Digging Deeper: Who Am I?

Do you know who you are? If you asked me this question a year ago, I most likely would have said “yes!” and given a list of things I like or stated something about my personality. All those things listed might be true, but this display of facts would only have given you a surface definition of who I am, and not gotten to the deeper meaning of the question. Recently, God has brought me to know myself better and thereby Him as well, through a discontentment which He has placed in my heart concerning how I spend my free time.

In the past few months, God has opened my eyes a lot and helped me better understand who I am at center. He has brought me to realize that if I want to understand the core of who I am, I need to dig deeper inside myself to find the answer. I need to peel away the layers of sinful thoughts and desires, down to that seed which God has planted in me. That seed of righteousness and true life, that new man. By the grace and strength given me by God, I have begun to understand what it means that I am a child of God.

Each of God’s children have certain sins which they struggle with every day. One of those struggles for me is how I use my free time. An example of free time would be after dinner when I have nothing planned for the evening. I have all this free time to fill before I go to sleep. During these times I would think things like: all I want to do is curl up and read a good book, watch a good movie, go on You Tube, play a game on my phone, etc. And yet when I do these things, there would be emptiness inside me. I’d find I wasn’t really content. One book would lead to another, after one movie there was sure to be another soon. One video lead to another and one quick look at Facebook lead to an hour. Why? Why was it never enough?

God works in mysterious ways. Through this battle going on inside myself, God has lead me to see a very vital part of what I need to acknowledge about myself if I am ever going to really know who I am. One video, one book, one game, one minute is never enough. Why? Because my old man will never be satisfied with just one. My sinful flesh will never reach a point when it is full and does not demand more and more wickedness. When I click on this which leads to that and then the next thing, watch movie after movie, I am feeding my sinful flesh. In order to see this I need to understand what it means that I have an old man and new man. There is a war going on inside of me every day. In Romans 7 God, through Paul, describes this battle inside the elect child of God. Verse 19 says “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”  My flesh says “Yes! I need to watch that new movie which just came out and everyone is talking about. It sounds so good. It will make me happy if I watch it! It is such an innocent story. It will teach me so much!” So I go and watch the movie. When I do fill my time with such things, I am dissatisfied and left feeling empty. The void I thought I was filling is left aching.  Why am I left so discontented?  Wasn’t that entertainment supposed to satisfy me?

It is important that I know who I am at center. When I peel away all the lies and deceits the devil has worked so hard to have me believe about what I need and what will make me feel better/ happy, when I look beyond all that, I see a little seed which God has instilled in me when He regenerated me. 1 John 3:8-10 says, “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning.” This would be the old man in me who wants to watch the sin filled movie. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” This new man in me is born of God and cannot sin. While I yet live on this earth I will sin because I have my old sinful nature, but when I die, I will be freed from that man of sin and I will worship and serve God perfectly. Yet, in this life, the command of God comes to me and all of Gods children, “Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;  As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (I Peter 1:13-16)

Who am I? By the grace of God, I am His child, who has a new man at center which does not sin. I strive to live out of my new man and put away the old. I no longer fill my time on earth feeding my fleshly desires. I do not indulge in the movies, concerts, and entertainments of this world, filling my mind with things of this earth. I will be as God calls me in 1 Peter 2:9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

Kate Doezema

 

Reflections on lawn mowing

I was just sitting outside enjoying the beautiful weather and my eye fell on the grossly overgrown lawn in the backyard. We have been getting tons and tons of rain in West Michigan over the last several weeks (including a pretty sizable storm last night complete with some of the loudest canon shot thunder one ever has the opportunity to hear), but this week the temperature has soared up to the mid-70s and the sun is wide out in the open blue sky. The result is a very rich and luxuriantly green grass, resplendently colorful daffodils and tulips popping out of their bulbs, and trees giving way to extraordinary flowers of white and pink (my wife and I just spotted a beauty on a jog this afternoon; the tree was as thick with white flowers as it will be with green leaves in a couple of months). What a wonderful God we have! A beautiful God who has produced a beautiful creation (out of nothing!) simply by the Word of his mouth. So foolish are the unrepentant proponents of the theory that dares suggest that mere chance and time gave way to such splendor.

But I had cause for another thought as I sat on the back porch enjoying the sunlight. As I mentioned, the grass is growing, and it is rich, green and beautiful. However, it needs to be cut and I am at the moment unable to achieve this result. My lawn mower is currently in the shop undergoing repair, a problem that wouldn’t exist if I had simply taken the time to get it fixed during the bitter cold months of winter when it was merely a useless chunk of steel taking up room in the garage. But I decided to procrastinate (as usual), so when I do finally get the mower back I will inevitably be induced to double or triple cut and then spend significant time blowing the clippings around to get that nice polished look of a finely manicured lawn. Don’t worry…for those of you who probably think I’m just a sap who is complaining about the relatively easy work I’ll have to do in a day or two, I do enjoy the work and am actually excited to finally get going. But as I thought about these things an idea for the blog began to emerge in my mind, so here goes.

Currently I have been reading Ecclesiastes in my own personal devotion (perhaps you now know where I am going with this thought). In chapter 2 of that book, after Solomon reflects on the vanity of seeking after the pleasures associated with such things as wine and laughter, we read:

4. I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards:

5. I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits:

6. I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees:

11. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

12. And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly: for what can the man do that cometh after the king? Even that which hath been already done.

Perhaps in the modern day we might add something like this: ‘I repaired my lawn mower and mowed the grass, but this also was vanity and vexation of spirit.’ Equipment is in constant need of maintenance, and anyone with a yard knows what it will look like a week after he mows.

There are a couple of things I want to say about this. First of all, I think all of us who like perfection (whether that be on a lawn, a house renovation, a paper for school, or what have you) need to be kept in check by the book of Ecclesiastes. Perfection in our daily work on the job or around the house is not wrong to strive for; do your best! Work hard! But recognize that in the end, whatever you do will eventually be undone. The creation does not cease from doing its utmost to become again the vast, desolate, overgrown, uncultivated wilderness (and thus, probably very beautiful in its own way!) that it was before we humans started plowing and building houses. The grass you cut will grow again. The flower bed you weed out will be completely weed-ridden in a week or two. The house you renovate will be outdated in a decade.

The second thing I want to say is related to the first thing. Because of the utter vanity of pretty much all of the work we do in this life, we need to relax a little. I know for certain that every paper I turned in at school could have been better. Many of us tinker around with this sort of thing for hours and hours, but rest assured that the perfect paper will never come. Now, I am not trying to encourage anyone to be lazy, but there does come a time when one must simply be content with what he has been able to accomplish (for me, deadlines make this a little bit easier!).

Finally, when considering the utter beauty of this creation, but also the complete futility of almost all of our labor therein, think about what the new heaven and new earth will be like. I am not suggesting that there will be no work in heaven. Surely there will be. All of our work will be to glorify God eternally. Therefore our work will no longer be vanity and our spirit will no longer be vexed. We shall be satisfied in everything that we do by the beauty and wonder of God himself in the person of Jesus Christ.

JH