Saturday, January 29, 2011

It's Time to be Honest

This morning I was listening to a podcast from The Village Church; it was part 1 of Matt Chandler’s sermon series on Habakkuk. I love Habakkuk (and for more than just the fact that his name is fun to say and spell). 

Side-note: When I was in college I once told a guy that I couldn't date him unless he knew how to spell Habakkuk. He didn't. But then he read Habakkuk and talked to me about it and I dated him anyway. Not my best decision, but that's another story...

One of the things that I have always been grateful for in my spiritual life (and this is certainly no credit to myself, I believe we’re all born with innate strengths & weaknesses) is that I have always been painfully, scandalously, ridiculously honest with God. My prayer journals can attest to this fact.

Matt says that Habakkuk was very honest with the Lord; he thought God wasn’t doing the right thing in the situation and he told God so! I love that. My logic has always been this: God already knows exactly what you’re thinking. It’s kind of like when you have something to tell someone and you think that person is going to be mad at you, but in reality that person already knows what you’re going to say and they’re not mad at you at all.

God is often portrayed as a very angry figure and if read the Old Testament, ok, I’ll give you that, The Almighty was angry. A lot. But He was (and is) also compassionate and loving and that’s why He sent Jesus – to bear the brunt of His Holy Wrath so that we don’t have to!

Because of Jesus we can come to The One True God and tell Him about ALL the crap that’s inside of us. I can tell Him in no uncertain terms when I’m angry, jealous, tempted, confused, depressed, hopeless, discouraged, frustrated, exhausted, thrilled, excited, hopeful, crushed, disappointed – anything you can feel, think, or experience – you can tell Him all about it.

And why? Because He’s God. He made you and He knows best how you should function. Even when, with all my heart, I truly want to change something about myself (like my anger towards someone who’s hurt me), I most often find that I just can’t do it. My thoughts and feelings take over and I am powerless to be the way that I desperately want to be (not angry at or hurt by that person). That’s because we weren’t meant to be independent and make ourselves perfect; we were created to be completely dependent upon His Love and Power in our lives.

It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. 

I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally differently. (Romans 7:21-25, The Message)

When we come to Him with the messed up stuff in our minds, hearts, and behavior I believe that He is thrilled because that’s the only way we can get help, heal, and live lives of freedom and joy in Him.

When I was a teenager my parents told me that if I was ever out with friends and got too drunk to safely drive home (although they never condoned teenage drinking), that I could call them to come pick me up and that they wouldn’t be mad or punish me. That was because although I’m sure they would have been disappointed in my drunkenness, they would have been more concerned about my safety and wellbeing. God is just like that. He hates our sin, but He is equally invested in our spiritual health, peace, and joy. No one has ever been “too bad” to be accepted by God in Christ. No one.

So, talk to Him, tell Him your most distressing problem, tell Him you’re desperate for His help, surrender to His Power and Love, and let Him do His work in your life. You will be amazed. I can promise you that. A life surrendered to God through Jesus Christ is nothing short of amazing.  I really can’t recommend it enough.

I’m looking forward to listening to the rest of Matt Chandler’s sermons on Habakkuk. God is good.

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