I have been weak lately.
In honesty, it has been with a measure of intentionality as I have been asking God to show me who I am… who I really am… which is different than who I think I am or who I want to be.
Before we launch out with the West Valley church plant, this is a timely season to secure my personal life on the foundation of God’s gracious gospel… which leads me to ask (without a preformed answer): Who am I? What are my blind spots? What image do I work to keep up at the expense of authenticity? (As most of you know, I don’t hide much. I can be authentically me – transparent and the whole bit – but who is the “me” I am being transparent about? If it is not the real me, it is hardly authentic.) All this has come as a result of church planter assessment and Kori and my desire to explore each other and ourselves in new and honest ways. I am reading a book by David Benner, The Gift of Being Yourself – a timely tool to plow the depths of my being. In sum, Benner makes the point that true experiential gospel transformation cannot occur merely by applying new gospel ideas and truths to the old self. We must first discover and know the image-bearing gift of our real selves – the self that God has created with unique gifts and characteristics… the self that does not find its identity in social/cultural ‘attachments’ or image-conditioning and maintaining.
Before setting aside this time to dig deep, I was afraid. Honestly afraid at the layers of self that I don’t necessarily know are even there. The layers of the me I don’t know because I am consumed with the me I wish I was. But there is nothing to fear. Why would I not want to know more about the true sinful broken self that I am – because all I will find there is more of the nature of God’s gracious love in Christ which has always been for the real me, not simply the me I wish I was?
Perfect love drives out all fear.
It is not a frightening process, though it is quite afflicting. I am going through a season where I question everything about myself. This too, shall pass, but hopefully not right away. This morning, Isaiah 48 helped me make sense of it all and why this is a very good time.
Speaking to his people Israel, in Isaiah 48:10-11, God says: I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.
What I hear in my whole self is this: my “not-sure-who-I-am-for-this-season-because-I-don’t-know-why-I-do-what-I-do-or-why-I-care-about-what-I-do-or-why-I-say-what-I-say” season of life is the furnace of affliction simply because, at present, I do not bear the name of my Creator and Redeemer as I should. I know this. I do not bear his glorious name as a husband or father or pastor or man as I should. His glorious name deserves more than the “me” I have been putting forward.
I need no other reason for this season of question – soli deo gloria. Weakness in the furnace of affliction for the glory of God. Thanks be to God for sending his own Son into the costly furnace of affliction – the real furnace that the real me in my sin deserves. My whole self has been spared… so now I pray with Augustine: “Grant , Lord, that I may know myself that I may know thee.”