“The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” -Timothy Keller
It was a painful season that I initially resisted. A season in which I had the privilege of experiencing God’s love through discipline. Although I did not see it as a privilege at first.
It was the time I came to the realization that I am truly worse off than I could have ever thought. And I am in need of grace and more importantly in need of Christ.
The problem was that I had come to believe that I am such a good person because I was meeting the standard of being a Christian. A standard which I happened to have set for myself. A standard that had nothing to do with having faith in Christ.
I believed in my own goodness as a person, therefore God owed me His goodness in return. And without realizing it, this mindset made it difficult for me to appreciate or see my desperate need for Christ.
Unable to see how much grace is being extended towards me, I was too prideful to extend the same grace towards others. With a judgmental spirit, I became a judge of men.
Until God decided that it was time for Him to rid me of these things.
Through anger, shame and depression, God opened my eyes to who I really am outside of Christ. Full of pride, bitterness, baggage, self righteousness and anger, I am not as good as I had come to believe.
He killed my pride before it could kill me. And bringing my little idols out in the open, the enemy against my soul, He stomped on them. Destroying them before they could destroy me.
This is who you are, this is where I have brought you from and what I have brought you out of. This is what the cross, blood and death of Christ has redeemed you from. You are just as much in need of Christ and grace as anyone else. Don’t you ever forget that.
I was shocked.
The discipline was hard for me to go through.
“For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Hebrews 12:6). “If this is what you loving me feels like,” I found my heart screaming, “don’t love me! You can keep your love to yourself for I want no part of it!”
But that was the most foolish thing to think. As I now find the thought of Him loving me so deeply, that He would do everything in His power to rid me of what could destroy me, to be comforting.
And then He softened my heart to help me see that He does not condemn me (Romans 8:1). Through a better understanding of the gospel, He showed me who I was and how He still came after me in my sin. That while I was yet a sinner and still had turned my back against Him, Christ died and gave Himself for me.
He is the God that sees me with all my filthiness and shame and still pursued me.
“Yes I want you,” He said. “Yes you. With all the pride, anger, bitterness, envy, baggage and self righteousness. Yes, I want you for Myself.”
And I know of no man like Him. He is the God that sees me and is still all for me.
And as this revelation of the good news of Christ was being made known to me, I stopped fighting and threw myself at His mercy. The work is not yet done.
After being drawn out of the depression into His loving embrace, I wondered if it was possible for Him to redeem the mistakes and sins committed in the past.
But nothing is impossible for Him to do. He is the God of the impossible.
For He brought to my attention the women in the lineage of Jesus Christ. The ones that had no business being there. Women like Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba (wife of Uriah) (Matthew 1). These were the women Christ chose to come through, the ones that should have been rejected and forgotten. God chose them and brought His own good purpose out of their stories and shame.
Christ was their perfect redeemer, just as He is mine. And He makes all things new.
Through the grace of God, my faith is no longer in my good works or goodness as a person, my faith is in Christ. Occasionally, I still forget this.
The season of discipline itself brought to mind the words of Mr. Beaver from C.S. Lewis book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia):
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver;
“don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you?
Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe.
But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
God bringing me through this season of discipline was not safe. I would not have asked nor prayed for it. It was painful and difficult, but it was also good. It was the most loving thing to do.
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” -Hebrews 12:11