I am not infallible or inerrant. Neither am I sinless or untouched by the fall. As much as I wish I were, I’m just not. I’m a normal guy, saved by grace from bondage to sin, yet still struggling with sin.
I want to be known for my devotion to the Lord. I admire men of faith whose lives are marked by their fear of God, and I’d love to be remembered like that. I want people to see in me a desire for and a pursuit of holiness. I want to be able to say with Paul, “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us,” (Philippians 3:17). But I know myself too well to claim any such title. If God puts me before people, I pray they learn to love him better and to follow him more faithfully. I want to lead people to fear the Lord. But if I’m helpful, it will be in spite of me, not because of me.
I’m far more broken than I like to admit. In fact, I think I’m far more broken than I even realize. I struggle constantly with pride, selfishness, laziness, apathy, lust, bitterness- the list could go on. I pity myself on a ridiculous scale, and I often catch myself desiring the pity of others. I am horribly self-centered, and I regularly see the world through the lens of my personal happiness, seeking out how everything and everyone can serve me rather than seeking ways to serve others. I doubt God’s goodness and power. I’m double-minded. I’m judgmental.
I also regularly wrestle with insecurity. I don’t assert myself when I probably should, and I’ve often been assertive when I should have backed away. I struggle with self-image, feeling overly self-conscious more often than not. I feel crushed by the weight of life and responsibility, making minimal progress when I think I should be further along in my journey. I feel like I’m chronically playing catch up, yet never actually recovering any ground. I feel unfit to manage the tasks I’m called upon to accomplish. I often feel the need to reach out, but I genuinely don’t know how to most of the time.
I love to write, but I find it surprisingly difficult to put my emotions into words. I’ve found myself at the point of tears recently, and I genuinely couldn’t understand why. I feel overwhelmed and outgunned, despite the fact that I live by faith in the God of creation.
I sometimes feel ashamed for following my convictions around Christians, which is especially strange.
Even as I write this, I feel the flesh desiring responses of pity, yet I know that’s not my purpose in writing this. I recognize that I can easily slip into a “woe is me” type of mindset, but I know that isn’t right. I don’t claim to be worse off than any of my brothers and sisters. What I’m describing are simply the natural experiences in the life of a Christian, the battles that we all must face as we find ourselves caught in the tension between the flesh and the spirit (Romans 7). The particular struggles may differ from person to person, but the struggle remains nonetheless.
So how do we deal with the trials of life? We follow Paul’s example in running to Jesus:
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
We rest in the Gospel message, that Christ died for sinners (Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3). We rest in the strength of God that is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). We trust in the goodness and love of God that will never fail and that frees us from condemnation (Romans 8), in the God who is working through our trials for his glory and our good (James 1), and in the God who will bring the work to completion (Philippians 1:6). And we learn, as Paul did, to set our eyes on things above (Colossians 3). I am unfit for the task, but God is all sufficient. I am weak, but he is strong. I am poor, but he is rich. I waver, but he remains. Let me be found faithful.
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.