We have only to sit more continually at the foot of the cross to be less troubled with our doubts and woes. We have but to see His sorrows, and our sorrows we shall be ashamed to mention.” – C.H. Spurgeon
This morning I’m convicted by Charles Spurgeon’s writings as I’ve spent the last week or so wrestling in my heart and my mind about an issue we are having with the apartment complex we are living at. We’ve decided to take a position with a full-time leadership and discipleship ministry, which requires us to move and break our lease. Because of this, the complex wants to charge us over one thousand dollars as an early move-out penalty.
While this is difficult to swallow for anyone, I’ve really noticed my frugality coming through and it has been killing me. I find myself waking up thinking about it or briefly pausing throughout the day to dream up some circumstance where we wouldn’t owe the money. The real character barometer has been those moments when I catch myself conjuring up ways to cheat the system or retaliate against the apartment complex for their unwillingness to show grace.
I spoke with the company and fervently pleaded my case, sometimes with teary eyes, only to be defeated and told that there was no way to change the circumstances: I had signed the contract and I must pay the penalty.
Learning from my failures
This experience has brought me face-to-face with my idolatry of money. In the grand scheme of life, a thousand dollars is really not much. But to me, in this instance, it felt like the world was crashing down — and I realized that my view of money had become paramount to other virtues and I had momentarily lost my eternity-based perspective on life. True, I am called to be a steward of my resources, so there was legitimate pain there, but if I live with the perspective that Christ is King of all heavenly and earthly resources, then this situation should not have troubled me as it did.
I also learned from this experience that my encounter with grace has jaded me. The undeserved, and unending grace that has been shown to me by Christ has led me to expect similar grace from the world; and that simply is not going to happen. While God may freely bestow forgiveness and continual pursuit of a relationship with me, the world is still mastered by “the prince of the air” (Satan), which is constantly seeking my destruction and demise. Yet, what Satan intends for my downfall, God has redesigned for my sanctification and ultimately His glory. So while, the situation is frustrating and defeating, it opens my eyes to appreciate even more the grace of God.
My hunch is that the Holy Spirit is going to continue to teach me from this event, but for now, the last piece I want to share about my learnings is about faith. A very large part of me was hoping for a rescue of biblical-proportions. I kept picturing God fighting for Israel and the various ways that he led them into battle and fought for them; I saw moonlit images in my mind of the Israelite army encircling the enemy camp from the surrounding hills, shouting and hurling clay jars, only to watch the enemy, confused by the army of God, destroy themselves in a midnight massacre. I wanted to see God come through for me, and not have to even draw my sword.
So far, that hasn’t happened. And that’s difficult to take in. It challenges my faith and requires that I lean into Him even more and trust that He knows what is best. I am humbled and even feel defeated. But in my doubt and weakness, I hear the Lord’s voice beckoning me to draw near and rest in Him. His “rescue” may not look like I’d like it to. He may need to first rescue me from myself and my corrupted heart. And so in this moment of challenge, I surrender, yet again and raise the white flag to Him. Because, while my selfishness wants to take charge, the Holy Spirit reminds me that God is ultimately and eternally in control. He is the beginning and end and His plans will ALWAYS be better than mine.
“Lord, in this moment, help me come to the foot of Your cross and regain perspective. I want to meditate on the sacrifice You made and the endless grace You impart to me. Forgive my disbelief and my idolatry. Have Your way and have the glory, even if it causes me pain. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. You are my one true love. Thank you for this opportunity to know You and Your love more deeply. You are precious to me, my Lord. Thank you.”