Oh no! A Christian writing about “self”! He must be a fake?! We’re supposed to deny ourselves (Matt. 16:24)!!
HA! Okay, so the title of my post this morning may look a little self-centered and deceiving.
Allow me a few minutes to explain?
First and foremost, this is my personal experience. I am not here to preach, argue or correct, and I won’t discuss apologetics. This is simply my personal experience with whom I have grown to know within me — He, the mighty power of God.
As I was searching for the reason to why I had always seemed to fall short of being someone more than just a man who went through the motions of life — those motions: being whatever they were at any given point in the time I had lived — I always had an emptiness accompanying them. Are you familiar with that, “emptiness”? Perhaps you have a different definition of it. I was always plugging away at whatever it was and grabbing at anything to fulfill the empty place, whether it was money, relationships, food, substances of many kinds, conceitedness or self-pity. Man, take your pick. It was unlimited. The world has many things that are available to fill the void. Personally, I went through too many to count. Somehow, I always felt as if I was less than a “potential”. Nothing was ever good enough. Although others saw my efforts as acceptable, I, personally, saw inadequacies. It always seemed as if my self-esteem was the very thing that kept me from being more than I was. In hindsight, I remember thinking that the way to become all that one can be (filling the void) was by overcoming the need to be liked, observed and acknowledged by others, and building one’s self up with atta boys.
I suppose I was always an outcast. I grew up without siblings. All of my mother’s family was much older than me due to the fact that my mother was the youngest of seven. I never had the opportunity to be with my dad’s family. I also had the trauma of childhood playing over and over in my young head. With a deep seated fear instilled in me from an early age, I found it hard to make friends. I always believed that they would also hurt me in some way. As I matured, I found myself without the common. I had a very tight-knit group of friends, and really, the only reason we were friends was because we partook in the same harmful habits. Needless to say, I was always separated from a team. With the exception of a few school activities such as band, and outside of work, I had a pretty solitary social life. A natural born introvert? A product of design?
God’s will for me, I believe, started way before I had known it or realized it. It was during this time of growing up the way that I had that shaped me into someone who always seeks a deeper meaning than the things on the surfaces. Deeper than the achievements, self-recognition, self-importance and competitiveness that is so deeply ingrained in our society. The way I had developed was teaching me how to recognize the part of myself that could not be filled with the world. It had me focusing at a certain point in my life on the great void: the thing within me that was never satisfied with the world. My focus suffused to the way to be whole, even though I had no idea what that was at the time.
I ran the gauntlet of religions within the world. It didn’t take me long to figure out that all of them are based upon the inner power of self ; pride. Although, one religion that I began to dissect was Christianity. This one — this guy, who claimed to be God — said things (according to the Bible) that were nothing like other religions. He said things like, “deny yourself”, “I am the way” and “I am the truth”. I began to really dig deep in order to find out if his claims were true.
He looked like the other gods of before: Horus and other pagan gods. He resembled them in many ways, but the Bible was pulling me in a unique direction. The more I read it (or listened to an audible version of it), the more the words began to define the void within me. I had read about the pagan gods and had never felt the power that I was experiencing through the words of a man named Jesus. His words spoke to my core, and I don’t mean the “longing to find peace”, or a “weakness within”, as many people seem to say a need for a god is. No, this was a powerful, extrinsic force! It was nothing found within the world, and it had a grip on me that hasn’t left since. It was, what I now know as, “Holy Spirit.” It was the real God. It was the Creator showing the me the wholeness, oneness and fulfillment I am within His divine plan, through and in the man named Jesus.
I was / am susceptible to His voice. I’ve always been distant from the need or desire to build myself up. Well, not always. There was a time in my late twenties and early thirties that was clouded by deep rejection of caring about what God had thought (if I had cared if there really was one). During that time, I was doing things that only revolved around the very thing I had always seemed to despise in order to feel like I really mattered. I grew marijuana at one point, drove a nice truck and always had nice vehicles, had a house with great parties inside and made good money. Spoiled. Grooming myself with the worldly things that the world loves to lavish itself with. But, after the Lord shut down the things that were trying to fill the void, He sat me aside and opened my eyes to Him. The world that I had known began to crumble after the best friend I had made — the only confidant I really had up until that point — died. It was through his death that I began to experience the desire to find a deeper meaning.
You can read through my blog and see some of the things that have led me to the current moment with the Lord of the heart that makes me who I am. You can read about the grief, hardships, struggles, victories and the very real human ways in which I still question the claims of Jesus. I still fight this flesh, each and every day. The flesh is always trying to make sense, distort, conquer and overthrow faith in the Lord. Yes, I believe in a devil. Satan. A powerful force that is always trying to push the power of the Lord aside. I’ve seen those forces. Have lived those forces. Struggle within those forces. But, I am ALWAYS drawn back to the knowing of Jesus being exactly as He had said — God with me (Immanuel; Elohim).
I sometimes wonder if others truly feel that power? I often times view other Christians as just regular people spitting out a bunch of talk to make themselves “fit in with the rest”. Maybe that’s a misconception, and I don’t know the heart of anyone. Judgment is not always accurate, anyway. But, I do know that this guy who claimed to be God in the flesh has changed my life. He has taught me to be in the world but not of it, even though I have found that only One has ever been able to accomplish that — Jesus. He has taught me that HE overcame the world, and without Him, I cannot overcome anything. I cannot create the heavens and the earth, the beauty of the natural landscapes outside my window or the intricate complexities of His creations, and I cannot fill that void I personally know with anyone but Him.
I’m still a mess, but God is definitely working in me. I know it. My family knows it. God knows it. But, what I know now — that I didn’t know then — is that God has a plan for all of those in Christ Jesus. The omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent Creator of the universe has a plan (a way) to all of us to be fulfilled, and the way is Jesus.
I believe my journey had shaped me into someone who sees the importance of emptying one’s self in order to become something greater. “Greater” is only He who is within me. Not self. Not a god of my own making. Not an inner power derived from me. It comes from His free gift to man — The Christ.
I place my vulnerability, transparency and experiences within view with the hope of others seeing a place within themselves that need God. A place that they are trying to fill with the many things of the world — or self — and coming up short. I sincerely pray this morning that you open your heart to Jesus and consider the words He spoke. Maybe you will see how they’ve spoken to me. Perhaps you will see that the only true power we have here lies within the power that He places within us, through a relationship with Jesus.