The love of self can be a horribly powerful thing. Too many days lately, I feel like a spoiled toddler that just wants to know how all of this “good for you” stuff is really benefiting me. I mean, Daddy says that it will all work out for good in the end; that His plan is a good and hopeful one, perfect and purposeful. But I feel like the three year old that throws a bit of a dramatic temper tantrum, screaming, “But it doesn’t feel good!” When I put it into those words I feel ridiculous and ashamed. But in the moment I’m indulging in those selfish tendencies, I forget the silly nature of my claims. I feel fully justified in asking, “Why me?? Why now?? When do I get my turn??” I think that’s the crux of self; and how nasty it is. It’s full evidence that we are a fallen people in desperate need of a savior.
I’ve not had trouble remembering that God is faithful and that He has a plan. I believe that He is sovereign. But what I’ve struggled with, at least in the hard times, is believing that He has a good plan. I know it’s good overall, but I think that deep down I have this faulty belief that I’m just a cog in a big wheel – a little cog that might just be intended for an overall crappy life after all. Not that I’m too small for Him to notice me, but that I’m a suitable sacrifice for the greater good. A small loss, if you will, in the grand scheme of things. And in one respect, that’s true. This whole thing isn’t about us, it’s about a King and a Kingdom. But then I remember that I’m one of the people in that Kingdom that God created for His good pleasure. One of the people he’s crazy in love with and passionate about. One of the people He has sacrificed His own Son to claim.
While He doesn’t promise an easy life, He does promise that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. If I’m living under any other type of yoke and burden, it’s not the one He intends for me. He reminds us over and over again that His mercies are new every morning and that He longs to bring us joy. His joy, after all, is our strength. But self wants to preclude that joy. It wants to keep us in this horribly infectious bubble that eats away at our ability to give and to love and to serve. And I think that it’s those things that are a big part of the answer to the question, “How can I shake off this pity party of self?” As St. Francis of Assisi prayed,
“O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.”
Deep down I ache to walk in the freedom that comes from escaping self and consoling, understanding, loving, giving, and pardoning those that God so graciously places in my life.
God says, “Choose you this day whom you will serve.” Who will you serve today – your selfish nature or a great God in heaven that is aching to see you live in the freedom He died to secure for you? Some days it truly is a choice for me, but in the words of Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”