The Father is taking me in a new direction and His latest endeavor within my heart is to attack something that I have propped up for years; how I hope others see me. This concept has been an idol within my heart since I was a little boy. I want to be accepted and loved by those who met me and I want to feel as though who I am is good in the eyes of others. Validation. He has brought me now to a place of realization that I have no control over how others receive me and for the first time in what seems like forever, I feel free. To lay down that idol of co-dependent need for external approval has been beyond liberation although the process has been personally terrifying. I feel naked when in all reality, I have exchanged my heavy, ineffective armor I made myself for His lighter and stronger armor forged in the Messiah’s blood.
I don’t know about you, but I realized that I really, really stink at making my own armor. When I took it off at His gentle and loving beckoning, I realized that it was lined with fig leaves. Fig leaves, as I am sure you recall, are what Adam and Eve attempted to cover their sin with in the Garden of Eden right after their fall. I was trying to defend myself with my own means of self-preservation. I wanted the outward appearance of wholeness, but that desire led to a life of fear and the greatest fear that manifested was the fear of being discovered as less than perfect. I know, silly right? But it was my own definition of perfection I was not living up to. I had an image in my head as to what my perfect self would be and unfortunately, I never saw that image looking back at me in the mirror.
What I am finding out though, now that I am more willing to be honest with myself about who I am, is that I am willing to go places both physically and spiritually that others are not willing to tread. If you sit with me for a counseling session, you will get nothing but deep questions and a push for emotional honesty. Trust me, the Father has done the same difficult, and at times torturous, process with me.
Recently, I laid in bed in the blackness of my room, comfortable under my blanket, and my eyes began to open slowly. After some fluttering to consciousness, my mind began to wander as it usually does without the distractions of life. My heart and mind began to intermingle and heady logic slammed into emotional pain. I cringed at the impact as memories of pain, shameful acts I had committed, critical words spoken against me emerged from my heart. My mind began to defend itself by praying to the Father repentantly for all the sins I had committed in my life.
“I have so much sin and junk in me. I’m so sorry I put it there.”
My heart sank into my guts as I realized the damage I had done to my brain and my spirit and I began confessing the sins of my past in repetitious fashion, repeating apologies and repentance prayers over and over again.
“Why are you telling me this?” a voice said stopping my thoughts in their tracks. “Think about what you are saying.”
My mind fell silent as a new perspective emerged. I dove deeper into myself, passing excuses, pain, and illusions. I felt as though I was crawling deeper into a cave. Then the realization slowly arose up around me like a mist rising out of the cracks in the rocks. My repentance was not repentance. When I would spiral into these mindsets and ideas about my sin, I was handing YHVH an excuse as to why He is not getting my best and why He shouldn’t use me for anything.
Sure, I was confessing and I absolutely felt awful about my sin. But in all reality, I wasn’t moving AWAY from my sin. I was passively handing the Father an excuse as to why He shouldn’t use me to build His Kingdom. I was letting my flesh and sin speak for me when He would come to walk with me.
Exodus 3:11 “But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?"
What I brought to the Father every time the Spirit gently manifested was my self-pity, not my sin. Not everyone is going to have a visually dramatic purpose like Moses in the Body of Messiah but all of us should be doing something and growing more and more like Him every day. My repetitious apologetic prayers were an attempt to avoid the real anguish of my heart that leads to true repentance. Sin should hurt the soul of a follower of Yeshua and repentance is the indulgence of that pain.
2 Corinthians 7:10 – “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.”
Expressing self-pity and regret is not repentance. The kind of sorrow that brings repentance places me in His presence to account for my disobedience and that should be an AWFUL experience. Even though He forgives and His grace is the most precious and necessary element on the planet, my heart should be moved to tears at the thought of hurting Him and myself. Self-pity, in essence, is an unfit and unclean sin offering.
A relationship is built on vulnerability. I am vulnerable to Him and to His will for my life. His disapproval of my actions cuts deeply within me and His love reaches a place within my soul that only He knows exists. But for Him to reach that place, I have to open my arms, heart, and mind to His presence. But His holiness will bring to light my lack of holiness and the feeling of shame can be overwhelming. I am learning just how much courage it takes to go through this walk. Not to face danger, but to face shame. It is a scary thing to see yourself in a state that is less than optimal.
If I were going to dinner with a king and was preparing to sit at a table with him, I would hope that I would show him the proper amount of respect for both his position and his invitation to dine with him by dressing for the occasion. Alas, we mere mortals have no such dress for the Heavenly Father’s table. While we walk the streets with our fellow beggars, we can compare and contrast ourselves with one another and get slight rises and falls in our self-perception as we pass those with more or less than ourselves. But to respond to an invitation to attend a king’s dinner means that we are so far out of our comfort zone and we already know that nothing we have compares to the majesty of the palace or the crown. Merely attending means that we must come face to face with our meagerness.
The courage it takes to enter into the throne room with the rags that barely covers my nakedness not only means looking upon His glory, but also seeing the contrast of our two stations and realizing that I am so much less than He is. His presence is a direct assault on my ego and arrogance.
For me to bring self-pity and regret instead of sorrow is in fact a means to not honor Him for who He is. It is not worshipful nor is it even respectful. Acknowledging the contrast between us is a form of worship. To see Him as anything less than His true station in the heavens is arrogance on my part.
My Father, I pray that I finally can express the sorrow that leads to effective repentance. I am so sorry for bringing less than my full heart to you. I pray for your grace and forgiveness for my arrogance and ego as it has robbed you of your proper place of glory in my life. I bow my knee to you in sorrow and humility. Remove my transgressions from me and my life. My weakness is for your glory. Please use me for your will and to build your Kingdom. I will be bold and courageous to enter your presence and to face you no matter what it reveals about myself. I bow my head, my heart, and my spirit to you. Please be patient with me. I love you, my King and my Father. My Rescuer.
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