What is your image of God? I don’t mean what is your Bible class answer to the question about who God is. I mean in those moments when your subconscious is guiding your actions and reactions to what is going on around you, what is your image of God? How does He behave? How does He treat you? If you’re like me, it is not always a great image.
Satan is the Father of Lies (John 8:44). His master plan is to lie to us and get us to believe his lies. No doubt, some lies deal with issues of false doctrine. But that isn’t what I want us to consider in this series of posts. Rather, Satan sometimes realizes he can’t devour some Christians with doctrinal error. Instead, he tries something more insidious, something capable of knocking us completely off our spiritual feet. If we believe these lies, we will be taken captive and destroyed.
I received a heart-rending letter this week from a brother who is suffering the earthly consequences of his heinous sins. He had heard a sermon I preached entitled “We are Allowed to Love Ourselves.” You may remember the series on this very topic that I wrote on this blog. The brother wanted to know how he could ever forgive himself. Having committed some heinous sins myself, I want to know the same thing. What does it mean to forgive ourselves? Should we forgive ourselves? How can we?
I was humbled last night. I don’t know whether to make this post a family post because it had to do with my relationship with my kids or to make it about our individual spiritual lives because it taught me about my relationship with God. I’ll just tell you the story and let you draw your own conclusions.
I have to share a story I heard from my brother-in-law, Nathan Williams.
4 Servants Fell in a Pit
Four servants were walking through a field one day, when a sinkhole gave way and they fell into a deep pit.
As they came to their senses and assessed their situation, they began to confer about what to do. The first servant began to think about his hard life, his nagging wife, his pestering children. He thought about all the work he would have to do if he got out of that pit. He decided that he kind of liked it down there. He curled up by the dirt wall, pulled a rock under his head, and went to sleep.
The other three continued conferring.
The second servant began to think about what a great master he had. He knew the master would come looking for them and save them. He knew that since the master would take care of them, he could just sit there and wait. He leaned against the wall of the hole and waited.
The other two kept conferring.
The third servant looked at the wall of the pit and said. “We can do this. All we have to do is dig out some hand holds, grab hold of rocks and roots. I think we can dig and climb our way out of here. If nothing else, I think we can dig at these walls and build a ramp to get out.” This servant started digging and working hard.
The fourth servant new that was just impossible. The pit was too deep, the dirt too loose. They would never climb or dig their way out of that pit. All that would accomplish was pulling more dirt down on top of them. So he began to holler. “Master, Master. Save us. We are stuck in this hole. We can’t get out. Save us.”
A few moments later a rope was let down into the hole. The master said, “Grab the rope and I will pull you up.” The fourth servant, seeing his salvation, grabbed the rope and was pulled to safety.
The master flung the rope down again and said to the third servant, “Stop digging. Grab the rope and I’ll save you.” But the third servant said, “No, Master. Watch and see. I can dig and climb my way out of this pit. When I’m done, you’ll see what a wonderful and hard working servant I am. You’ll be so proud of me.”
The master spoke to the second servant. “Take the rope and I’ll save you.” But the second servant said, “No. You must not be my master. My master would just save me from this hole and ask nothing of me. I’ll wait here for my master.”
The master roused the first servant from his slumber and said, “Take the rope and I’ll save you.” But the first servant said, “Save me? Save me from what? I’m comfortable down here. No one expects much of me down here. No one is nagging me down here. The dirt is soft and comfortable. Even this rock for a pillow is not so bad. I am getting a little hungry, but I think that pain is worth it. I’ll just stay here. Your rope may be good for others, but I don’t need saving.” He went back to sleep.
To this day, the rope dangles in the hole waiting for those servants to trust their master’s strength to save them. There was much weeping in the master’s house for the three who remained in the pit. But there was also much rejoicing for the one servant who had been saved by the master.
Which servant are you?
How do Christians mirror these servants? You can add your input by clicking here?
(If you’ve stumbled across this post, let me explain where you are. You have landed smack in the middle of one of my favorite series ever. We started some time ago by learning that God expects us to love ourselves. Now, we’re going through the definition of love in I Corinthians 13:4-7 to help us understand how we can love ourselves in a healthy way so can love others better. Go back to that first post to read the series from the beginning and to find an index of all the posts available. Enjoy today’s post as well.)
Believe and Hope All Things
When we live in fear and self-hatred, the future looks dim and dark. We look ahead and see nothing but dismal failure. Why would anything good happen to us? We are pathetic and pitiful. We don’t love ourselves, we can’t imagine that anyone else could, even God. So why would good things ever happen to us. We can begin to rewrite even the blessings of the past to imagine that God has completely abandoned us. How much worse will this be if, as happens in life, some bad things really have happened to us. I can’t help but think of Job here. In the midst of his suffering, he couldn’t imagine a bright future at all.
In this state, we are certain that we are worthy of nothing good. Why then would God allow something good to happen to us or for us?Why would anyone else bestow much good on us? Why should we even seek anything good? We begin to catastrophize and awfullize our future. We play a video tape in our head that says everything is going to be bad. The very sad part about this is when we believe this, we live like it, and most often we cause the very things we fear.
As we wrap up this look at healthy love, we need to understand that God does love us. We are allowed to love ourselves. We are allowed to believe all things and hope all things. We are allowed to believe in our own worth. After all, God believes we are valuable. He thinks we are so important He has numbered our hairs. Not a single hair falls out that God doesn’t notice (cf. Luke 12:6-7). If God thinks we are that valuable, we can rest our own sense of worth in our relationship with Him.
We can look to the future and see good things. Matthew 7:7-11 explains that God does in fact want to bless us with good gifts. He refuses to give us serpents and stones. He wants to give us fish and bread. He wants us to have His great blessings. No, this doesn’t mean nothing we deem bad will ever happen to us. But it does mean that we know God will carry us through it all and use it all to bring us out on the other side. We know that because we love God and He loves us, He will use all things to bring about our ultimate good (Romans 8:28-30). We don’t have to view the “bad” things that happen to us as our lot in life or the limit of our coming experiences. Rather, we can see them as stepping stones that God will use to accomplish our own glorification.
You are God’s beloved child. He loves you. Love yourself. Then love others. Believe that good is coming. Hope for the best. Then pursue it by the grace of God who loves you.
God loves you. I love you. Why not let you love you.
I hope this series has been a blessing in your life. If so, please make sure to share it with others. Click one of the links in the “Share and Enjoy” section below to pass it on to your friends.
If you read this post and found it helpful, make sure to check out the whole series. You can start here.