It is my firm conviction that we ought to seek out the heart of a matter rather than settle for the outward appearance of things. To me, the issues of life flow out of the heart and in my experience so often what gets communicated, much of the time, simply serves to cover up what really is at the root of the issue, or hides the simple and obvious solution.
Life is in essence a series of transactions. Every thought, every conversation, every action that we engage in is a direct result of some sort of trade off. We learn to navigate life by being frugal (self-conserving and often times self-preserving) and are constantly making decisions as to what will cost the least to us personally in terms of sacrifice of our money, our energy and our time. We place value on material things, on the time we spend doing things for ourselves and for others as well as on the energy we expend to achieve these things. We most certainly count what it will cost us in dollars and cents. Let me offer some examples…
The most obvious “transaction” that impacts us all is the transaction between ourselves and our immediate source of monetary income. Whether it is a job, business opportunity, investment or government subsidy, the removal of this income, which we have become utterly dependant on, seems to immediately impact the other financial “transactions” of life that are obviously a big part of our lifestyle, namely our rent (transaction) or mortgage (transaction), as well as other living expenses (transactions) such as food, gas, utilities, taxes, etc.
Those are the monetary “transactions” that are so much a part of all of our lives and are so “in-our-face” because without the assurance that we will have the basic necessities and comforts of life, we become stressed and tied up in knots. This then impacts the other “transactions” we engage in such as where we will go, who we will see and spend time with, etc.
Then there are our social “transactions”. When we think or perceive that we “have it all together”, we feel more confident to be able to negotiate successful social transactions including engaging in verbal conversation, perhaps written communication and exposure of ourselves to others whether they be friends, neighbors, co-workers or our brothers and sisters in Christ. We often convince ourselves that unless we have something of value to offer someone in return for what we might receive from them (a balanced transaction) then they just might feel somehow cheated out of something or may feel slighted in some way. That just wouldn’t do! They may think less of us if we don’t give a good show. We might somehow be a drain on them, or rain on their parade. We don’t want to be a wet blanket, get over emotional or appear to be less mature than the others, so we simply hide ourselves away and convince ourselves that they are better off without us there. We would rather stay home by ourselves then be seen as not having it all together, or in some way or other be viewed as “less spiritual” than the rest.
We very often place value and worth based purely on our preconceived ideas and notions about what we believe others value and find worthy as well. We conduct our affairs and make decisions much of the time based on false assumptions and miss-guided ideas about what we believe others will think of us. Another common example of this is when we go out for lunch with a friend, we often demand to be the one to pay for the meal because we would rather pay the bill (sacrifice of our money) than give the other person even an inkling that we feel like we are imposing ourselves on them by allowing them to pay (sacrifice of our pride). Know what I mean?
I see all these very cerebral mind games as a very real form of bondage that God wants us to be completely free from. And in setting us free we are able to simply BE ourselves and not try to be what we perceive others think we ought to be or do. He (or she) whom the Son sets free is FREE indeed! This bondage keeps us away from the very ones who can be, in and through Christ, a genuine source of life and encouragement. Spirit quickened interaction with other members of the Body of Christ may actually be instrumental to set us free, or certainly to encourage us to hang on to whatever level of freedom we have already achieved.
More importantly, this type of bondage keeps us from being able to carry on a very real, vital and personal spiritual “transaction” with God, to believe that God can be THE source of Life, Truth, Wisdom and liberty right within US, and for us. Because in our carnal mind we perceive that He somehow requires something from us that we don’t believe we can give, or simply do not have to offer Him in order to please Him, then we cut ourselves off from the ONLY true source of EVERYTHING we need and desire. It is precisely in this way that to be carnally minded is death (spiritual separation from the Life of God).
WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
It becomes abundantly evident that I must come to the end of myself! It is at the point of utter weakness and vulnerability within myself, when I finally reach the bottom of the barrel, that I gain a keen awareness of my own inability to do anything of or for myself. It is at this point of realization that “of myself I can do NOTHING” that He is MOST ready and willing to BE my vital source of strength, wisdom and understanding. When I am weak, then HE is strong (in me). It is precisely at this point that I finally realize that His grace is truly sufficient for me!
