A Tainted Love and The Sandwich of Trust

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The farther I traverse this life with my Savior, I find that He is so complex. So unfathomable. So brilliant. So indescribable. And yet as I get to know Him more and more, I become increasingly aware of how sinful I truly am.

Though I desire to know Jesus and pursue Christlikeness, I struggle with my own propensity to do things that break the heart of God. As Paul discusses in Romans 7:15 & 24, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…who will deliver me from this body of death?” Paul goes on to exclaim, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” in Romans 7:25, that we will be rescued in full from our sinful condition through Jesus Christ.

In this life, we will have trouble, as John 16:33 says, but Jesus reminds us that He has overcome the world. Therefore we can have peace.

There are days when I am confident with this peace that Jesus has overcome the world and that I stand before Him complete.

But there are other days when I’m so keenly aware of my sin.

And I feel so unfaithful. So unworthy. I find myself tempted or lured in by ideas, people, things or knowledge. Any moment of sin renders me shameful in the Lord’s presence. And I am tortured in bringing that before the Lord, both of us made aware of my unfaithfulness. Knowing I promise Him so much… and live up to so little.

I hate that I can’t maintain righteousness. I hate that I can’t remain faithful to Jesus. I want to reciprocate His love with integrity. I want to worship Him in purity of Spirit and truth. But I struggle to demonstrate that every day. Even in my greatest moments, my love and worship of God is tainted at best.

This reminds me of a song…a song that I’ve grown up hearing but never really understood completely. This song, ‘Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus, is really a very beautiful song but the verse where it says, “How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er” just doesn’t resonate with me. How can we prove Jesus over and over? I feel like I’ve failed him over and over. Not proved Him over and over. And the closer I get to Him the more I’m aware of this dilemma.

As I pore over God’s word wrestling with this idea of proving ourselves to God and loving Him faithfully, I find comfort in the psalms of David. The utterances of David’s heart are raw and transparent, revealing his emotions and confusions that accompany spiritual life. David truly loved God in the ways that are humanly possible, but he messed up just like anybody else does. He even stumbled into an adulterous affair leading to murder. Now that’s pretty wicked, most of us would argue (as if our sins can be measured.) But the Bible calls David “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22). I wonder why?

The psalms so clearly reveal David’s desire for God, which surely pleases the Lord and serves as a source of inspiration in our pursuit of the Almighty. But more particularly in Psalm 40, David displays a shift in focus that indicates his turning away from wallowing in his own sin to trusting in God. We can learn a lot from David’s response in this spiritual progression, or the “sandwich of trust,” as I like to call it.

David goes from trust → praise → shame → praise → trust.

Trusting in God, praising God for Who He is, recognizing his own wickedness and asking for God’s help, praising God once again, and choosing to trust in God despite his sinfulness and shame.

This progression in Psalm 40 is as follows: “I waited patiently for the Lord…He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God…my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me….Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me…But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in You…As for me, I am poor and needy…You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!” (emphasis mine; Psalm 40:1, 3,12, 13, 16, 17).

Trust and praise hem in David’s shame on every side.

David just never stopped praising God. And never stopped trusting Him. Because of David’s response, his shame didn’t stand a chance. Why? Because David admitted his sin, released it to God and then chose to praise Him despite it and trust in Him even in the wake of it.

I think this is why God loved David so much. David was honest about his sinfulness and always sought to acknowledge God in all things. David chose to receive God’s unconditional love for Him and because of that transaction was enabled to love God in a way that surpassed his human capacity to do so.

If we won’t let God hem us in on every side of our shame, we will fail to believe that He loves us when we sin. And problems will arise in our relationship with Christ. We will begin to believe the lie that we have to do x, y and z in order for God to not be mad at us anymore. Or we will think that we break His heart and that this cannot be undone. I have believed the latter many times over.

For me, the problem lies in relying on myself to hold my faith together. Or relying on myself to love God with all of my heart.

But really, it’s the other way around.

1 John 4:10 says, “This is real love – not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins” (emphasis mine). I will never be able to love Jesus the way that He deserves to be loved, at least not on this side of eternity. But because of His own purpose and plan, He has chosen to love me, and willfully does so even when I sin against Him. There is not a causal correlation between my performance and God’s love for me. It has never been about you or me deserving His love.

Therefore, it’s not up to me to love God so that my relationship with Christ will flourish. No, no.

It’s up to me to receive God’s love so that my soul will flourish, and then my view of Jesus will be elevated so that I can’t help but fall more in love with Him.

This is the key. And it should free our hearts knowing we are capable of love beyond what we have to offer through the Holy Spirit working within us.

Now I’m learning that God isn’t waiting for me to earn His love or to stop breaking His heart. He’s not mad at me for bringing my sins before Him time and time again. He’s not loathing my repetitious repentance. Nor does He need me to be righteous enough. He simply wants me to rest in the grace He provides for today and for tomorrow. He wants us to come to Him broken and teachable (Psalm 51:10&17). I’m so overwhelmed by the freedom this brings. Let this be a word for your heart today that sinks in and relieves the pressure of feeling like you have to prove yourself to God. God already knows us fully anyways.

Not only does 1 Corinthians 13:12 tell us that we are fully known and fully loved, but reminds us that one day we will get to know Jesus in the same way: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.” To be known for all and still loved is just unthinkable. It’s what we all desire.

It’s taken me a while to believe that if God is pleased with Jesus, He is also pleased with me. That I am hidden in Christ as it says in Colossians 3:3. That we are one with Christ and the Father as is says in John 17:22-23. Therefore, God sees you and I in the same way that he sees Jesus (Matthew 3:17, Corinthians 5:21, Colossians 1:22, Revelation 19:8).

Unknowingly I realize that the picture/diagram with this blog kind of looks like an eye. But maybe it can remind us that the way we look at shame has a direct impact on how we respond to God. If we look at sin and shame as a barrier between us and God that keeps us from His love, we will remain disheartened and in a negative place spiritually. But if we look at sin and shame for what it is, an assailant of God, and feel broken over it… it will lead us to repentance, then will return us to praise and trust in our God.

So despite my tainted love for God, I can experience the greater love of God as I praise and trust Him even in the midst of overwhelming shame. Turning our hearts towards Him in repentance is what He desires as it says in Joel 2:12-13. Then God can move in our hearts and change us into the image of Christ.

Why don’t we posture our hearts towards the Lord and let him love us despite the sin that causes our shame? And may it turn our hearts towards repentance, praise and thanksgiving to our God, learning to trust him every step of the way. For He is more than willing to forgive us. God desires to draw us closer to Himself.

 

“May He incline our hearts towards Him to walk in all His ways.”

-1 Kings 8:60-

 

Questions for Today:

  • When I sin, do I repent and let praise and trust hem in my shame on every side?
  • Why is it important that I receive God’s love for me instead of trying to love God on my own?
  • Why must I elevate my view of Jesus so that my soul will flourish?
  • What next step is Jesus asking me to take in my relationship with Him today?

Elevation Worship, “I Will Look Up”

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