Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What's In It For Me?

The last two posts (not counting yesterday’s coffee break) have been heavy. I think that’s partly why I needed a break. All that business about dying to yourself—it’s kind of depressing, at least until you get past it to the peace part. So today I thought I’d climb up on a hill and look over all the humps in the road ahead and try to get a glimpse of the end of renewal. Yes, I know renewal won’t end in this life, but I need to know that things will get better, or at least that trudging along after renewal has its perks along the way.

I am a selfish person. I never do anything unless there’s SOMETHING in it for me. Even praying for the salvation of other people has a selfish motive. I love the rush I get when someone comes to know Jesus. It feels so good.

I’ve tried to fix this problem of selfishness, but so far I haven’t been able to. I’m sixty-two years old and I figure if it were fixable I’d have found the solution by now, so I’m about ready to give up. But this morning I woke up with a new, intriguing thought. Maybe selfishness is not always a bad thing. Maybe it comes from a good place and only becomes bad when it’s turned back on itself.

Maybe God wants to satisfy our “selfish” desires. I can’t think of anything He’s ever asked us to do that doesn’t have its reward. He says if we lose our lives we will find them, as if finding our lives is a great thing that He wants us to do. Maybe He wants joy for us more than we want it for ourselves. Maybe there is a good selfishness, and this deep longing in the pit of my soul is a part of that.

Remember how much God loved Jacob? One of the things He seemed to love was the grasping character of this funny little man. Jacob wanted something badly and he went after it. He went after all the wrong things in all the wrong ways, but underneath God may have seen a huge selfishness that pleased Him. Jacob’s grasping was like the cry of a hungry lamb for its mother’s milk, and in the end he took hold of God and would not let go until he’d gotten his selfish desire—God’s blessing.

I sense God’s great joy in seeing us grasp after Him. It’s like the joy on my son-in-law’s face as he wrestles on the floor with his little boy. He’s loving the closeness. The intimacy. The excuse for hugging.

I see that joy on God’s face as I write these words and it brings tears to my eyes. This is what’s in it for me.

Why do we have to experience the longing? Why can’t we just skip right over to the joy? I guess it’s because of the Fall. When Adam and Eve sinned, they gave our joy to the Devil and we’ve spent the last four or six thousand years struggling to get it back. In the end, Jesus died to get it back for us, because He loves us, and the joy is something He meant for us to have all along.

Sigh. That was a nice glimpse of the end of renewal. I think I’ll trudge back down the hill now and get on with the journey. Next post we'll continue the gruelling process, talking about the great chasm that often opens up between rededication and the actual work of putting it into practice.

P.S. My friend Camille http://www.camillecannon.blogspot.com/ posted a fun message yesterday, talking about a word contest from the Washington Post. You take any word and add or change one letter and give it a new definition. I created a new term, based on my experience yesterday. I told her I was blogged down in my writing. Cute, eh? Check out the article and try a word yourself. She’d love to have new vocabulary show up in her “comments.”

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