IN THE PAST YEAR, I’ve enjoyed the unexpected privilege of being invited by various Christian organizations and churches to share my thoughts on how they should navigate impending uncertainties.
It goes without saying that my ego was pleased by all this attention — people were seeking out my opinions. I was finding a sense of self-worth and affirmation that my voice was being heard.
And it largely also brought me a sense of amusement to watch people wrestle with the different elements of tension in their lives. If they would just relax, step back to look at the bigger picture, and trust that God would see them through it all, things would be much, much easier!
Yet, as I sat on the couch of my spiritual director’s home, I realized that my own life was full of these same contradictions.
Here I was, dishing out advice and sound words to those dealing with uncertainty in their ministries, while my own life was filled with deep turmoil.
I was in the middle of deciding whether I should move out of the three-bedroom condominium where I’d lived for the past six years, to downsize to a studio apartment. I was debating whether I should leave the church I’d been part of for the last 10 years to join an experimental, alternative worship service. I was wracking my brain on how to grow INHERITANCE into something closer to our vision of discussing cultural issues, while wanting to be a good steward of our finances and donations.
What will I do with all of the things I had accumulated over the years? Do I have to start all over in finding my support group and community? Oh God, is that really what it takes to follow this vision You’ve given us?
Where were the tidbits of wisdom I had been so generous in handing out to others? Was any of it good if I couldn’t even apply it to myself?
The Psalms are also full of these contradictions. In Psalm 139, the psalmist boldly proclaims that God knows every intimate detail of our lives, from our secret thoughts to the words we haven’t even spoken yet.
This assurance in a relationship with God, however, quickly changes into disdain and self-righteousness. Slay the wicked! Destroy those who misuse Your name! I hate those who attack the Lord!
But suddenly, there is a revelation, an epiphany, that the psalmist himself can also be accused of rebelling against God. Search me, God, and look at my heart. Put me to the test and know my anxious thoughts!
Search me, God, and look at my heart. Put me to the test and know my anxious thoughts!
In this issue, we look at how easy it is to point fingers, to tell others the best way to live their lives. Yet too often, we fail to examine ourselves, to see the wrong in our own lives. Perhaps we fear that if we look too closely at our own hearts, we would see much more hypocrisy than we dare to accuse others of. Perhaps if we looked closer, we would see that these issues are quickly gaining ground in our lives.
Search us, oh God. Look to see if there are any offensive or idolatrous ways in us, and lead us in the way everlasting!