Monday, May 2, 2016

When I'm Exposed

There are seasons of time that are smooth.  I'm spending time in God's Word, having fun with my family, and improving in aspects of ministry.  Feedback is generally encouraging, people are sharing how I've impacted them, and are often talking about how they see God at work.  These are good things.  But I'm content with the status quo.  I don't like change.

A few weeks ago, my pastor preached on Philippians 3, and he ended with this thought: "I'm sick of being content with the past.  I want to move forward."

At the time, I thought, "Yeah, this is great!  I want us to move forward!  I want our church to grow!  I want to see our community transform, to be salt and light to the outer-most parts of our communities, to evangelize the lost, to raise up new disciple makers!  Yes, I want that!"

I forgot that part of the needed change is me.  I might be a disciple, but I'm definitely a sinner.  God reminded me of my overwhelming need for a Savior over the coming weeks:
- Increased temptation
- Scrutiny about thoughts I shared publicly
- Not preparing enough for a public event
- Multiple people reflecting back that I sounded angry and disappointed when speaking to others
- Increased levels of anxiety

Add on a heavy-work season and emotionally-heavy conversations, I feel stretched and inadequate.

Three weeks ago, I thought I was ready to take on the world.  Now, I feel ready to take on my pillow.  I'm frequently sleeping instead of getting into the Word.  When I do get in the Word, I feel distracted.  I indulge other comforts, longing for rest.  I'm anxious about the future, but I don't think to pray for it.  And my joy is low.

I know why.  I'm not spending time with the lover of my soul.  I'm spending more time doing, less time communing.  And because of that, I'm starting to do less, because I'm finding less joy.  I feel dry.  I feel sad.  I am discouraged.  To the point where I compare myself to everyone and everything, and in every instance I see a sign in blinking lights that says "failure."

God is good to expose me.  But I don't want that.  I want to think that I'm doing well.  That I've got my act together.  That I have had a major impact.  That I'm loved.

But the only way to truly be loved is to receive it.  God's love is received, not earned.  Which makes exposure not only possible, but hopeful.  It's what brings rest.

 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.  (Hebrews 4:11-13)

When God exposes, he protects us from disobedience!  He gives life!  He grants us rest!  Why?  Because Jesus already died when I was at my worst.  I can boldly approach God with my failures, because I also come to Him with Jesus.

"And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."  (Ephesians 5:2)

Jesus is our offering, which means even when we see the worst things about us, we are accepted.  He was perfect, because we couldn't be.  It allows exposure to be freeing, rather than crushing. 

So the blinking light that screams failure.  It's right.  I have failed.  And that's okay.  My worth isn't based off of where I've failed.  It's found in where God succeeded.

We have freedom to be exposed.  And because God sees all, and still chooses to love, it propels me forward.

- It allows me to share when I'm feeling temptation, rather than try and fight it on my own

- It allows me to be okay with the scrutiny, and even consider how I can grow

- It allows me to see that I should have prepared better, and apply that to next time

- It allows me to repent of my anger, and instead choose joy

- It allows me to run to the Savior with all of my anxieties, and trust that He will do good to me, because He cares for me.

How can the Gospel help you welcome exposure?