Monday, August 21, 2006

Losing My Self

Hello new struggle. Please note it's a struggle, not a storm. God has once again pointed out a flaw in me and challenged me to a wrestling match. He has drawn a new line in the sand and said, "Danielle, it's time to move up here." Gulp.

You see, the scripture I received in my Inbox on Saturday was entitled "Self-Consciousness." It quoted one of my favorite scriptures, Matthew 11:28 - "Come unto me, all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest." But interestingly enough, it only stated, "Come unto me..."

Now my first thought was "I've already given my life to Christ. I accepted Him as my Savior on June 10, 1990 at a Campus Life/Youth for Christ Summer Camp in Ocean City, NJ. After nearly fifteen years of taking too many exit ramps off my spiritual highway, I was baptized by immersion on January 16, 2005 and began what has been a truly intense, spiritual "schooling," so to speak, for the past twenty months. I experienced the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as evidenced through the gift of tongues for the first time on February 20, 2006. Surely I have "Come unto (Him)," haven't I? So why was it that while I read this message, did I feel so unsettled? What was it that God was pointing out in me?

So, Sunday morning I came home from my paper route and the next part of the scripture was in my Inbox: ".... I will give you rest." Surely God is trying to show me something. For three days, I've been chewing this text, mulling it over. Finally some realizations about myself are becoming clear, or should I say "some realizations about my Self."

From "My Utmost For His Highest":
"God means us to live a fully-orbed life in Christ Jesus, but there are times when that life is attacked from the outside, and we tumble into a way of introspection which we thought had gone. Self-consciousness is the first thing that will upset the completeness of the life in God, and self-consciousness continually produces wrestling. Self-consciousness is not sin; it may be produced by a nervous temperament or by a sudden dumping down into new circumstances. It is never Gods will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in Him. Anything that disturbs rest in Him must be cured at once, and it is not cured by being ignored, but by coming to Jesus Christ. If we come to Him and ask Him to produce Christ-consciousness, He will always do it until we learn to abide in Him.

Never allow the dividing up of your life in Christ to remain without facing it. Beware of leakage, of the dividing up of your life by the influence of friends or of circumstances; beware of anything that is going to split up your oneness with Him and make you see yourself separately. Nothing is so important as to keep right spiritually. The great solution is the simple one - "Come unto Me." The depth of our reality, intellectually, morally and spiritually, is tested by these words. In every degree in which we are not real, we will dispute rather than come."

When we say we "Surrender All," do we really? Can we truly say our carnal or human side has no influence on our actions or thoughts simply because we've come to Christ?

I've been thinking about the fact that I'm at a place in my walk where I am no longer tempted to sin. I'm not saying I don't sin, but I don't miss seeking out and finding wild times, places and friends to make life exciting. I'm much more satisfied knowing God's by my side while I visit with friends and family and share God as much as possible. But I am still plagued by a sense that I am dualistic in nature - that there is a way I act when I am around Godly friends and another way I act around those who are not Godly.

I have a fullness from the love of Christ one minute, and will then catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. "When did I get so fat?" "Why are my arms so short?" "I wish I could do something with my hair." "Ewww! Look how straggly my eyebrows have become." "I hate my voice." "That last blog post was not one of my best."

Self-consciousness eats away at my spirituality and hinders my ability to serve. I used to love to sing for God. Now I don't even want to speak. For someone who has always wanted to preach, hating one's voice is quite a stumbling block.

More and more, I am realizing I have two writers in me - a spiritual writer and a carnal writer. When I feel full of praise, or maybe even woe, I write in a certain voice here. When I'm feeling cynical and wry, I post my poetry at another on-line journal location. These "voices" demonstrate to me that there is a stark contrast between my "Self" and me - child of God. This is very unsettling to me when I KNOW that God wants ALL of me. Nothing less.

The second part of the scripture, ".... and I will give you rest" was entitled "Completeness."

From "My Utmost For His Highest":
"Whenever anything begins to disintegrate your life with Jesus Christ, turn to Him at once and ask Him to establish rest. Never allow anything to remain which is making the dis-peace. Take every element of disintegration as something to wrestle against, and not to suffer. Say - 'Lord, prove Thy consciousness in me,' and self-consciousness will go and He will be all in all. Beware of allowing self-consciousness to continue because by slow degrees it will awaken self-pity, and self-pity is Satanic. 'Well, I am not understood; this is a thing they ought to apologize for; that is a point I really must have cleared up.' Leave others alone and ask the Lord to give you Christ-consciousness, and He will poise you until the completeness is absolute.

The complete life is the life of a child. When I am consciously conscious, there is something wrong. It is the sick man who knows what health is. The child of God is not conscious of the will of God because he is the will of God. When there has been the slightest deviation from the will of God, we begin to ask - What is Thy will? A child of God never prays to be conscious that God answers prayer, he is so restfully certain that God always does answer prayer.

If we try to overcome self-consciousness by any common-sense method, we will develop it tremendously. Jesus says, "Come unto Me and I will give you rest," i.e., Christ-consciousness will take the place of self-consciousness. Wherever Jesus comes He establishes rest, the rest of the perfection of activity that is never conscious of itself."

Self-pity. This is the end-result when I struggle to do it myself and forget to put God first. "My Utmost For His Highest" calls it Satanic. Ugh. Me? Satanic? I shudder when I think that I am putting my soul that far from God to be called Satanic. But yet, if it is not Godly, than the opposite must be - gulp- Satanic.

And this, dear friends, is like a flashing neon sign in front of a cheap motel that I keep passing time and again, because obviously I keep making a wrong turn somewhere and never progress forward in my spiritual journey. I am being much like my two-year-old, Zoe - throwing tantrums when I don't get my own way until I come to a place of self-pity and finally call on God to give me rest. And I imagine that God is standing there like a stern parent with His hands on his hips, saying, "That's all I was trying to give you in the first place!!!"

Self-consciousness is the opposite of Christ-consciousness! I cannot grow into what God wants me to be if I am so humanly aware that I pick myself apart so there is nothing left to grow.

To take a piece from Pastor Bond's sermon yesterday - good things do come from dirt. God will make me into something good if I would just step back and let HIM!

God can use a woman who is overweight with short arms, with straggly eyebrows, with crooked teeth, who needs a haircut. He can take her raspy voice and her nodule-covered vocal cords and not only bring beautiful songs from her lips but also powerful preaching of the Word of God!

Who am I (carnal self) to get in the way of what this child of God is to become???

Father God, I cannot be your true child if I'm too stubborn to let go of the human-natured, carnal-living, sinful Self. I have no right to let my Self hinder what you will have me be. My sense of Self must die, Lord, and make room for this child of God to grow - truly mature in the knowledge and Grace of you, Lord Jesus. I pray this prayer for me, Lord, and for all who need to come, are coming, or who are at this place right now in their walks with You, Lord Jesus. Your intention was always, and still is, to give us rest, Lord.

He still calls, "Come Unto Me."