Who do you see in your mirror because how we see ourselves is crucial to advancing the Kingdom of God.
I struggled for years with the image of “conqueror” or “overcomer” because of my early experiences with abandonment. What my head knew, was frequently at odds, with what my heart felt.
It’s all very well to talk about having boldness and courage to advance God’s Kingdom, but if you’re someone like me and your early years were punctuated with criticism, isolation, and rejection, not to mention a lopsided “fire-and-brimstone” presentation of who God is, it’s easy to fall prey to what I call the “cotton-candy-comfort” offered in many of our churches.
It Goes Something Like This…
If you just DO enough for God, if you just GIVE enough to God, if you just BELIEVE enough in God, or THANK Him enough, or whatever your particular brand of “enough” is, then your life will abound with sweet and painless blessings.
I swallowed that stuff for a good long distance until I discovered that it just isn’t Biblical!
The Bible speaks often of suffering and going through rough seas and dark places, and not just for the unbelieving, or the rebellious.
Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation.”
Many very Godly people go through very dark stuff.
Remember Joseph, alone, accused, and abandoned in a prison?
What about Gideon hiding in a winepress, or David hunted and hiding in a cave, or the Apostle Paul ignominiously hiding at the bottom of a laundry basket?
You can make fine speeches all day long about what you believe, or you can declare yourself silly with positive statements, but it is in the darkness of that winepress or dark cave, or at the bottom of that laundry basket where you meet a God who walks with us THROUGH trouble, not far away from it.
I have wrestled over and over again with the concepts of Godly brokenness versus worldly brokenness, and frankly, I believe The Church as a whole struggles with these images too.
You could talk to me about “Christ-in-me” all day long, but that overcoming-truth seldom made it from what my head heard, to what my heart felt, or my eyes saw in my mirror.
The Church’s mandate about loving others and boldly advancing the Kingdom gets preached regularly, and it should, but I believe the core reasons we Christians so often fail to carry this through in our day-to-day lives is because a lot of us still carry the cumbersome baggage from a distorted Kingdom-self-image.
That Guilt Gets Translated To Our Intimacy Issues With Our Heavenly Father
Such had been my case.
I was seven years old when my Mother decided to forsake family in search of her longing to be seen as “a professional woman.” Predominantly raised by a father who had extremely exacting standards (that I often failed to live up to) I believed that my failures were letting him down, and that guilt became deeply engraved in how I saw myself.
I was raised by two very broken people who struggled all of their lives with their own defective self-images which meant I came to the conclusion early in my adulthood that God was impossible to please.
Therefore, why even try?
God was perfect. I was not. End of story.
Seeing myself as “a reject” in my mirror had become normal.
Now, here I was sitting in my own personal ash pile with my life in ruins, thus confirming once again my faulty-self as an utter failure, and an unworthy outcast of His Love.
I suppose that’s why God’s tenderness made me so uncomfortable. A critical demanding God I could deal with, but this “Abba-Father” who wanted to come close and get intimately loving and transparent with me, with all my messy issues? No way! It was way too touchy-feely for me.
And so, I kept pushing God away.
But what about our deal?
YOU ARE BREAKING MY HEART!
Let’s talk about this mindset of yours.
Yes, mindset, because for reasons that are yours alone you refuse to give it up in spite of what I tell you.
Listen to Me again Mighty One.
You are not rejected by Me.
You are not My outcast.
I will never throw you away!
Why do you dwell on the past deeds of others this way?
Why do you keep returning to this pigsty for just one more roll in the mud?
I have dressed you in snow-white robes of My righteousness.
I have covered ALL (Yes, all.) of your sins and failures with the red, pure blood of My Son’s heart.
I want you to stop this now because you are breaking My heart. I know your past. I know what others in your past have said and done to you. But, what about Me? What about what I have done for you?
Enough dearest—it is enough.
You are Mine not theirs. Mine!
I decide what you are to be called.
Do you hear Me?
Then listen again and wrap your heart in this truth.
Wash your mindset with righteous words.
Build a new image for your mirror—one that stands on—My love.
You are not an outcast!
I have chosen you and will not throw you away.
“But as for you, …you are mine, my chosen ones; for I have chosen you and will not throw you away.” Isaiah 41:8-9