Bible studies are a wild ride sometimes.
Monday morning, my reading was about Goodness as a component of the fruit of the Spirit. The writer did not pull any punches and her words went right to my heart.
God is not impressed by you.
Ok, so she may have written in the first person so that it didn't sound so aggressive, but that's how I copied it in my journal. She elaborated about her history as a people-pleasing, self-righteous young woman who thought her self-procured acts of righteousness earned her God's good graces and favor and how the truth of the matter was that she was focusing all her energies on producing "bad fruit" rather than abiding in the Spirit, who produces goodness.
I'm the kind of person who wants those accolades. I get all jacked up and tingly when people go on and on about how impressive it is that I do this, that or the other thing. So I work harder, try to be good all the time, looking for that next fix.
God is not impressed by me.
Talk about a wake-up call. When I read that, early that morning while I was still in the process of consuming the coffee that turns me into a functioning human, it really messed with me. In a good way, I suppose. Still, it shook me up. I've been over here dreaming big and making plans for a huge career move, writing and planning and building up the nerve to take a leap of faith. Do I have what it takes? Can I really do this? Do I even have anything special to offer that makes this possible?
God is not impressed.
Oh. Ok, great.
In a moment, all the cheering I had been doing for myself stopped and I thanked God for bringing me back down to earth, for reminding me that all my efforts are not going to impress him. Right about that moment is when I got it all twisted and started throwing myself a little pity party.
I called my husband and it all came spewing out of my mouth -
"Who the heck do I think I am?" I demanded. "Why did I ever think I could do something like this? I simply will NOT put my family's security at risk on a whim. I was a fool, a prideful, selfish, crazy fool. What I need to do is get my head out of the clouds and refocus on doing my job, supporting my family, and getting a better attitude about the whole thing. This blogging thing? It's a cute little hobby, sure. But turning it into a CAREER? No. That's for people much stronger, much more talented than me. God is not impressed by me."
Evan did a wonderful job of just letting me rant and get it all out before he began his rebuttal. He was quick to point out that my words were not what my precious Father would say about me. He was insistent that I was allowing the Enemy's lies to sound true. Would my God, who loves me and gave Himself for me, call me crazy, untalented, and foolish?
God may not be impressed by me, but he definitely loves me and wants what is best for me.
So I chilled out.
And the next day, I returned to the study on the next element of the fruit of the Spirit - Faithfulness.
The author wrote her study mainly from Hebrews 11, the "Hall of Faith," where very flawed human beings were used by a perfect God in ways they never could have imagined. Over and over again, the author tells the stories of people who followed God "by faith" despite their failings and doubts. I remembered Moses, who stood in the very presence of God Almighty and asked "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?" Or Sarah, who laughed in God's face when He promised her a child in her old age. The author of Hebrews writes about Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Isaac, David, and the countless others who through faith put one foot in front of the other and navigated the best they could around the cruel edges of the world, their hope firmly rooted in the promises of their God.
Diana, the author of the Bible study, reminded us that Jesus tells his disciples, the very ones who had a front row seat to his ministry and miracles, that it was not the size of their faith (or their accomplishments or qualifications) that mattered, but he instead compels them to turn their small faith into a lifetime of faithfulness.
I love how Diana summed up her point - "The fullness of God's purpose for each of us comes when our faith propels us to offer up our lives for the glory of the Kingdom. Not later, when we feel more qualified or can see just where he is leading us. Right now. Just as we are."
God is not impressed by me and my feeble efforts to be good or to increase my faith. But he is eager to fill up my brokenness with his grace, to take hold of my tiny grain of faith and grow it into something amazing for His glory.
I have no idea how this is going to turn out. I feel so very unqualified and unprepared. But my prayer is that I would hold on tight to that mustard seed of faith - a gift of God - and take those steps, relying instead on the power of the Spirit of God, whose remains in control, whose plan is better and who keeps His promises.