Thursday, January 27, 2005

worthy

isaiah 42:3

examining
cracks
the dish
shatters
falling
from my
bloody
hands


Worthy

I have struggled with worthiness issues the whole of my life. Thirty-four years have I questioned if I was indeed worthy. Listening to a musician sing, “You are my worthiness.” I began to wonder.

If Christ died for me while I was a reprobate heathen, if He died for me before I even acknowledged Him, if He loved me from the foundations of the earth, have I ever been unworthy?

I think of Peter:
“Do not call unclean what I have called clean, arise Peter, kill and eat.”
“Not so Lord.” (This is me after all).

My entire Christian life, I’ve heard labor to enter into His rest.

My mind catches the labor part, but oddly enough misses the rest. I’ve been sold a get rich quick faith. I’ve been told that God will reward my suffering and it makes me wonder. Nowhere in the Book does it say will reward “in this lifetime.” Not that we serve a God of loopholes, never. But where does it say we are monetarily blessed for anything? The widow got her oil, Peter got a net full of fishes to be sure but I keep reading passages that tell me to take up my cross daily. Lay down my life. Serve my neighbor. Give my extra cloak. It seems we are to monetarily bless others more than the other way around.

In the case of Job, his family was restored but he was not given seeds to plant and over night new children sprung up, was he? No. He waited a lifetime for those children to be restored unto him. Sure, the flocks and finances may have been a faster matter, but I have never heard anyone from any pulpit say, look at the breadth of time covered in these verses. A lifetime. For one afflicted, any wait is too long. With each subsequent birth, the memories of the lost children would have poured forth afresh. Job grieved a lifetime, just as He was restored over a lifetime.

This begins to make sense to me. If Job was restored (not overnight, mind you) over the breadth of a lifetime, then perhaps my restoration will come slowly over the rest of my lifetime. Perhaps. Perhaps it will come with tears and joy, laughter and pain interwoven.

Provided my treasure is not stored up in heaven.

I’ve long believed God to be this manic personality. Kind one moment, vicious the next. But I am beginning to understand it from a different perspective. I hear all the time how God will stop giving me stuff if I don’t shape up. (all this time in the darkness, I have been saying, just tell me what to do and I’ll do it—the body of Christ has plenty of things to do if you are looking for something to do, but very little of it is of real value to a sufferer.) I try to shape up, and remain woefully unworthy feeling, aw, He’ll never give me nothin’.

I can’t shape up. Do you get that? You can’t either. We can’t be perfect. We are not meant to attain perfection in this life. We are meant to be perfect IN CHRIST. He is our righteousness. He is our perfection. He makes all the deposits, we make all the withdrawals. Lowsy deal on His end, but for the Love. He did it all and continues to do it all, for the Love.

The way I see God’s ability to give is using the clogged artery analogy. There are lots of things to eat on this planet. If I eat that In-and-Out Double-Double with grilled onions three times a day, it will not only affect my waistline, but my arteries. Does this affect God’s ability to give to me? No, the consequences are all mine. If God had in His heart to give me long life, I shortchanged myself and clogged my own arteries. I diminished my own capacity to receive. I never affected God’s ability to give.

Am I worthy then, of this free gift? Well, the church would say, yes, but…

Whenever I’ve received a “free” gift, I never, ever, not once, looked for someone to pay.

But this is not the message I’ve gotten from the church (whether by my poor interpretation or misinformation I am not sure). I’ve believed I had to earn this “free” gift. That the “free”gift of God isn’t really “free.”

But it is. There is no bill coming. No fine print or penalties for late payment. It is truly free.

What I am beginning to see is God is the benevolent Giver. Lover of our souls. Father of mercy. We are all worthy of His love. Even the most reprobate heathen, like me, is worthy. C.S. Lewis was right. The person beside you is your experience of the Divine. We are the houses of God.

Unbelievers, too?

Yes, I believe so. Hear me out. When do we become unworthy? Who is it that gets to say we are unworthy? Who?

God.

So, if God died for us while we were yet sinners, if He loves us even in our sinful state, and knocks at the door (of the worthy), it is up to us to open it.

No man on this planet, save Christ alone, has ever been able to tell with 100% certainty who opens that door and who doesn’t. Sure, we’d like to say Hitler, Manson, and the like didn’t but I would like to believe (until it is no longer an issue), that these men fell on their knees before the Living God and opened that door. (After all, I want that kind of mercy until I die. I don’t want anyone condemning me to hell, so I don’t need to be condemning anyone either.)

So, this worthiness issue is a lie then. It is a grand delusion. I have been fighting shadows and phantoms my whole life. Because I have always been worthy. And so have you.

1 comment:

relevantgirl said...

Well written and compelling!!!

God does not owe us a perfect life! I want to be like Job who praises God when he takes and when he gives back. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

He is the worthy One!