"The majority of us may be one step ahead of the world when it comes to purity, spiritual disciplines, knowledge of the scripture, and understanding the problems. But what if being one step ahead of the world is ten thousand steps behind where God desires to take us?"
-Eric and Leslie Ludy
Each time I reread those words something deep inside me groans and longs for more of the Lord! I don't want to stay where I am, I don't want to merely be "a step ahead," I want to be traversing on a path that brings me many steps closer and near my God!
I want holiness, I long for purity, I desire to be like Christ in everything. I want all that I am to be all that He has for me, because of all that He has done.
But I find a deep struggle in me. I can't quite figure it out, but it troubles me so. There is the battle of striving for holiness and throwing aside the ways of the selfish sinful man... and then seeing myself next to others.
What do I mean? When Holy Spirit lays a conviction on my life, I must follow it. When God reveals to me a way to live, I must live it. When Christ redeems me from selfish indulgences, I must run from it. But in the midst of all this changing, cultivating, and molding... I fall into the wickedness of comparing. But it doesn't start out as comparing... it starts out as I am utterly shocked and repulsed by any unholiness or even simply worldliness that is borderline impure. I cannot stand it. I hate it. I hate the things that are vulgar and vile in light of Christ's glory. I simply despise it and want to weep at the mere shame of it... to be in close vicinity of it wears down on my soul.
I want to run from it! But what happens when it is prevalent in my brothers and sisters in Christ?! Am I to rebuke and correct?-which might then makes me look holier than thou, or do I stop associating with them, or do I simply ignore it?
If I rebuke or correct, there is the problem of legalism, looking at the plank in my own eye, or being judgmental, and even someone assuming I'm trying to look better.
If I stop hanging around them, this makes questions arise and may make things uncomfortable, esp if I run into them everyyywhere.
If I ignore it I'm failing to live in holiness by being in the midst of unholiness and not caring, I am then unholy for not keeping the sacred things sacred.
I must be led of the Holy Spirit. Obviously the latter should never apply. But to know when to speak out, speak up, and be bold, or be gentle, whatever the situation calls for.
So I see it, I sense it, I am oppressed by it. Here I am running the race leaving behind the world, when I see others caught up in the world. A deep anguish settles in on me, I am longing for holiness, and in my brothers and sisters I see holey-ness. They have the same inheritance as me, the same grace, same blood shed, the same call to holiness, yet they carve a hole deep in them... the world is creating a vacuum sucking the very life out of them, covering promises of the Lord... they could have holiness and have sweeter intimacy with our dear Savior, yet they choose holey-ness, emptiness, and worldliness, instead of holiness and godliness.
Oh I want to weep! Why? How can you be a child of God, redeemed, yet living in the fallen world partaking in its pleasures?!
So I struggle. I am no better than they are. I am a broken and needy person... one who is only of any worth or value because Christ has saved me! But I long to live in holiness, I strive for it, I take out and forsake the passing pleasures of the world to dive into the deep, rich, and glorious pleasure of knowing God and making Him known!!
Oh that I would stay as far away from the pharasaic attitude and lie thinking I am better because of what I do!-it is not because of what I do that makes God love me, no!!!!-rather it is because of God's love that makes me do what I do!
And so I pray, Oh God! Dearest One of my being, keep me humble, or MAKE me humble! For what else can I pray? I hate all things impure and ungodly. I must hate what God hates. For His very Spirit is dwelling in me, and that which revolts Him, must revolt me... because He has given me not only His Spirit, but a completely radically new nature, His goodness, His holiness!! And when I start to think I'm pretty good for walking in holiness, I fall into unholiness! It is but by a humble and meek heart I can even keep on this path.
And when I am not humble, when I start to think too highly of myself, or anything... I pray for the Lord to humble me, even if it is by a means of humiliation... because I would rather that than live in pride... to be utterly humiliated terrifies me! I don't want to be torn down, but I pray for it because I long for God more than I do my own self worth. And I know He will fulfill my prayer when it needs to be... so I carefully and prayerfully examine my life and heart, asking the Lord to keep me in His ways! For that is the best way.
So what starts out as absolute brokenness seeing the unholiness people walk in, can easily turn to comparing. I can start to think, "Hey I'm doing pretty good!" Or even "At least I'm not as bad as her!" No!! I do not want this mentality. I do not want to compare holiness, no no no. I simply see my own heart as it is, long for holiness, be repulsed by unholiness... and live in awe and fear of my God.
And sometimes it's hard. I see how the Lord is beckoning me, He's calling me to travel the dusty old path, the path that is not much walked upon. Yet how can I refuse? When God draws me in I am hopelessly lost in His love and cannot fathom turning away from Him for the sake of mere turning. Psalm 42:7 "Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me" Deep is calling to deep, I just want Him to sweep over my life! He is calling me to deeper intimacy with Him, something richer, something simpler, something more beautiful and life giving than I could ever imagine!!! I long for this! And I am a thousand steps behind where He wants me, so I'll take the first steps of faith continually to draw near my Father's love. I want more, more, more! Oh how I long to adore him! To honor Him!
So everything in me is compelled to live holy because He is holy. Every fiber of my being yearns for holiness because I long for more of Christ, to be more like Him, to be caught up in His grace, to rest in His loving embrace.