Have you ever walked on a dock with your phone, keys and wallet in your pocket? What do you instinctively do? Clutch the stuff that matters to you so you don’t lose it! This is a strange feeling if you consider the rationale. The contents of your pockets have (probably) never just jumped out and inexplicably ended up on the ground (or in this case in the water), and yet you are sure that this will be the one time that it happens. Laws of physics? Forget ’em!
Or how about when you are on a high building or up a mountain? You may not have a history of just randomly losing your balance and careening towards a precipice, but when you’re up high it’s a real possibility. More than just fearing that these things will happen, there seems to be some sort of magnetism drawing you to the real possibility that something can go terribly wrong. Sometimes the mind can’t handle the line between what we love and what we would feel if we lost it.
The point is, I think we are all a little self-destructive by nature (some of us are a lot self-destructive). I think that at the core this is a result of our sin nature. We inherently resist what is best for us. We just can’t help it.
This is a fact that is extremely frustrating. Example: There is no longer any need for medical science to prove that sugar is bad for you. Refined sugar is a toxin that the human body doesn’t actually need to survive. It does more harm than good. Does that stop me from eating cheesecake? Heck no! In fact, it makes me want to eat more. And since I ate too much cheesecake, now I really need to exercise. Again, no scientific proof is needed to convince me that this is necessary. But I resist it, preferring instead to do anything that involves…not moving. Same goes for everything from flossing to praying. I know I need it, but I just dig in those heels and bite my lip.
Why is this? Sin. When Adam and Eve made the choice to disobey God, the curse of sin entered into the creation. The same disease that led to their demise lives in us. No longer do we depend solely on God to give us all we need. We think we know best what’s best for ourselves. But we don’t.
This comes into sharpest relief for me in my time off. Sabbath is a struggle for me (another part of my “I know best” complex), not just because I stay pretty busy with tasks most of the time. The real struggle is not to stop working my “job” and do something else, but to actually choose the things that are good for me. Good things are life-giving. Bad things, well they just suck the life right out of you.
If you get to Monday morning feeling like you need another weekend, you know what I’m talking about. Sometimes we pack our days “off” with so many things that we end up losing instead of gaining. Instead of making new rules for ourselves (“Ok then, I won’t go do anything!”) there is a different way to get back where we need to be. The way is the gospel.
It begins with this simple admission that the gospel brings us to: I can’t do it. In a word: surrender.
I can’t choose what’s best for me because, left to my own devices, I will self-destruct. The good news? Jesus not only chose the best for me but is the opposite of me: He is, by nature, constructive rather than destructive. He makes all things new (Rev. 21:5). We live into the gospel when we live into Christ, who knows the best things for us and can restore our soul (Ps. 23). We have to stop striving and trust in him. Harder to do than say.
In Jesus’ redemptive work he reversed the curse of sin, meaning that the “I know better” disease can be defeated by a “He knows best” heart of faith. So the only work I have to do to overcome this tendency is to go to him to get what’s good for me. Abide in him, walk through the day with him. He is a good Father and gives good gifts (Luke 11, James 1:17).
The best times for me are times that God ordains, so the question of the ages is why do I keep running away, thinking I know what’s best? There are traces of the sin disease still in me, and only through a constant feeding on the Daily Bread do I have a chance to survive. Without it, I self-destruct.
What are some ways that you can go let Jesus show you what’s best?
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