When confronted with an immensity that overwhelms, a world that seems incomprehensible and unattainable, we can begin to wonder where we fit in.
Do I have a place?
Am I noticed?
Our selves begin to panic, become focused and intent on establishing a place, of creating an impression, of securing validation. Focusing with increasing clarity, vision, intent until the immensity that fuelled our motivations becomes blurred in the narrowing pursuit of self.
Or do we fear, retreat, step back and away from the threat, put up the barriers, make the defences secure, limit the space and confine to the achievable, attainable known. Confining and limiting until all that’s left is self?
Whether it’s fight or flight, self struggles and strives for place.
Ultimately there are only two worlds that offer this place:
The first is all about self. It’s alluring, inviting.
Seemingly full of excitement and adventure with a cushioning of comfort and no possibility of failure.
Promising freedom and rest.
Inviting the soul to discover, to celebrate, to feel alive and awakened not only to possibility but actualized potential.
The best you that you can be.
The world of self-help is spiritually intoxicating.
The problem is, it’s just that. Intoxicating.
Infiltrating deep within minds, souls, hearts that are in desperate hungering need of freedom, true freedom.
Minds that are caught in perpetual spirals of self doubt, self despair, and self deception, caught in frenzied pursuit of grabbing onto ideas, any ideas that help make sense, that offer perspective, that give meaning or assurance that you, your life matters.
Hearts that are weighed down with worry, manically restless in the mundane, and overwhelmed by obscurity and the unknown.
The world of self-help is intoxicating, but its introspection only drags the self deeper into self until all ability to wonder at other, all sense of awe before the glorious aesthetic beauties of the world, all joy and wonder in and with others is squeezed out and stifled.
Until there is just self.
Intoxicated self filling up and serving self.
The second world has no concern for self.
In this place, the self is abandoned, always set aside for others.
In this world, the self is crucified, put to death.
How can I breathe with so little space for myself?
How can I fulfill with so little time, thought, or limitation to myself?
The problem is this space is the kingdom of God.
If it is to find its place here, the self has only one answer to its pursuit of life, freedom and rest.
Death to self.
This death comes in varying forms: Surrender of self, setting aside of self, establishing control of self, denying self.
If self is to find life, to find security, life and a place in this world, it must die.
But in the fear that you will be lost as you abandon self, God speaks with comforting clarity.
As you lose yourself, you are now foundAs you die to self, you are alive
As pursuit of self gain is abandoned for following Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.
This is where you in true fullness of life, grows and flourishes in ways you never could have imagined.
This is where you are freed to love in eternal security, rooted and established in Christ, united to him forevermore.
This is where you are transformed by the renewing of your mind, where words of life are spoken over you by your heavenly Father.
No longer desperately spiralling into a world of conflicting voices.
Now given the mind of Christ. Your mind formed by and filled with the life giving words of God.
As selfish gain gives over to delight in the Lord, you are awakened to a vision, a plan that exceeds any career, family, healthy lifestyle, or athletic goal. Your heart is freed to imagine the purposes beyond this moment.
All self justification surrendered. All self promotion and serving left behind, all pride in self given over, you are free to come empty handed to receive and enjoy eternal relationship with God. As self infatuation is brought to death, your heart is free to witness a world of wonder and awe and beauty. The sight of a newborn baby, the smell of bluebells carpeting the forest floor, the silence of the morning awakening wonder and fear of the Lord who spoke and it came to be, whose word alone creates and sustains all life.
With self preservation abandoned, self serving motives and all manipulation and control put to death, there is only now truly secure, servant hearted, loving relationship with others.
With sight no longer fixed on self, we are freed to see the image of God in every living person.
Freed to grieve over the fallen, marred image and compassionately long for its renewal in our lost friends.
Free to delight in the renewing, transforming image of God growing from one degree of glory to another in our graciously redeemed brothers and sisters in Christ.
There is a battle for self and a battle of self to be fought and there are days we seem to be fighting a losing battle:
Self doubt threatens to sabotage relationship.
And in the fight for self, whispering words of degradation spill out attacking self or others. Responding in fight or flight.
But the outcome is secure. The victory is won. God brought us by grace alone into his kingdom. He has purposefully placed us, called us, redeemed us within his kingdom that gloriously extends far beyond ourselves.
Before the immensity of God’s vision for us in his kingdom, before the incomprehensibility of his grace and mercy, when confronted with a salvation and eternity that is unattainable for self , we no longer wonder where we fit in, but come in wonder that by grace we do.