Dying a Death that Kills

A man makes his plans but God directs his steps.

Solomon tells us that even our jobs are vanity. The conclusion of the matter is unless we fear God and serve him first, then our work will be vain, and ultimately all of life.

Holding on for life is a great thing to do on a roller coaster. But holding onto my dreams for life may just kill me. Why? Because I can only move in a direction but God informs the end game.

I do believe that God gives us the desires in our hearts. Not that he grants them as a genie would but that he has placed within us passions, skills, and interests that are good for us to pursue. Hopefully we discover these before we head off to college and train ourselves in our respective fields. God leads and calls and directs. This is a good thing.

But as a famous theologian once said we are idol factories. If my dreams become the source of my joy. If my dreams become the focus of my thinking. If my desires become the source of my happiness. If my goals become my obsession, then I am in danger of making a God given desire into an idol. This can happen in the day to day tasks as well as the big dreams and goals that we all have.

God wants us to pursue our dreams, but not in a way that if delay in fulfillment should happen, it causes us to lose our contentment. It causes us to lose sleep, it causes to beg in prayer, it causes our view of God to alter. It becomes an idol I worship instead of God.

I have learned how easy it is to let my desires fall into a fire and simply come out as a golden calf. I didn’t mean for it to happen, as Aaron told Moses, but the pressure of the crowd and the emotion of the moment, well, here is your god.

God is the only one who I am to worship. This is easy to do if we think of worship in terms of only bowing down, but what consumes our minds, our thoughts, and even our prayers? Does it grant joy in my salvation or does it steal it? God wants us to pursue our dreams but they are supposed to bring us closer to him. If the promise land becomes our end, well God is more than happy to put a desert in our way.

If we think God must perform a certain way for us to be happy, If we believe God must come through in a specific way for us to have stabilization then he will probably simply destabilize us so that we fall into theverlasting arms. This may seem like a hard truth but only if we view our definition of the solution as best, when God wants our very lives, he wants to know us. God wants us to find him.

I can only ever go in a direction. I cannot define the destination, I mustn’t. The destination must be God himself. It is like following a light at the end of a dark cavern. The path I walk to get there is my own based on where I am but the destination must be the light, it must be him. I spoke a little bit about this path before about courage. Walking, truly walking with Christ is an invitation to death. He asks us to take up our cross in order to follow him.

Might it be because the only way to know truly him is to understand his sacrifice? To understand his sacrifice we have to understand the chasm that stood between us, the chasm he crossed to get to us. Suffering is a picture of God’s gift to us. We tend to think only in terms of our sins that distanced us, which is true but the suffering he endured to bring us near gives us insight into our distance thus into his character and heart for us.

As much I hate to admit it, suffering teaches us.

As I carry my cross I grow to know him more and in turn to love him. I do not rejoice in suffering, I endure it for the sake of the relationship. If God went through so much suffering to get to us, will he really just leave us hanging? Will he really just abandon us on the way to the destination?

So with a new year upon us I have to ask myself how will I proceed? We are moving to Tucson, I am to take on a pastorate position. I walked ups and downs rounds and bouts and even though I see a bright future I need him more than ever. With a job on the horizon and a bit of the metaphorical forest starting to clear I now see a valley of jagged rocks with pointy bits waiting for my exposed ankles to pass by. I cannot let up now for now the real challenge begins.

I knew that when the job came a new enemy would veer its ugly head. My own confidence it seems is the next punching bag. I am still learning to fight. As I look at the new stretch of path laid out before me my mind is filled with my inadequacies and shortcomings. I recognize this for the attack that it is but I knew it was coming. I don’t know if my foresight is comforting or worrying.

I know God is inviting me forward and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is with me. Is my new found instability the reality of my life or am I just now noticing how exposed I am apart from God? I will not move out from here if you are not with me. I know that much and my time in the desert has reinforced this. As much as Romans has helped me build a foundation of truth that is without compare, I find solace in the book of Psalms of late. The people cry to God but they always come back to praiseAs praise is now a major function of my duties, I welcome the part. I know the road less traveled isn’t easy but I know all the more where my compass points.

To battle my new adversary I feel God calling me to two things. My identity which is framed by his identity and returning once again to worship. Worship positions my identity rightly before his which is rightly primary over mine. As I sit in his truth and bestow on him praise I can rest that my identity is fastened to him. I am only because he is, or rather because of the great I Am, I can be also. My identity takes focus as I remove it from myself. He calls me to come and die so that I can truly live. 
So I return to the Lord who is my rock. I worship before the Lord of hosts and King of Kings knowing that I am apart of the household of God. Even though ease may not be my calling I want to run again, and keep running till I see his face. God, here is my life, here are my dreams, here is all I have. Take what you want even if it kills and causes a death that I didn’t want to happen because you are the bringing of new life.



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