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Who will you listen to?

by:John

If you are anything like me, you have within you a desire for greatness. Some friends of mine in a small group just recently had a discussion about this. We discussed how to cope with the desire for the grandeur in lieu of the fact that there are times when the tasks that lie before us are seemingly mundane. I come face to face with this difficulty daily, as I work in Bethany College’s dish room 4 hours a day. But this morning, I think that I learned something else about this struggle.
This morning, my heart was coping with a dull ache. This ache grew until it had seized me and I felt a sort of depression come over me. Eventually, at about 6:30am, I crawled out of bed intent on searching down the source of this internal sadness through prayer. I grabbed a cup of coffee and groggily headed over to the chapel. And it was there that I was struck with the question, “Who will you listen to?” This was the question ringing in my spirit this morning. So, I started thinking about the different voices that were out there and what they were saying.
Now, this isn’t like that line from The God’s Must Be Crazy where a woman asks a co-worker, “Are the noises in my head bothering you?” I’m not talking about actually hearing demon’s voices, multiple personalities, or schizophrenic episodes. No. The ‘voices’ that had brought about this mornings deep sadness were thoughts and concepts about who I really am. It’s the thought, “You are not great, nor will you ever be.” Did I actually hear it in those words? No. It was communicated very slowly to me and through many different sources.
It was communicated through a brother who gave me a good deal of constructive criticism on a project that I worked on. It was also spoken through the taunts of an opponent on the sports field. It was further spoken after an argument with my wife. That argument was this morning and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It really wasn’t a big deal but, she was having a hard time with the way that I was dealing with a situation and that was fine. We worked it out. But, afterwards, as we were lying together, my mind began to stray. Even now, I’m embarrassed that these thoughts would come into my head. But, I found myself thinking about how I try and control things. I felt guilty for this and began thinking about how I do the same thing at work. This little thought and the guilt associated with it led to a string of little memories in which I had somehow done something wrong (or at least perceived as wrong) in my relationships with others in my life. These thoughts came so subtly and without the prayer and thought that I’m putting in to this now, I would have only felt the repercussions, without identifying the source.
I’m sharing this because I think that we all have these interactions with one another that speak these attacks on our souls. They subltly bore their way into our heads and hearts and gather there, debilitating us and wounding us in ways that we don’t even notice. Could these be the fiery darts that are shot at us by Satan? I think that they are. And how are they quenched (Eph 6)? By Faith!
Only in Christ, is my greatness a reality. But, what of these thoughts that come. Well, as I knelt before the Lord, petitioning for help, I was reminded of the marks in His hands. I was reminded of the fact that I was crucified in Him. What of my failures? They were also crucified with Him. When I believed on Jesus for my salvation, I died with Him on that cross and all of my sins, shortcomings, weaknesses & failures died with Him. This doesn’t mean that I will never have those things, but, it does mean that I have been set free from them. My failures and weaknesses no longer defines me. I am defined by the death and resurrection of Christ and what He says about me.
The world speaks within you, “I’m a sinner, a screw up, a failure doomed to failure”, Christ says, “You’re forgiven, my strength makes up for your weakness, You are a child of God, and that is greatness!” My greatness is not derived from what I do. It is derived from who I am, and God is the only one who can decide who I am. I only need to agree with Him. Great things are done by great people. And there is nothing greater than being a child of God.
Jesus said (John 15:5) that when we abide in Him, we will bear much fruit. and apart from Him we can do nothing. This principle means that we are free from needing to be great to please God. Rather He accepts us in our weakness, gives us greatness undeserved, and then enables us to do great things. This is how we can have the strength to humbly do the menial tasks, and the lowly things. Our identity in Him is key.
I asked God to help me know what He was saying about me. I would challenge you to do the same and let Him speak to you. One thing I know, is that the greatness that He offers is not contingent on you earning anything or not screwing up. He offers grace and forgiveness and a covering for you. Those who look to Him are radiant and there faces shall never be covered with shame.
Thanks for reading!

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