I had to go on a personal retreat a little while ago because I found myself so frustrated and so angry that I was ready to give up. Not on myself, but on this new assignment that Jesus has set before me. I know that to whom much is given, much is also required, but sometimes I just wanted to be like a kid and "coast" on my laurels, y'know, the good deeds I'd already done, and not have to work out my own soul's salvation anymore. As always, The Holy Spirit gently chided me and encouraged me to just step back, come away for a while and take some time to spend with Him. So, I went on a fast, cutting off all communication, entertainment, food, water, everything until I had an answer to what was going on with me. The scripture above is only a little of what was revealed to me.
As we each embark on the paths laid out for us by GOD, we have to be mindful of the reasons we do certain things. Many motives are tainted by worldly desires, and because of this, so many of us have failed to recognize is that we're building our lives on shaky foundations. Every once in a while, we may heed the voice of The Lord and check ourselves and fix this or repair that, but as with so much in today's society, we're treating symptoms and not the problem. In order to truly follow after Christ and walk the path HE walked, we need to "perform necessary spiritual/mental/emotional surgery" and deal with the root of the problem, or we'll always be circling the same problem, coming back to the same starting point and eventually giving up on attaining the goal.
Before the surgery is performed, however, we have to take self-inventory, and really be truthful with ourselves about what is causing the reaction that leads us to self-destructive behavior, whatever the behavior. For example, self-pity doesn't just happen, something made a person feel so insecure that they retreat to a place of self-pity. Also, self-pity manifests itself in multiple ways, from the withdrawn wallflower to the whiny overachiever, always looking for someone else's approval. We have to make the correct diagnosis in order to perform the surgery, and there often is no quick fix. We have to be ready to unearth the tough memories, answer the uncomfortable questions and face the truth in order to move forward effectively. Sure, tears may be shed, but tears have an amazingly wonderful cleansing effect; they can make things so much clearer once they're shed.
Well, while The Lord and I communed, so much of what was causing my anguish came to the surface, but what was also revealed was that the outward efforts I was making were not going to do me any good until I make an effort to heal from the past. I know that I had held on to some things all because they made me feel "powerful," but that was so stupid, because all it made me become was bitter. I had to come to grips with my shortcomings and my flaws. I had to accept me for me, no matter how much I wanted to be something or someone else. GOD had given me to me as me for a specific purpose, and no matter how much I tried to change, the fundamentals would always be the same because that's just how HE made me. You know that saying, "No matter where you go, there you are?" Well, that about said it.
I was given certain gifts and I was given instructions on how to operate in those gifts, but my disobedience (partial, delayed, or total) caused a malfunction on the way. The malfunction snowballed and I found myself back where I started because GOD is not going to let me move forward until the step I was on was completed. I wanted to shine in areas that I liked and bury the ones I didn't like; not so. I had to complete every step, no matter how unpleasant or fearsome. I have to speak to people I hate, I have to minister to spirits I fear, I have to work with people with whom I would not normally associate, but they were all placed in my path for a purpose. I may not always know the purpose, but because all things work together for the good of them who love GOD, who are the called according to HIS purpose, I have to do it in order to move forward.
I can't make it through this battle without some scars, but there is a Balm in Gilead, and even Jesus rested while HE ministered to the multitudes. I have to do this thing from the inside out, not the outside in. I don't want to deliver a powerful message, but be all jacked up on the inside, aching from unhealed wounds because I failed to heed vital instructions.
I want to be a living testimony to someone, happily skipping down the street, not just wearing a smile on my face, but a smile on my soul as well because I am truly joyful. I am going to continue this cleansing process because it's how Jesus wants me. Holiness is what Jesus wants for me and because HE died for me to have it, I can do no less but to die to self and strive for that holiness. I must keep my face set like flint, my eyes on the goal set before me, being mindful at all times on things above.