The mind is an unpredictable place. It seems as though mine has a mind of its very own and will run wild with an inner dialouge I might not have necessarily welcomed. I often ponder small moments, dream about the big ones, as well as find myself crawling my head into a dark space where it could be dangerous to escape.
But this is when I pause and am reminded (convicted, rather), “Why am I always only thinking about me? How could I be so consumed with myself?” Because frankly, I am (a painful admission to make but probably the truest one I can). I know that the obsession with self kills the soul. So why do I continue?
Of course, I know the answer. Simply put, I am fallen human who’s desperately in need of saving. I also think it’s because I want validation. I desire comfort and stability. Somewhere inside of me, there’s a belief that I know what’s best for my soul and will do whatever is necessary to obtain it. Basically, I want what I want when I want it. I know we all have this struggle but how rewarding can this be? How could I ever possess freedom in it’s truest form with that perspective?
I’m not a particularly goal oriented person. I do have goals, of course, but I find that I am not worried with achievement and much as I am with the journey. I desire the depth and beauty of life and find great meaning in the bigger picture. However, I believe what makes life worthwhile is having a healthy balance of an objective big enough to catch our imagination as well as our personal goals and dedication. And what bigger goal is there than to know God?
But what does that entail? Is knowing God a feeling, like goosebumps on your arm? An audible interaction? Is it a vision? Perhaps some sort of intellectual experience? I’ve come to understand that knowing God is a simultaneous mixture of complexity and simplicity. The more complex the object, the more complex our understanding must be. Knowing God goes beyond how you would “know” a friend, a language, or a skill. Firstly, knowing God would be an acceptance of salvation, believing in His Word and living out its teachings, and living as His Spirit would call you to. There’s great beauty in the second, which is really knowing God deeply in your soul, similar to how a husband “knows” their wife and visa versa. You love one another, continually take responsibility for the other, and unrelentingly sacrifice on one another’s behalf. It’s a mutual connection and intertwining of the mind and heart.
The obsession with self proves this “knowing” to be a difficult task to carry out. Knowing requires giving time to the one being known. Giving up time on someone else’s behalf requires giving up your personal freedoms. It’s a vicious circle of pride and selfishness. But I believe it can be done. It can be done because God says it can. That’s as good of an answer as I can give.
In the last year, I faced some highs and contrastingly, several very deep lows (most of which were entirely a result of my own stupidity). I had never felt loss, confusion, and brokenhearted-ness so deeply and I had begun to wonder if God’s promises were too far beyond my reach (or if I was just too stubborn to grasp them).
In these moments, I believe there are two choices. The first would be indulging in self pity, wallowing in pride, and continuing to live a life with only fleeting glimpses of satisfaction and happiness. The second, although more costly, proves much simpler; acknowledging and abiding in God’s holiness.
But what is God’s holiness? How could I ever be able to comprehend it? How could I ever live with the assurance that He actually is who He says he is? “The holiness of God is not to be conceived of as one attribute among others. It is rather a general term representing the conception of God’s consummate perfection and total glory. It is His infinite moral perfection crowning His infinite intelligence and power” (R.C. Hodge). I must believe God is holy not only because He claims to be but if I refused, I would be labeling Him a blatant contradiction, which is the complete antithesis of His nature. John 17:17 states, “Sanctify them by the truth, Your Word is truth”. God himself is truth. His very being defines it. “When we consider the holiness of God, it may seem impossible for imperfect creatures like us to obey His command to, “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). How could we ever set ourselves apart from sin? I can only believe it is by choosing to accept Christ and living in surrender. “I am the Way, The Truth, and The Life. No one comes to the father accept through me” (John 14:6). God knew who He was creating, and I believe He intended for each one of us to receive His holiness.
Honestly, all I want is to do is live in surrender, especially of my mind and heart. I simply cannot go on living in selfish complacency. It only continues to painfully wear down my body and soul. However, I am becoming grateful for pain because through its refinement comes unexpected beauty. When I think about this, I’m overcome with awe. It brings hope to my spirit. He has so much in store. If we would just focus on acknowledging His holiness, His joy, and His peace and choose to make a daily exchange of our own narrative for His, life will be “immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine according to the power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).
“We cannot possibly work these thoughts out here. But merely to mention them is enough to show how much it means to know not merely that we know God, but that He knows us.” – J.I. Packer