday, April 24, 2010

Some Thoughts After the Women's Retreat

Clearly I’m in blogging lite mode. Or blogging slump mode, perhaps. Facebook posts are more frequent, being shorter and requiring less thought and all.

I’ve just come home from a women’s retreat with my sisters from church. God has so blessed our church with our pastor and his wife. Mama B, as we affectionately call our pastor’s wife, is a humble, authentic servant of Jesus who He has gifted to open His word to us and teach us well. The theme of our retreat was “True Blue” and Mama B basically exposited the book of Philippians this morning as she shared with us what a true blue, authentic follower of Christ will look like. It was real encouragement, as were the other speakers, lay women from our church, who I got to learn from this weekend. May God be glorified as we seek to daily live as true blue, authentic followers of Jesus Christ. I will greatly miss this church family when we move in June.

I have been struggling recently with emotions again. Not doubt in the truth of the scripture, that is settled for me. No, the struggle that has plagued me has been more a struggle with a desire to more fully and deeply embrace the truths I believe, to live out the faith in a real way and be sure that what I say I believe is what I really, deep down believe, because what I believe will inform how I live, and I'm trying to identify the lies I may still be believing that cause doubts to creep in where I have no desire to entertain them. It has been a soul-searching time and a real struggle.

The Lord graciously allowed me to recognize something this weekend that I think I have known for a long time but have needed to come face to face with and repent and move away from. I suffer from a perverse form of pride which leads to a very low self-esteem. I know, pride and low self-esteem seem to be oxymorons, but not really. This kind of low self-esteem is really a thinking too much about me, being too introspective and perfectionistic, which leads to me feeling I have nothing to offer and that I'm just not good enough and just not lovable enough, which becomes paralyzing and certainly doesn't lead into me learning to care about and love others well, so, it’s really a form of pride.

Anyway, what I have realized is the root of this paralyzing shyness, this low self-esteem, this feeling that I have nothing to offer, is really that I have a sinful lack of belief that God really does love me with a covenant love. I know the right answers, I can explain covenant and give the correct answers to the E.E. questions, but I have a hard time deep down in my heart of hearts believing He loves me. I have a good grasp on God being holy and sinless and the Judge of all. But, for some reason, I have a much harder time really getting that He is love. That’s hard to admit. The bottom line is, Jesus said that He will not cast out those who come to Him. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. He took on human flesh and lived a sinless life and redeemed us with His blood. What amazing love He has demonstrated. I am His. It doesn’t matter what my feelings say. I am His child. He died to set me free from my pride and sin. And He will complete the work He has begun in me. His word is true. And I am seeking to see and savor Him, to offer the sacrifice of praise, to worship at His feet as Mary did, remembering that most important part of finding my satisfaction in Christ alone.

Do you ever read through the Psalms and hunger for the kind of love for God that the sweet psalmist of Israel, King David, evidenced in the words he wrote? I want to love God like that. Something else that struck me this afternoon as I was pondering all I heard this weekend and thinking about something else that I’ve been wanting to blog about for a few days was that David did not spend much time fretting over whether his faith was real or whether he was really saved. He was confident that he was God’s man. That was settled because he knew the God he served. He knew that our God is a covenant keeping God, and he rested his confidence in that. I can rest my confidence there, too. Jesus came to save sinners, and I am certainly a sinner. It is not the strength of my faith that keeps me in His hand, but it is the strength of His promise, His word, His finished work of redemption that holds me there. All the promises of God are yes and amen in Christ Jesus and it is in Jesus alone that I can rest.

We find a beautiful picture of what God does for us in the life of David. In 2 Samuel 9 we find the account of David’s kindness to Mephibosheth. After the death of Saul and Jonathan, and after David finally realized the kingship of Israel for which he had been anointed years earlier, he asks the question, “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” Well, there was still a son of Jonathan’s who was living in hiding, a son who was lame in his feet because of an accident that happened when those who thought they had to fear David sought to protect this son of Jonathan by fleeing with him. This son, Mephibosheth, was summoned to come before David, and he did so, falling on his face before David. Can you image the fear he felt?

But rather than the ruthlessness he could have expected from a worldly king, this king showed him unexpected kindness. Here is how the scripture records the exchange: “So David said to him, ‘Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually.’

Then he bowed himself, and said, ‘What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?’”

I cry every time I read this passage. David understood covenant love. And the reason I cry is because I am reminded again of the great covenant love God shows us. Because what David, as an imperfect man, was able to do for Mephibosheth is a mere shadow of what God does for those who trust Him in repentant faith. He loves me, dead dog and hopeless sinner that I am, not because I am so lovable, but for the sake of Jesus my Redeemer. Jesus took my sin and paid the penalty I owe. I do not have to fear since He has exchanged the filthy rags of my pride and perfectionism and hypocrisy and sin for the royal robes of His righteousness. I am a new creation in Him. Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to His cross I cling.

And while in myself I have nothing to offer but to cast my dead dog self upon His mercy, in His grace He has raised me up to newness of life and filled me with His Holy Spirit to eat at His table and to grow in His grace as He produces His fruit in me so that I may serve His kingdom and fall on my knees at the foot of the cross in wonder, worship, love and praise. And I do not have to listen to the lies of the enemy that would try to paralyze me by doubt. I am saved by God’s grace to glorify and enjoy Him forever.

Hallelujah! What a Savior! What amazing grace!


Elle said...

Hey Rebecca,

I appreciate what you have written. Sinful pride has been a besetting sin in my life as well. I praise God for His sanctifying work that has known no bounds in both the cleansing and purifying necessary to make me His servant and not "self-imagined mistress of myself".

Anyway, two things I thought of while reading this that made a real difference in my life. 1) God never had to start loving me because He has always loved me. 2) Rom. 12:3, "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you."

The 1st one renewed me in understanding His foreordaining love in Christ to me. The second taught me that the point is not to think too highly OR too lowly but to think rightly. As His Word has transformed my thinking and is conforming me, thinking rightly is a humbling and necessary spiritual discipline. In practice, when I doubt or feel inadequate or guilty or whatever, I have to ask myself, "What does God say about this?" His answer is always there--in correction and guidance.

I apologize for being so long in your comments but this post hit it home for me, and I hope that my comments will encourage you. I'm not a finished work (on this earth) by any means, but I rest in the certainty of His finishing me.

Rebekah said...

Thank you, Elle. Your comments are very encouraging to me in this struggle. I love what you said about asking, "What does God say about this?" This is where I need to rest and practice. And yes, we can most definitely rest in the certainty of His finishing us. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.