WOW! When I realize that it is ALL based on God’s amazing grace, the rules of the transaction change! I gloriously discover that I have NOTHING to bring to the table except to offer up myself to Him, to present my self to Him as a sacrifice and to trust Him to DO IT ALL — for me and in me! He must increase, and I must decrease!
As I have walked through certainly one of the greatest struggles of my entire life over the last few months, tearing free from my dependency on a man-made substance which I heavily relied upon all of my adult life to keep me from a hellish experience, I have come to understand experientially all over again that this process I find myself in is designed and tailor made specifically for me, to utterly strip me of ALL of my dependencies on ANY thing or ANY one other than Him. And when I force my mind to let go of the feelings of anxiety and desperation, fear, doubt and worry about what I simply perceive “could be” the consequences of letting go of these dependencies, to actually throw EVERYTHING upon Him in abandoned trust, I find a peace and an assurance floods my soul and guards my mind that is indescribable in any human terms or language. When we have truly tasted THE true peace that passes all understanding, we can never go back to the false, shallow sense of peace that we seemed to experience by relying on something other than Him alone.
He floods me with faith that His word and His promises are sure and the sense of His presence returns which literally becomes my strength to face the issues head on. I find that the fog begins to lift and I can think more clearly. As I think more clearly I become encouraged that I actually have His mind on the matter and there are answers where only moments before there seemed to be none. Hope returns where the situation seemed utterly hopeless. That hope gives way to a deep sense of joy that all will be OK. I am assured in my heart and mind that HE IS IN CONTROL! That’s because He truly IS!
My dependency shifts from the earthy, natural, material and temporal things of this world onto HIM who is supernatural (of the spiritual [real] dimension), eternal and where there is real power over the natural elements of this (my) world and situation, to effect real change whether financial, health related or in my social relationships. Like any loving father, He delights in us when we place our trust entirely in Him. When we demonstrate that we trust only Him by intentionally breaking our reliance on these worldly thoughts, emotions, perceptions and dependencies, His heart is moved to go to battle on our behalf and to prove Himself worthy of our trust. His desire is to prove His faithfulness to the promises He has given us, to prove His faithfulness to His own Word. Real freedom is found in the realization that THE BATTLE IS THE LORD’S and HE IS VICTORIOUS over ALL our enemies! The outcome is sure and we are simply the beneficiaries of HIS victory. It is faith in HIM, through the faith OF Him, that we find true peace right in the midst of the storm. We find we can truly cease striving and rest in HIS works.
Beyond that I realize that I am nothing without Him, without His grace. But with Him and in Him, by His grace, I am becoming everything He is transforming me to be. And, all the others, who I perceive “have it all together” are really just as messed up (in and of themselves) as I am (in and of myself) and we really do have much more in common than I thought. So, hey, I can be real and open about my issues and they won’t love me any less or think any less of me. Do I love them any less or think any less of them when I discover their weaknesses? NO! In fact I find I love and accept them even more readily because they are willing to be real, open, honest and vulnerable. But hey! It’s okay for others to be real, open, honest and vulnerable….. BUT NOT ME! Right!?
We’re ALL in this together and together we stand, but divided we fall (much more readily at least). When we find our ALL, our source in Him, we have learned how to tap into the true energy source Who dwells within each of us and we get re-energized through our actual trials rather than mowed over or wiped out by them.
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst–not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.” (John 4:13-14)
Now that is a transaction I can buy into!
Bless you all!
Scripture references: 1 Sam 17:47, 2 Sam 22:1, John 3:30, John 4:13-14, John 8:36, John 15:5, Rom 8:6-7, Rom 12:1-2, 2 Cor. 12:9, Gal. 2:20, Phil. 4:7, Jam.1:2-4, Heb. 4:9-11