Occasionally I'll remember something that startles me, sort of like an "after the fact" scare. As in "I really thought that?" or "what was I thinking?" As is with most people, often this thought is tied to something I did or said in high school or the early years of my college. Let's call those the "Indestructable Years of Immortality", for that is how I inevitably viewed myself at that time.
What shocks me to this day, is how haughty, narcissistic and aggressively prideful I was in relation to others. (Galatians 5:17 "For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.")
Lying in some primordial stew of judgement, my "theology", "good" opinions and best of intentions, were my gifts and passions. Not that they were something anymore special or unique than the rest of the world's, but just that they were stagnant, atrophied.
God grew silent.
And for so long in my own abilities, reasoning, empowerment and selfishness I called them out, attempted to use them for whatever good I in my empty and volatile wisdom deemed worthy. Like in Greek mythology, I was man. Rebellious, strong, and a challenge to the gods.
Then something that crept up in my blind-spot leapt me from behind and threw me violently to the ground, pinning me and demanding submission. Over, and over, and over again. To my right and left I looked frantically, but still I was attacked. I was mortal.
Over, and over, and over--letter after phone call after job after friendship after relationship after family after God...life came at me. I wasn't submissive, patient, respectful, honest, compassionate, loving, mature, thorough, responsible...the list went on and on. These things I failed, these things I weren't...THERE'S NO WAY.
Yes way. I wasn't.
God began to whisper.
And still like the man in the doughnut shop with the glass front who knows he's being watched by hungry, eager eyes, I realized that it was only I who was limiting me. No other excuse, conjured reason however legitimate, or circumstance of any kind. And at the moment when I was the weakest, wounds open and bleeding profusely, a blurred figure moved from behind the glass where I'd been watched and stepped in front of me. He said "James."
(John 20:16 "Jesus said to her, 'Mary.' She turned to him and cried out in Aramaic, 'Rabboni!' which means Teacher.")
He said my name.
Who was this? Up until that moment, I didn't know who he was, but when he said my name, there was no turning back. "I will not let you live on the street. No, I have something better for you. Not better for the you I'm going to make you someday, not better for the you I want you to become, but better for you. Right now."
I found myself led in a direction I couldn't have dared to hope for, towards places I would never have believed could be mine if someone had told me. And I had been told, over and over, and over again, I just didn't believe it could be meant for me.
(John 8:47 "He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.")
I watched in awe as my future unfolded a day at a time. I was now no longer responsible for myself, for who I became, what it was I was supposed to be...all that was taken care of.
( 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!)
And so it began. I was to be so many things I could never have been on my own, can never be in my own strength, and more was required of me than I ever could have required of myself.
(Luke 6:37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.")
I was to be changed in so many ways I never desired, was frightened of, and I was to see who I was flipped upside-down and completely on it's head. Over, and over, and over again I took back what I'd made myself, glanced at it, then handed it to the one who saved me.
(Zechariah 3:4 "The angel said to those who were standing before him, "take off his filthy clothes." Then he said to Joshua, "see, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.")
Who I was supposed to be was so much more than I ever could have imagined. What was required of me was so much more challenging, so much more unattainable, and so much more the attractive for it.
(Philippians 1:9 "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-to the glory and praise of God.")
It was not just an adventure, it was the epic journey written about, studied, and lived by so many millions before me, but this time not them, me. I was to go on it myself.
That is where I stand.
(Isaiah 43:1 "But now, this is what the Lord says--he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: 'fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.")
What I walk on is a road that never ends with views that never cease. Still I fail, fall short, and am not who I need to be. But instead, my life is not my own. Shadows and shapes of what I once was and what threatens to distract me from the battles ahead dance on the walls, they're always in my vision when I look down. No longer are those flickering images me, no more do they taunt and guilt me, they're not mine.
I'm not mine.
Imperfect, fallen, guilty, and undesirable in every sense of the definition--I am a commissioned warrior. To a world so filled with suffering and hurts, wants and needs, pain and fleeting pleasure...I was fought for, and now I fight. Every day I stand alongside my Redeemer and loving Savior and I fight.
I am His.
(1 Timothy 1:17 "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.")