Recently I was speaking with several women who are in an Oklahoma prison and one of them said “I’m so afraid. I just can’t get out and mess up again. I just can’t let down God.” She was honestly afraid she would fail. She was afraid to go back to the drugs or the sex or the . . . and I felt such a wave of compassion for her, because I remember having similar thoughts. But I now know how deceiving they are. Because they aren’t right thoughts, they don’t line up scripturally. The underlying motives were all about “Me! Me! Me!” Even when I would say I didn’t want to let down God, I was thinking about how I could serve Him, how I could help Him out. Like God needs my help.
God may still honor these thoughts and let some of them come to fruition, because He recognizes how little we know in our baby-Christianity, but it’s all about Him! That’s right, nothing is about me, it’s all about Him. It’s all about Him using this week vessel, me, to show His glory. That’s right – HIS GLORY! Not Michelle’s glory, His glory. That’s the crux – too often, we still want it to be about US!
Isaiah (64:5-6 Amplified) says “You meet and spare him who joyfully works righteousness (uprightness and justice), [earnestly] remembering You in Your ways. Behold, You were angry, for we sinned; we have long continued in our sins [prolonging Your anger]. And shall we be saved? For we have all become like one who is unclean [ceremonially, like a leper], and all our righteousness (our best deeds of rightness and justice) is like filthy rags or a polluted garment; we all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away [far from God’s favor, hurrying us toward destruction].” Compared to Him, compared to His glory, we are just pieces of dung, and our righteousness is non-existent.
But somehow, in His great and awesome plan, He wants to use us to show Himself strong. The Bible says, “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:27-31)
In other words, what glory my pitiful life may bring Him because He chooses to use me, it’s nothing compared to the majesty of God. I shouldn’t glory in me, but in Him in meColossians 1:26 says “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” I find it so overwhelming that God incarnate dwells in me, that I might bring Him glory. In fact I find it so overwhelming that every time I read that sentence tears come to my eyes. So I’m going to say it again. I find it so overwhelming that God incarnate dwells in me, that I might bring Him glory.
I am to glory in the Lord. Not in me, but in Him. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Cor. 12:9-10) Paul had his own thorn in the flesh, that Paul would give glory to God. No one knows what the thorn was, but it is obvious from scripture that Paul had it. God allows us to be weak, to be broken vessels, so that in our weakness it is obvious that it is Him-in-us that is causing our success. Nothing I do is good enough without Him. And when I allow Him to choose my path, everything is good.
One of the things that I have noticed is that when I begin to get proud, when I begin to think about what I have accomplished, God smacks me down and reminds me that it is Him and not me that did it. But when I give Him credit He lifts me up. It seems contrary to our human nature, but it is true. Sometimes we truly have to “let go and let God,” especially when it comes to our finite thinking in dealing with an infinite God. We have all heard the verse “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” (Rom 3:23). We need to keep reading further. “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.” (Rom. 3:24-27). That means that boasting and bragging about my accomplishments is sin – it is to be excluded – it is not having faith in God. Because when I have faith, I glory in what He has accomplished in me, a weak vessel. I am a very broken and cracked pot.
I remember my son-in-law saying that a person who was a far gone as I was didn’t usually come back and that I had restored his faith in humanity. I could have chosen to get puffed-up and vain, and maybe at one time I would have, but by this point in my Christian walk I know better. I admit it, I am afraid of being prideful. (Sometimes a dose of healthy fear is good). Hidden in 1 Timothy 3  is a short little nugget of truth “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” See – if we are lifted up in our own mind with pride we fall into the condemnation of the devil. I look back at all of my failures and every time I began to give me any credit God would begin to shake His head and show me that no, I was nothing and could do nothing. I now know that any success I might have in life has only happened because I serve a God of second chances who has chosen me out of darkness.
I remember wondering why God didn’t just go “Poof!” and take my drug addiction away. It is apparent to me today that one reason He didn’t is that I would have been proud of me. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (1 Jn. 2:15-17) I think one of the myriad reasons that He didn’t go “poof” is that I would have been proud of myself. Now, years later, I am proud of what He did in me. The difference is huge. I allowed Him to work, I didn’t do anything. And along the way, I grew to trust Him.