Friday, November 23, 2012

You just want to lay down and die

You know those nights when you just want to lay down and die, go and be with Jesus apart from this world?

Bare with me. This is not one of those emo posts about being suicidal. It is a genuine desire to be with Christ. To once and for all die to my flesh and live with Christ, without the hindrance of this evil flesh. 

It is one of those nights when I wish I could be laying, basking before the Throne of God.

It is one of those nights when I wish with all that is within me that I could be redeemed from my pride and my selfish tendencies. 

It is one of those nights when I wish I could serve better, love better, and be more of who Christ was.

It is one of those nights when I lay in my bed and see the selfishness that has overcome me for the past few weeks.

It is one of those nights when I am weeping on my knees, recognizing my complete and utter dependence on God.

It is one of those nights when I just want to run away from this world, the sin that entangles me in this world, and be delivered to experience Heaven in all it's splendor and glory. 

It is one of those nights when I think of Ecclesiastes saying, "all things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun." 1:8-9

And my heart, quickly loosing sight of the eternal goal of living, says, "what is the point in continuing? I sin against the ones I love. I cannot fully love them. I am incapable of loving them the way I want to be able to love them, when I pray for them I cannot concentrate whole heartedly. My prayers become selfish, focusing on myself instead of on the task. This world is full of sin, I cannot escape, I try and try and try again to run from the sin, knowing the Lord has given me the strength to do so, and yet I fall again, agreeing with Paul in the deepest sense of his words, "So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good" (Romans 7:14-16 NLT). 

And what am I to do? 
How am I to finish this race that has been set before me?
Except, fall on my knees again and again in humility, reminded that I cannot take one step forward apart from the grace of God. 
Calvin says, "In the beginning God fashioned us after his image [Gen 1:27] that he might arouse our minds both to zeal for virtue and to meditation upon eternal life. Thus, in order that the great nobility of our race (which distinguishes us from brute beasts) may not be buried beneath our own dullness of wit, it behooves us to recognize that we have been endowed with reason and understanding so that, by leading a holy and upright life, we may press on to the APPOINTED GOAL of blessed IMMORTALITY."

Therefore, "here is what God's truth requires us to seek in examining ourselves: it requires the kind of knowledge that will strip us of all confidence in our own ability, deprive us of all occasion for boasting, and lead us to submission" (Institutes, 2.1.1-2).

How often I find myself depending upon my own strength. Looking to myself instead of to Christ. 

How often I find myself numb to the ways of God, exuberantly diminishing His power, and relying upon the fatal nature of my repulsive flesh. 

And I am so fascinated by my own ability to perform, or flatter the ears of men when speaking "godly" words, that I fail to see my words are not my own, do not come from myself, and are not meant to glorify my ghastly flesh. 

Time and time again I find myself seeking "most eagerly to be flattered" (2.1.2). 

This I have sought more often then naught. I have been tediously concerned about the details of serving well, loving well, portraying Christ well, all while vainly pursuing my own conceit. And feverishly yearning to satisfy my pride which itches my flesh endlessly, whispers lies without ceasing into my ears, and quenches my thirsty, wicked appetite.

"Nothing pleases man more than the sort of alluring talk that tickles the pride that itches in his very marrow. Therefore, in nearly every age, when anyone publicly extolled human nature in most favorable terms, he was listened to with applause. But however great such commendation of human excellence is that teaches man to be satisfied with himself, it does NOTHING but delight in its own sweetness; indeed, it so deceives as to drive those who assent to it into utter ruin. For what do we accomplish when, relying upon every vain assurance, we consider, plan, try, and undertake what we think is fitting; then-while in our very first efforts we are actually forsaken by and destitute of sane understanding as well as true virtue-we nonetheless rashly press on until we hurtle to destruction? Yet for those confident they can do anything by their own power, things cannot happen otherwise. Whoever, then heeds such teachers as hold us back with thought only of our good traits will not advance in self-knowledge, but will be plunged into the worst ignorance" (2. 1. 2).

Father grant me not the selfishness of my pride, but tear my flesh away that I may not seek the pleasures of man, but seek alone your Heart, your Glory, and your Gospel. That I may find with sweet surprise, earth but a pathway to the skies. And all my flesh in burning pleas, shall die on its selfish knees. Alone, my heart finds peace to rest, Jesus, alone, my righteousness. And that grace so free indeed it sings, my lips distressed, no words to bless. you my love, my soul's goodness. 

My heart so tempted to seek the pleasures of man, likes here, comments there, what am I seeking but man's approval? O that He may rid me of this flesh, and take me once again to that Pure Holy Rest.

It is a disease, a disease we have failed to kill. It is a disease we have failed to recognize. We FEED off of Facebook and Instagram. Our flesh most triumphantly seeks, longs, desires, appeals for, strives for, and yearns for the quickly vain acceptance of man. Our joy is inextricably attached to how many likes we get on Instagram, how many comments we receive on Facebook, and how many followers we have on Twitter. 

Fight this flesh, no matter what it means you have to do. Legalism is not a way of the Lord, but Jesus said, "If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell" (Matthew 5:29, ESV).

August 15, 2013:
Needing to remember these things as I think of a fallen relationship with my best friend, and am reminded of my imperfect, unworthy nature, hidden deep in the marrow of my bones, and making itself apparent in my flesh daily. Thank you all for the prayers as I grieve this loss.