At the end of my self-sufficiency is the place where Christ can finally begin. When I can stop, Christ begins. How often do I fail to live into this? Many of us claim that in Christ alone is our strength, to quote the worship song. But do others fail at remembering this as often as I do?
Failure and frustration and worries abound. Between fears of balancing work and play and the fatigue of an entire summer spent working 2 jobs and not doing enough rest. It’s easy for me to feel “not enough.” I’m “not enough” as a businessman, as a pastor, as a husband, as a father. I’ve been struggling with anxiety and fear, self doubt and frustration. Why does it feel like I’m not doing “good enough” in any one sphere of my life? Am I alone in these self doubts and fears?
This has been a theme in past weeks- until words of a friend come back to me. It’s Thursday at a coffee shop and he shares with me the same words from 1 John I had shared with him a few months back: 1 John 3:19-22: “We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if your heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.” Did you catch it? “God is greater than our heart.” God is greater than my worries. God is greater than my fears. God is greater than what I try to do on my own. This same scripture I offered up a few months back to a friend in need of more confidence, was repeated back to me at just the right time.
I’m back at the fishing Lodge now and yesterday was another “not enough” day. Needing a reminder, I head off for a walk for peace and restoration. I end up in the back of our 40 acres- in an empty patch of the forest off the beaten track of the nature trail. I follow the path under fallen spruce trees and through native grasses and I enter a stand of new growth alder. And then it hits me; I have entered a sanctuary. Away from all else that distracts, it’s just me and my Maker.
The sun streams down in ribbons between the stand of coastal alder trees. The smell of dew and fog hangs in the air like a sweet perfume. I stand here for a minute and blink- ‘how am I the only one to receive this gift?’ I feel myself letting go of that which is plaguing me as I pray to God. “God,” I pray, “You are greater.”
Amidst all the trees is one particularly of interest. ‘On a tree like this,’ the Spirit whispers in my ear, ‘is what I died for you on. So you don’t have to strive and worry and try to do it on your own. When you stop, I can finally begin.’
On a tree like this- the world changed. Because of the gift of Christ, we don’t have to pretend that we are strong enough and wise enough and perfect. Christ’s perfection, refined in His sacrifice and death and resurrection, is enough for me to hope on. I stay for a few minutes and feel myself becoming more centered.
The truth is, these are brief moments. We don’t live back there amidst the alder. We live in the real world of real worries and real obligations that are constantly pulling at us and telling us to be more, do more, accomplish more. And if you are anything like me, you might lose your bearings from time to time as you try to be “enough”.
As a reminder today, Christ taught me again that His worth is enough. On a tree like this…my life changed. I’m confident He did that for you too.