Grace in My Disappointment

I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn, I can't make myself do right. I want to, but I can't. It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God's law with all my heart. But there is another law at work within me that is at war with my mind. This law wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 7: 18-25 (selected)

  • What is one disappointment you live with?

  • Can you describe a time you felt a deep desire to see God transform your life so you could become more of who God wants you to be?

These are a couple of the questions posed by John Ortberg in chapter one of his book, "The Life You've Always Wanted."

For me, the question is, when haven't I felt a desire to see God transform me into the person He wants me to be?? And therein lies the disappointment for me as well. I'm constantly disappointed in myself that I cannot seem to get any closer to becoming this imagined, desired person, even though I long for it constantly. Sure, I grow and stretch on the outside. My gifts and abilities develop, my opportunities flourish. The divine appointments flow in increasing measure (or at least I am more aware of them), I hear God speak to me more than ever, and I am challenged by profound books as well as believers in other countries who are continually facing persecution and hardships. And I think all of this should be having some profound bearing upon my inner person. There should be some marked forward growth and response to all that I see God doing and teaching me through these things.

But on the inside, I feel as if I stay stuck as the same fleshly, disappointing person. I feel like I have the same struggles, the same fears, the same defeating thoughts, the same selfishness, the same stupid over-reactions to people, and the same cold-hearted indifference that I've always struggled with. Sure they may leave for awhile, but they always come back. All of this makes me face the biggest disappointment yet: in this fallen, broken world, I will never fully be that person that God envisions me to be (and will make me into someday). And it makes me long for my new home where I will at last be free of my old self.

Before we pull out a hari kari sword on which to plunge, there is one great, comforting encouragement for me in all of this. I find that, in the middle of my disappointment and less-than-who-I'm-supposed-to-be-life, God loves and uses me in spite of myself. There's nothing I can do to earn or lose His approval and constant, anointing presence working in and through my life, as long as I stay repentant and connected to Him. There's also nothing I can do to convince myself I am worthy of this calling He has placed upon me, or to take any credit for it.

And therein lies the mystery of grace. My greatest disappointment also becomes my greatest encouragement. He will stay with me and use me for His own namesake, not because I deserve any of it.

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Posted in categories: Enlarging Faith | Snapshots from Julie's Life