First of all, I’m rising from rest to write what is pressing to be shared. I woke before the sun not feeling well and have battled this bug all day, but far more troubling than this physical distress is a troubled heart. I make no apologies for the journey I’m on or the many grapplings I readily share as I see it all as gift. I’m pressing for truth, to know what matters most in spite of the hurt it may render. Quite a long journey already at my forty-six year mark reminds me the quest for truth began 40 years ago in a young and tender place of questioning.
Interestingly enough, I’m teaching a psychology of religion class this semester as I’ve done in the past but using different texts and coming to it further along on my journey than before. We are examining the writings of Freud and C.S. Lewis. Lewis honestly admitted his reticence to believe in a Sovereign God because of what it would cost him, yet the truth refused to be denied and surrender brought not only relief, but surprising joy to him as well. The Lord is gracious like that, always giving what is best when sought.
I never wandered into the field of atheism as Lewis did, but surely spent much time in anguish over the condition of my own soul. Though “saved” I was according to the doctrine of the church I attended, the feeling of conviction of sin always brought again a question and sense of impending doom. “Am I safe?” This question would wake me in the night and terror engulf. I would pray yet find only further turmoil in my mind. Scripture proved helpful at times, but others it added to my confusion. What I found in The Book didn’t always square with what came from the pulpit, so I suffered on…
These matters of the soul are no doubt life’s most pressing for all whether all realize it or not. No way could I be convinced that there is no universal moral law and that evil and good do not exist. The evidence is overwhelming and individuals far superior in intellect to me have concluded the same.
I finally got to a place of so needing clarity that I plunged deeply into scripture looking for answers to my many unanswered questions with something I had never before had. I was willing to find and honor truth regardless of what that truth had to say about me and my soul. I was already completely convinced that Jesus was The Christ of the Cross, The One Righteous, that I put it this way to my husband: “Jesus is worth honoring even if I cannot spend eternity with Him.” What an odd statement that must sound to others, but it was something I had to acknowledge as I determined, still with insecurity about my “salvation” to find resolve in truth regardless of the pronouncement truth might make on my own soul. Another way to say it is this: even if my sins were determined to be unforgivable, I wouldn’t want anyone else to end up in the same condition so truth was worth finding and sharing.
See…I’ve been in some very dark places. I feel no better than anyone regardless of what their life is like, what they do, what they believe, etc. Yet, “for His Name’s Sake” truth matters.
As silly as this may sound, too, because I was married very young, divorced, then later remarried, and the church rules of which I had been a member no longer extended membership to me and those in my state of “sin.” I couldn’t shake that feeling of being outside, somehow less. Though they said of course I was still “saved,” I couldn’t participate in communion or have membership in the church. (I’ve been married to Erick for almost 22 years and as I write these words the tears threaten and spill as if this wound were fresh.) How can I be heaven-ready and not welcome to the table, not allowed to wash my sister’s feet? I could not reconcile these two messages. I still can’t.
I share this not to criticize my dear folks from home nor to cast a negative reflection on them or their ways. I simply share to get to the heart and depth of my journey. So you can believe me when I say I take seriously how my words and beliefs and behaviors come to bear on others. Everyone matters to me, and in a sense, everyone is just another war-battled soul in a fallen world, some struggling more than others, all having great need. Oh how truth matters, for His Name’s Sake.
So I struggled and suffered, and dug into scripture and autobiographies written by Christian theologians and people like Corrie Ten Boom. My list is long. The hours in study uncountable. And I continue…
What I’ve found is grace beyond measure. I’ve found Jesus loving me through my questions and attending to both my tears and prayers with unparalleled compassion. I’ve gone into His life and ministry through the New Testament Scriptures and found His message startling, convicting, humbling, and restoring. Indeed…I am His. I’ll never get over the gift of His grace, and I’ll never tire of sharing His goodness with others.
I also found, though, that He cares very much about what we do and why we do it. Sin really is a big deal. His nail-scarred Hands proof of my sin and yours. The answer to the question, “what did Jesus save us from?” must be addressed. He saved us from our sin. Sin nature remains as long as we have this body of flesh. But we are no longer slaves to sin once freed by His Sacrifice and filled with The Comforter, The Holy Spirit, The Spirit of Truth. I didn’t earn my salvation. By grace through faith alone, He did it all. How could I believe yet He drew me? The dawning of my condition, conviction, was the beginning of faith. His grace, unmerited favor, saves…So we are saved from sin unto good works. So we are saved from and for (there should be a stark difference between the sin from which we are saved and the works we do after.) I guess there are many good works, but I tend to see good works as being those that minister grace and beckon to others to follow Him. There is no better work than living for His Name’s Sake, always pointing others to a grace so amazing; no other can compare.
So why hurt over sin? Why concern over celebrations that degrade and dishonor (especially when it claims to do the opposite?) The answer is “for His Name’s Sake.” Either Christ is Lord and we are surrendered to His Lordship, or we are walking our own paths, carving out our own way, declaring our own “truth,” and in so doing, being our own god. This, folks, is what it’s all about. If sin doesn’t break my heart, my heart is not surrendered to Christ. How do I know? Because I know what price He paid on Calvary. He hasn’t forgotten. Neither have I.
Someone must continue to honor the greatest love, freeing love, love that does not seek it’s own and does no harm. There is no greater harm than deception. May we seek Him for His Name’s Sake, not our own. I wept this morning asking Him to bring about in me, in us, pure worship. We cannot serve two masters, not even when those two masters are The Lord and ourselves. Just one can be Lord and certainly only He is worthy. So, might we seek to know what matters most to His heart? It’s all right there in His Word. Anything that is not just, merciful, and humble that we do opposes Him. It’s that simple and, for me, sobering. Even in what is required of us, He gave us clear instruction in old and new testaments alike. Micah 6:8 tells us to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. Jesus clarified the greatest of all concerns that we should have: Love The Lord above all else and love our neighbor as ourselves.
What we glorify in our nation disturbs The Holy Spirit that dwells in me. I watch and listen and I remember truth that says our bodies are not our own, bought with a price, precious to The Lord. He died to cleanse and cover us, to protect us, to free us. A great value He placed on our bodies, souls, and lives. Are we His? Do our hearts break over what breaks His? Do we honor purity or do we celebrate the opposite? These are clarifying questions answered by the lives we live. May we answer well for His Name’s Sake.