I’m doing a self-assessment here and asking myself this question: Do I lack a single thing in this world?
Well that’s a loaded question. Of course I lack things. Things like cute and professional grown-up clothes. Things like a “big girl” purse instead of the usual pockets of my basketball shorts/scrub pants. Things like pretty heels that are miraculously comfy and cute at the same time. Before you get all “Wow, you are so materialistic” on me, there’s more, non-inanimate things that I’m lacking. Like a healthy, balanced level of self-confidence. Like common sense (don’t laugh). Like stable and reasonable and non-volatile emotions. And for those of you that have spent 30 minutes with me, you know that I lack self-control when it comes to the number 8 and having things “just so.” Think I’m exaggerating? Ask my baby sister. I always know when she borrows my clothes. How? Well, because my closet is color-coordinated and I always find the light blue top mixed in with the dark blue tops – or worse, the orange with the purple. I’m a perfectionist at heart, which means that I undeniably lack things – several things, all of which can be summarized with this phrase: I lack perfection.
And cue the “Well DUH. You’re human” responses. Yes, I’m human and I know that means I’m imperfect. But knowing that I can never attain perfection doesn’t stop me from trying to pack my life into neat little squares. There are distinct and separate “boxes” for everything to go in. Friends go into one of two categories: BFFs or non-BFFs. Family has several categories and subcategories: mom’s side, dad’s side, cool older cousins, bratty little cousins, cousins that are really, really good at doing my hair for events, cousins that burn my ear off with the CHI, those I see rarely, and those I see far too often – seriously, I could go on forever. And then there’s that other box, way in the back, dusty and forgotten. The box I tried to put God in.
The different seasons of my life warranted new reasons for keeping that box hidden with a deadbolt, preventing anyone from peeking inside – or worse, keeping its contents contained. For a long time, it was a lack of depth in my faith, a poor understanding of God. Often, it was just apathy and arrogant disregard. And then it was a combination of fear and guilt and shame. I was convinced the plans I had made for my life would be ruined if I opened that box up. That fear and guilt? I only experienced those things because I knew I wasn’t living the life I was meant to live.
The thing is, life is messy. It doesn’t fit into neat little boxes. It’s real and unpredictable and chaotic. What you place in one box, at some point, comes into contact with what you place in the others – eventually you get this one, big, messy blob called “LIFE.” We can plan the next 100 years of our lives down to every last detail, but it would still do us no good. We have just as much control over our own lives as we have over Mother Nature.
This need for perfection, this hunger for control ruins us. I unintentionally tried to confine God to a designated area of my life – designated by myself, of course. I wanted Him to stay in His box until I decided to let Him out. I wanted to choose when and where I would let that part of myself show – the part that knew I was nothing without Him; the part that knew I was in desperate need of Him.
Y’all. When we try to control our own lives, when we try to tell God when and where He can move, He shows us (in a very big and real and often, upsetting way) that He’s the one in control – not us. He reminds us that we are completely powerless, helpless. He breaks us from our prideful arrogance and then restores us in the most humbling and beautiful of ways.
He shows us grace.
These verses in Job show us how He restores us after breaking us from our prideful arrogance. This is what we experience when we surrender our lives to Him, when we engage in this relationship we’ve been gifted with. Attempting to live a life of obedience to the Lord and actively working on our relationship with Him allows us to surrender – so much so, that we don’t even realize it’s happening. He softens our hearts to His Love. He proves to us that He’s got everything figured out. The Lord promises us that surrendering to Him and living solely to please Him will bring us the blessings listed in v.15-19. We will be spotless, with no hint of sin upon us. We will be safe and secure. We will not fear. We won’t give second thought to our sufferings here on this earth. We won’t hold onto past hurts or past guilt. We will shine – even in our sin and failures, we will SHINE. We will have a Hope. We will have Peace.
My need for control, my pride, my shame and guilt and fear – these were all things that were holding me back from actively engaging in the relationship Christ offered me. Trust me when I say this though: these are just a few of the things that held me back from surrendering to the Lord. In the same way, some of you are standing at the base of your mountain of “things” that are holding you back from living a life of complete abandon for the Lord. The reality of it all is that this mountain before you is a figment of your own imagination. The idea that our actions, thoughts, and emotions prevent us from having a successful and loving relationship with the Lord is completely false. It’s a lie fabricated by Satan himself. More often than not, we convince ourselves of this so-called “truth,” and save Satan the trouble of having to plant these thoughts in our heads.
The only thing holding us back from experiencing Joy and Life to the fullest is ourselves.
Yes, we have sinned and do sin and will sin in the future. Yes, we’ve screwed up in more ways than one. We are right to wonder how God could ever love us despite our past and present (and future even). But rather than allowing that wonder to lead us to self-belittlement, we must let that wonder take us to a place of worship.
There is absolutely nothing holding us back from that once-in-a-lifetime kind of Love we’re all searching for. Instead of telling ourselves the lie that we can never be made right with God, let’s remind ourselves daily that we’ve already been reconciled with Him. He has faithfully waited for us. He has actively and passionately pursued us. He wants to be with us for eternity.
He is the only one who has given all of Himself for us.
It’s time we gave all of ourselves to Him.