One question has haunted several of my difficult seasons. “Who am I?” This inquiry shows no discrimination. Whether you’re a man, woman, child, elder, homeless person, or CEO; we can all be confronted with our inadequacies. But when life hurts more than usual, this question seems to pop up often. Even the ring of the words stings more than I am used to. If I strip away what I do, what I think, who I help, the money I make, and the plans I have, then what remains? What good am I if I can’t be, beget or become?
When I was dealing with depression, I didn’t know how to explain my feelings to others. I knew how to hide and I knew how to avoid situations and I learned how to sugar coat my answers. But living authentically, with sincerity and rigorous honesty, showing grace to myself and others… yeah – I wasn’t there yet. In those awkward times, I had to rely on what the Word said was true about me. In all the noise, you can’t trust what you feel. It’s so important to know the truth, to have people willing to speak the truth into your life and to trust the truth no matter what the days may bring. My internal battle with worthlessness followed me through these bitter seasons. When I reached my limits, the lies got louder and I’m not sure I could’ve told you who I really was.
At the same time, I can’t even imagine what my mom and dad went through. They both had such big dreams… I wonder what they looked like from a hospital bed? They knew their mission wasn’t complete and that the Lord still had work for them to do. But we all placed such a high value on our work for Jesus that we didn’t always see how dedicated he was to His work in us. He didn’t bless us because we were so good; He gave us many blessings and He sustained us through many trials just so we could bring Him glory. We strive to serve the Lord well, but each person in my family has been placed in a position where we might never have been able to serve Him at all. And in that scary place, His love didn’t waver, His plans weren’t changed, and His favor was still free. Jesus was not afraid of our new limitations, in fact I think He uses us more now because of them.
No one plans for life to fall apart, but when it does (and it will), you must have something on the inside of you that can withstand the pressure. One of the many blessings of being a Christian is that we have Christ in us. (John 14:17; Romans 8:9-11) He gives direction and purpose to who we are. Everything we once thought, said, and did should now be under the new authority that abides in our life. But I propose that this is not enough; there must be more. I believe that Christ in us is only the beginning. All of the anguish and agony that the world tells us we must go through is not ours to participate in.
I contend that there is a place in our walk with Christ Jesus when, not only is He in us, we are in Him.
“As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” – Colossians 2:6-7 (KJV)
Let me give an illustration: My family loves to work on old cars, especially the fixer-upper kind. One day, we find an old car that’s on it’s way to the junkyard. Its owner wants to “junk it” and sell it for scrap parts. However, today, it came across our path and we wanted to “save” it. So, after a little haggling, we purchase the piece of junk and bring the car home. From the time we said that we wanted the car, it’s destination changed. It was no longer headed for the junkyard; it was headed for a home. In spiritual terms, that’s Christ in us. We were on the road to destruction, living in a pit of sin and death. However, at the time of our acceptance of Christ Jesus, our destination changed. Now, we are no longer headed for the junkheap; we have an owner, One that wants to make His home with us and care for us.
After buying the car, we bring it home and it sits in our front yard. My Mawmaw cries because she really doesn’t understand, but my Pawpaw see it’s potential. On the worst days, the Creator can still see what it can become. There is something in my Pawpaw that cannot let that car just sit there and continue to rot and be worthless. Thus begins the salvaging process.
Salvaging requires time, talent, and treasury. Never forget that it takes longer to build a house on the rock; it’s always harder to do things right. By sanding and scraping, you can remove all the rust. With a little more elbow grease and all the right tools, you can pop out dents, make fenders straight and put lost pieces back where they belong. It’s easy to get discouraged; things tend to look worse before they start to look better. But pretty soon, that car begins to take shape. You can see that it will have our “stamp” on it. We’ve used our favorite colors of paint, our specialty products, and our expertise to make this one of the nicest running machines on the road. This is the part where we are in Christ. As a sinner, when we come to Christ, He refuses to leave us rusted, unwanted, and worldly. One of His character flaws is that he hates to see His children suffer. He hates for us to not live in the abundance and in the joy and in the thanksgiving that his death bought. Jesus knows our potential; He sees us for what we can be. When He is in us, we are going to make it to heaven. However, when we are in Him, the life until heaven is more than just worth living, it’s enjoyable.
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” – John 15:7-8 (KJV)
How do we get here? Where is the life that is enjoyable? I know I had several miserable years while I was figuring this part out. Every single day of my life is not perfect now that I’m allowing God to work on me. I still have lots of flesh that needs to be crucified daily and I have more questions than ever, but I think most may remain unanswered and I don’t feel sad about that. In every little way, at every single point, the Lord is making me more like Him. From the inside out, He is overhauling me. There is something oddly satisfying about this being His project and not mine. Having to admit my short comings has made me more ready to receive help. Therefore, I have met some awesome people, our ministries have grown and we are able to reach farther and do more than I ever felt was possible.
There is a place of “much fruit.” It’s a life of excellence and abundance. Even in the worst of times, I walked through the valleys with Jesus. I in Him, He in me. This partnership is sure; God’s plan is perfect. The discipline that this required has made me a better leader and follower. Even for my parents, our weaknesses became strengths in the salvaging hands of God. All of our questions, fears and limitations cause us to rely on God more. When He goes to work, He does exceedingly and abundantly beyond all we could ask or think.