I allow words to define me. What I say I am. What you say I am. How the world sees me. How I see myself.
The words of my status like those on a resume. Harsh. Loud. Hollow. As if I believe the words were my identity–my wealth and value. Vainly seeking the approval of “them”, I fall short every time. Broken, beaten, weeping tears like acid rain on my cheeks. Angry. Bitter.
If comparison is the thief of joy, it robs me every time. Stuck, spinning the wheels that self-perpetuate the despair, self-loathing. I think there must be more than a vain attempt to gain approval–to prove I have worth. And for that worth I claw and grab whatever vain glory within my grasp. Then, safe within the tower I call The Approval of All, I never rest or sleep, working the billows, manning the parapets, drawing up my bridge, filling the chinks in my armor and walls with chain and mortar, hoping they won’t turn to elusive dust that blows away with the wind.
They must never know I am weak. They must never see me foolish, or silly, or uncertain, for uncertainty screams out my lack of control. Screams out my failure. Screams out that I am not who I appear to be.
Then to fail. Hard. Horribly. To know they know the extent of who I am. Naked. Exposed. Bareness of sin. I want to hide– cower in a corner with my shame while fear eats away my joy and guilt robs me of my dignity. If courage is to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart, then I’d rather cling to my shame in fear than expose it to the light. Afraid. Afraid. What will they think of me? What will they say I am? How will they look on me when they know my shame?
I cannot live forever with this fear dictating my life–a slave driver at my back whispering…
I am not worthy.
I am not good.
I am not powerful, or wise, or deserving.
But now hear, O Jacob my servant,
Israel whom I have chosen:
Thus says the Lord who made you,
who formed you from the womb and will help you:
Fear not, O Jacob my servant,
Jeshurun whom I have chosen.
For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.
They shall spring up among the grass
like willows by flowing streams.
This one will say, ‘I am the Lord’s,’
another will call on the name of Jacob,
and another will write on his hand, ‘The Lord’s,’
and name himself by the name of Israel.
|| Isaiah 44:1-5
I am the Lord’s.
He says I belong to him.
No gift or merit that I deserve.
I have done nothing–could do nothing–to win his approval or affection. It’s freely given.
He is my identity. Chosen by him. Secure in him. My striving seems so hollow in light of all he’s done.
Holy. Pure. Righteous. Worthy. Chosen before the beginning of time.
Secured forever in his blood. If he does not condemn me, why do I condemn myself?Perfect love casts out all fear–and he loves perfectly.
Let go. Let go. You cling so hard, you weary child–you’re crushing worthless dandelions in your small, sweaty fists. Let go. I love you–my love will fill every nook and cranny of your restless heart. Let me be enough. I am enough.
The weakness does not change, nor do the responsibilities and tasks. But changed is the heart. No striving to make up for past mistakes. No works-based merit to achieve. The past is the past, today is a new day. Live in the grace that is today.
Chosen to do good works–first, chosen.
The gospel is this: you are more sinful and flawed in yourself than you ever dared believe, yet at the very same time, you are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than you ever dared hope.
|| Tim Keller