Oh, how hard I struggle to do this: live for God’s glory. It seems every time I turn around, I have yet another selfish, narcisstic, vain, sinful ambition or motive. Nothing brings these times out like marriage. A few days ago, I listened to a couple sermons on marriage by Tim Keller and in one of them, he says that marriage is used as a santificiation tool. Now, I knew that before I got married, and I do believe God was sanctifying me through Travis even before we were married. But nothing prepared me for this!
If marriage is a sanctification tool, then sanctification happens quite a bit differently than I thought it did before getting married–because I see all my sin coming out, but don’t feel like I’m being “sanctified” from it. I’ve heard it said before “When you pray for patience, does God give you patience or does He give you situations that you have to be patient in?” Marriage is a constant situation that requires so many virtues, all of which I feel I have only a microscopic sliver of–nowhere near the full amount I would need to be a good, humble, servant-minded, submissive wife.
Travis frequently tells me “You’re such a good wife.” While I know that he says it in knowledge of (and in spite of) my sinfulness, I truly feel like I don’t deserve such gratitude or compliments. So I respond “No I’m not.” I fall SO SHORT of who I want to be–and who the gospel says I could be! Just this past weekend, I kept saying and doing things I immediately regretted (over stupid stuff!) and got to the point where I wanted to just go to bed and sleep so that I didn’t have to deal with the stupid, horrible, sinful person I was being.
I know that I’m not believing the gospel. Reading Knowing God by J.I. Packer and listening to those sermons by Tim Keller, I have been shown that I am not resting in God’s opinion of me and in the hope of the gospel. I am living in a “world without windows” as Tim Keller says–meaning I am not living with my eyes set on the hope of heaven but rather set on the concerns of this moment–namely, my own desires, needs, and happiness. When I don’t get MY way, I get angry (and most of the time, I also get even.)
I just read a blog post about marriage and the struggle to believe in the sufficiency of Christ and the gospel by my friend Katie. She wrote, “I know I am being changed daily to be more like Christ, but it seems such a slow process…If I’ve been radically forgiven by Christ for all of my short-comings and for all of the sin in my life, shouldn’t I freely give grace to those around me, especially my husband?” I feel like I could have written those words. Except I probably would’ve said “I know I am being changed daily to be more like Christ…wait, do I know that? It doesn’t seem like ANYTHING is HAPPENING!!”
I have come to realize that while in the bubble of Campus Outreach, I was guilty of using all those truth phrases of the Christian life that have been so conveniently encapsulated into bitesize nuggets (so that the Christian can suavely throw them out in any conversation). Well, that bubble has popped. And all those phrases are still floating around my head–except I no longer know what any of them mean. Oh sure, I could explain them with WORDS. But the practical side of those truths got lost somewhere on the highway between Minneapolis and Denver.
Take, for example, living for the glory of God. I can sort of wrap my mind around the concept. But I can’t for the life of me seem to figure out what that truth means for my life.
Or take Living in light of the gospel. I understand the idea. I also could tell you what the gospel is and why it should effect me. Here is what I would not be able to explain: why it DOESN’T affect me. Why I am left with being the sinful, selfish, stupid person I was before I became a Christian. I know that I will continue to sin as long as I am on the earth. I just didn’t know I would still be so…pathetic.
I feel like I am at a stalemate, like the apostle Paul (oh, what glorious words!): “I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!…There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 7:18-8:1)
The Bible doesn’t mention specifics in its exhortations to “live for the glory of God.” It doesn’t say “To live for the glory of God, you must work for charities in addition to serving the homeless, all while caring for sick animals and doing at least one mission trip every year.” It doesn’t say “To live for the glory of God, you must work at a job that contributes something to the greater good of society.” There are no specifics like that in the Bible. In fact, to illustrate this point about living for the glory of God, the apostle Paul uses eating and drinking, 2 things that every single human must do or else they die.
Even though there aren’t any specifics, I have been trying and trying to discern them for my life–and to no avail. I am starting to realize (through the help of the Holy Spirit no doubt) that the specifics of how to live out the Christian life come out of the principles of the Christian life. I need to understand the principles before I can understand the specifics.
That very thought leaves me completely empty-handed. I have seen increasingly more over the past year how completely incapable I am of discerning any spiritual truth without the Spirit’s guidance and prompting. Each time I blog, pray, read, or think about these things, I am left without my own resources, but utterly dependent on God’s spiritual provision in my life. To be sure, without Him, I am nothing.
“Wretched woman that I am! Who will save me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” The gospel is all I got.