April 23, 2010 – Journal entry from my moleskine.
I write these things not so I can bear my soul out to the whole world but rather that someone might be helped in seeing my faults and pitfalls. I wrote this after listening to a sermon preached at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary by Matt Chandler on Hebrews 11:32-12:2.
It is so easy for me to suppress and ignore my true faults through the pacifying work of noise. My earphones, text messages, podcasts, books, computer, all act to distract me from my true problem: myself. When I am not forced to dwell upon the pervasive sinfulness, which has so infected my heart, I am happy. Happy, not because I dwell upon Christ and press into Him, but because I have tickled my own ears. At the end of the day, when all is silent as I lay my head down onto the pillow, the Holy Spirit does his convicting work. Suppressing the truth in unrighteousness by thinking it is nothing, I roll over and brush off the gentle whispers from the God who I claim to worship.
When I awake the next morning I turn on noise. Why? Because no one likes to be alone with only their thoughts. If that happened we might feel something. It is much easier to try and live vicariously through music, friends, media, movies, and sermons. When I wake in the morning, it is not heroin I choose to fill the syringe with but rather noise. It courses through my veins wreaking havoc on my soul. I am my own enemy. The destruction of my own soul seems to be my end goal. [I dare not say that drink, music, friends, movies, and media are inherently evil because they are gifts from the creator. I do say, however, that they quickly can crowd out the one who ordained them all to occur.]
If it is not noise I use to slowly suffocate my conscience, it is my ‘dreams.’ Unsatisfied with the Creator’s choice in my giftings and place, I envy and dream f what I see to be the norm. “A pastor of a large church. I preach well and people are saved,” is the line I commonly tout. I rationalize that intense desire and envy through the self-justifying ploy that I wish to be used mightily by God almighty. It is not the self-justifying phrase I tell myself that is wrong, it is the self-justification of it all. It is the envy of other Pastor’s ministry coated in a nicety of ‘good pastor phrases.’
It is not You for which my affections stir. My soul does not delight in You. Easy to fake, my hands in worship tell other people different. There is an aura of falsity that surrounds me. It keeps me warm at night. If I honestly examine the condition of my heart, I find I look down upon others and see that I am higher up thus believing I deserve praise. Reality shows that I deserve no praise but rather death because I attempt to usurp the praise from the only three that deserve it. It is cowardly and foolish to look down at others. Looking up at Christ, comparing myself to him—when my head outgrows my current hat size.
When I am honest, I am much more evil than I know. Attempting to find band-aids to cover up life threatening wounds when I need surgery are the actions I take every day. It may seem less painful to simply cover up a festering wound rather than getting stitches but gangrene, which I do not see now, is a reality that is farther down the road.
Hebrews 11 mentions those who are faithful. Hearing from pastors who are in the camp of Hebrews 11:32-34, shutting the mouths of lions and putting armies to flight, makes me think this is normative. I hear from them and think “I would like to put armies to flight,” so I sign up. The writer of Hebrews does not stop here. Suddenly, without warning, he continues into verses 35-40. It is far more common and likely that a lion will devour me.
The question is not will I, but rather when the lion is gnawing on my arm, will Jesus be enough? When, at that moment, I look in horror at the beast devouring my flesh, is it Jesus I turn to? Do I see that Jesus is better than the accolades, a wife, a people who sing praises to me when I tickle their ears? Is Jesus better than my health, my family, food, drink? I know when the old lady listening to me preach asks me if I love my Jesus or preaching I will, without hesitation, respond “Jesus ma’am.” Will it be true though? Do I preach for my own glory or Jesus’? Am I using Jesus to make myself appear better?
I am in desperate need of the grace and mercy from the one whom I continually take advantage of.