When you reach “the end of yourself”, what does it mean?
To some, it means they are out of options. To some, it means they have nothing left to give. To others, it means they are suicidal.
For a believer who’s been chased by a loving God and repeatedly nudged to let go of all the ways they are holding on to their soiled way of things, this phrase means they’ve finally realized their limitations and need God more desperately than ever.
It means they relent and repent, because self can no longer operate without wholly relying on the Savior.
Do any of these ring true for you?
I’ve felt all of these, and more as I wrestled to make sense of pain and suffering.
When we have nothing left to give, in the ways of doing anymore for anyone else, an empty feeling can pervade. Yet, it’s not truly empty. In my experience, it’s accompanied by a feeling of soul deep heaviness. A pain which may come from loss, and loss comes in many forms. It can also be from injustices in the way we are treated by another person, either current or in the past. There may be anger covering the pain, or a sense of hopelessness. If either of these are left unaddressed, we live stuck.
You and I, we are cultivating a life well-lived so let’s not live stuck, ‘K?
This whole series is about learning to take active steps out of stuckness and into greater peace, joy, and freedom with Christ. His power is available to us, we just need to remember to walk in it.
One of the choices we can make is to give. When we feel there is nothing left to give and we are at the end of ourselves, it’s usually an indication that we are actually holding on to a whole lot of junk. We may hold on to hurt, unforgiveness, bitterness, pain, resentment, and negative thinking patterns. These add to heavy-hearted stuckness.
What if this is all we have to give? Our yuck. Our sin. Our brokenness.
We think we have nothing left to give when reality is, we have a lot of crap to give. (unpleasant word, for unpleasant truth). If we don't let God change our hearts, we'll sit in our filth like a child who's diaper needs to be changed. That's not living well.
We think we can, and should, only give God our best, but what if what we really need to give is our worst? Because our worst is the very messy, broken parts of us in need of his best.
We can choose to give these to the Lord. In doing so, we find ourselves freed of sins’ weight and safely held by a loving Creator. This might look like a desperate prayer of admittance to God, saying we no longer want this crap filling our hearts and minds. We want to give it to Him. We may not know how and we ask for help.
Sounds a little crazy, huh? Can you imagine handing over your putrid dung to a good and holy God?
As disgusting as this imagery may seem, we do this everyday when we attempt to give him our righteous deeds. They are still so far removed from his holiness that Jesus referred to them as filthy rags. Francis Chan says in “Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God” that the literal interpretation of filthy rags in Isaiah 64:6 is menstrual cloths.
So is our attempt to obtain the favor of God by righteous deeds. By trying to live perfectly rather than living out of his perfection.
“All our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” ~ Isaiah 64:6
If this be true, then it must also be true that God is no further disgusted by our giving him of the things which feel foul inside of us.
He can handle our tears, fears, anger, and every other emotion which tends to overtake us in destructive ways. In fact, he is the giver of these emotions and the one who represents them in perfection. He is the only who knows how to take our putrid trash and turn it into shining treasure.
Don’t let your junk fester inside of you. Know your redeemer is the only one who can take it all, asks for it all, and offers beauty in exchange.
That sounds even crazier, but it's true. "Here God, I'm a broken, stinky, mess." and God says, "I'll turn this into the sweetest thing."
He decided you were worth this when he took on the excruciating pain of the cross and bore the rejection of all mankind. The weight of our sins bore heavy upon him so we could live free of them. He knew our freedom would come through his immense suffering.
He took it anyway.
He already bore the repercussions of our sin and crud so if we don't choose to give it him, we're basically denying the validity and power of what he's already done.
Choose to give.
Give your painfully, smelly brokenness and let the fragrance of His goodness overwhelm you. No matter how crazy it may seem. Maybe, if this is all you have to give, it's just what Jesus is asking of you.
CULTIVATE: What is stinky in your heart today and needs to be given to God?