A little confession for you: I’m a try-hard Christian at times (more times I care to admit). And then, every once in a while (about once a week) I get knocked to my knees in desperation because I simply cannot be a good girl (no surprise there, why not just learn this lesson??). I open my mouth and the attitude and words that pour forth are shameful. I want to be a good example to my children but daily I fail. On Saturday my heart was rotten, I was thinking wretched thoughts, feeling the most grumbly of feelings…..Rich and I had to run errands and as I scribbled in my journal in the car, I began to cry and the words gushed out to my dear husband….he sensed the despair and recognized it for what it was, condemnation. I was reacting to my failings all the wrong way, by condemning myself and my religion. “What’s the point of being a believer if I have to continually struggle against myself and LOSE?” I cried, “When I discover a fault in myself, or my own faults and sin are exposed to everyone around me I feel so much shame and blame my religion.” Then I get upset because of the time I am putting into self-evalutation and my thoughts run like this: “You have so much pride. You are not a good Christian at all. What is wrong with you? Despair, cry, give up!”
Rich, in seeing the way I was beating myself up, encouraged me to think positively, to remember the gifts God has given to me and the very special ways he has created me. But I couldn’t. It was too much self-focus once again. I took up my daily Bible reading and said, “The answers will be here, I know it. I just need to read this.”
My testimony is this: In whatever situation I am facing, the Lord is right there with comfort, teachings, and rebuke, if only I take up my Bible and read it. If only I see and hear what He has to communicate to me. He is so faithful! This weekend I read aloud in the car about the time that God made Balaam’s donkey speak. An angel was blocking the way and the donkey could see it but Balaam could not. Three times he lost his patience with the animal and beat him in anger and frustration.
Rich told me I was doing to myself what Balaam was doing to the poor donkey. Beating myself unnecessarily. It was so funny I had to laugh. Listen:
“What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” says the donkey to Balaam, and says myself to myself.
“You have made me look like a fool! If I had a sword with me I would kill you!” Says Balaam to the donkey, and says myself to myself.
But then Balaam comes to understand what is happening and is full of remorse, and Rich applied the passage and told me I have to stop beating my ass. (!)
Balaam goes on to say to King Balak, who wanted him to curse the Israelites for him, “God has blessed and I cannot reverse it.”
THIS IS THE ANSWER. Praise God in Jesus that He has saved my soul and there is NO condemnation to those who belong to Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1. My heart sings. He has blessed and in no way is that blessing ever going to be reversed!
Rich reminded me that what I was feeling, that wretched feeling, was my own personal fight against the flesh, which is something that ALL believers face. It hurts sometimes, until we remember that we have the victory in Christ Jesus.
It was pretty amazing, because my testimony continues, in the mailbox that very day….we received this month’s issue of Tabletalk magazine with the main topic this month being SHAME. Article after article, all written seemingly for ME and my heart’s struggles. Food for the soul, truth for the doubting one.
“Jesus lived and died not only for the guilt of our sin but for the shame of our sin.”
“If we live each day bearing the shame of yesterday, and we’re worried about the shame of tomorrow, we will never experience the joys of abundant life in Christ today. Let us lift our weary eyes from gazing upon our shame and fix our eyes on Christ, the author and finisher of our faith.”
“Shame is not the final conclusion we make about ourselves.”
“The end of Christian identity is righteousness, not shame.”
“Shame is made manifest by isolation, self protection, self-hatred, self-destruction, self-preservation, and the illusion of control.”
“Satan’s voice will lead to shame, but God’s voice will lead to glory.”
“Our shame begins to unravel as we see His dear person and know His matchless work to be our own. United to Him by faith through the Holy Spirit, our whole position changes. Redeemed and reconciled to our heavenly Father by the Son of His love, the basis of our true shame is dealt with and our alienation removed.”
So, my own struggle with trying hard is dealt with like everything else is dealt with, through the cross and the gospel. Praise Jesus! I will feel the fight at times, I will feel shame, but I am not left there….He leads me along into the glorious truths of what Christianity is all about, Jesus and His righteousness which He so generously bestows on all who believe in Him. This world is not my home, I’m just passing through……and by grace I will say, like Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7