...He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will--to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment--to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of his glory. For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Reading this chapter one day, I was struck by the words highlighted above. I kept reading them day after day. I thought about all the people I'd heard say, "I need to know myself better...I don't even know who I am." But here, Paul is saying that his prayer for these people was that they would receive the spirit of wisdom and revelation to know Christ better--not themselves. I've thought a lot about this, and here are some of my thoughts.
I am not saying that we should not know ourselves. If we don't, we can end up with a lot of wasted years--going with the flow, allowing circumstances to dictate what we do or don't do instead taking control, and responsibility for our lives, and not even knowing what is important to us in this life, let alone to Christ.
I believe that in knowing Christ better, we also come to know ourselves better. I say that because I've learned that in my Christian journey, he has led me down paths of self-discovery. I've come to understand why I've done some of things I've done, and may continue to do, but I've also learned that I, and only I, can decide to make changes that will ultimately give me a more fulfilling life. I've had to learn to face my life and take responsibility for what I've done, and continue to do with it. You see, I believe that part of knowing Christ, is knowing what he has for me here and preparing myself for it. Facing my stuff, has led to a ministry of helping others who have the same struggles as I have had. I couldn't do that before, nor was I even aware enough to do it.
Knowing Christ better, is being more aware of his holiness and my sin--yes--my sin. I am not perfect, far from it. I only stand forgiven because I accepted his forgiveness and what he had to go through to offer it. Knowing Christ better leads me to having more of a passion for the things he has a passion for, where before I kept my head buried in the sand. Knowing him better has led to more understanding of who He really is, not the person I was taught or made him out to be. I had a lot of distortions in my Christian life, and he has been revealing to me more and more of what the truth is about him.
Knowing Christ better puts me face to face with my insufficiency, my self-righteousness, my wrong doings, my arrogance...He won't let me hide from it for long. Knowing him better changes my priorities, my dreams, my desires, because as I know him better, I want more to please him and serve him--to have his heart, his mind--to hear with his ears, see with his eyes, feel with his heart instead of mine that can become calloused or apathetic.
He doesn't let me escape myself. He doesn't let me hide behind ministry anymore. He doesn't let me keep running. But of course he can only do these things in my life as I allow him to. I could turn him off I suppose. I could run from him--but he'd only find me again and I would have wasted even more time. I could turn a deaf ear to his voice. But why would I want to? Why would you want to? I know the paths he takes us down can at times be very painful. I know, I've been there. But I can honestly say, the end result is worth it. I had more pain and misery trying to run from it. Doing it my way for most of life wasn't getting me anywhere. But as I know him better, and he helps me to see myself through his eyes, I can look at the ugliness with hope instead of despair.
copyright: January, 1998
One day I was walking up my stairs praying, or crying out to God. I had been feeling for a long time that I was in a rut. I could get so close to Christ, only to feel distant again. I felt like there was a wall in front of me that I couldn't get through, but I didn't now what it was. I had been praying for a long time that God would show me what it was.
This day, as I climbed my stairs, I said, "Lord, let me see myself as you see me." In my mind I saw this black ugly heart. I thought no wonder I can't stay close to him, and he doesn't keep blessing me. There was some awful sin in my life. So I began asking him to show me what my sin was that kept me at a distance from him or he from me. This led me to a journey that was painful and difficult. One day, typing a paper for my pastor, I was reading about people who had problems just like I did, and as I began meeting with my pastor, I began to understand why some of these problems were there and realized there were things I needed to deal with. But I was still left with this feeling that I was unacceptable to God--that I still had this black, ugly heart that was repulsive to God. And he wasn't revealing to me what the sin was. It got to where I couldn't pray anymore--I could only cry. I had no words really to say what was inside, or to even know how to pray. And approaching him was too painful because he didn't seem to be coming any closer, and certainly not telling me why he wasn't.
One day, I went to visit my former pastor, who was now in Richland. Things had built up inside and I knew I had to have some answers. I didn't know what to do. So we sat at his kitchen table and he and his wife began praying. All I could do was sob. He stopped and asked me what I was seeing. Well of course the first thing that I saw, that I always saw, was this big, black, ugly heart. I told him so. And I told him how frustrating it was because he wasn't showing me what it was I was doing wrong. My pastor began praying, "Lord show her.." I was expecting to hear him say "what this sin is". Instead I heard him say, "Lord show her how you see her, not as her past has painted her." All of a sudden my eyes were opened and I realized what I was seeing was from all the shame I took on myself from past experiences. I knew this to be true of others who had been through the same circumstances, but never once considered it to be true for me. It wasn't God that was seeing a black heart full of some hidden sin. It was me. And it was my shame that kept me at a distance. It kept me f rom really believing that Christ loved me just as much as he loved everyone else. I always believed everyone else was better, more righteous, more loved, more accepted. And I could never find out how to get there.
And that's not the end of it. Later in the prayer, he asked me what I was seeing now. I did have a picture but I was too afraid to say it...too afraid that it couldn't be true. So he told me what he saw....a little girl dancing and playing in a field of flowers. Storm clouds were coming, but she was naive, unaware. But God was pleased with her. When he told me that, I was able to tell him what I saw and wanted to believe with my whole heart. I saw a little girl, me, twirling around like a ballerina. I was looking down as if from God's own lap, and I could sense his heart, thoughts, and attitude. He was pleased. He was looking at her, at me, with delight. That was just the beginning of seeing, believing, and understanding God's great, unconditional love for me.
When we finished praying, my pastor asked me what kind of flowers they were. I told him they were daisies. You see I had always had a picture of myself being totally free an joyful and running and playing in a field of daisies--something I've never even yet done. So I know God desperately wanted me to know his love for me, and he found a way to show me what I hadn't been able to grasp before. Isn't he great?!?
Do you personally know how deep and wide and long and high God's love is for you? This is my prayer for you, to know this love that has no bounds.
copyright: January 1998