Thursday, August 7, 2008

Before the Fall

I have called myself a Christian, a sinner surrendered to the grace of the God, for almost seven years (I consider my spiritual birthday to be October 20, 2001). The challenges and struggles I have had in my walk with Christ in the interim are most likely similar to other people who gave their lives to Christ in their early teens and are now young adults. I wrote last fall about my (albeit low-key) struggles with self-worth and how I was learning to find my identity in Christ. Starting college started that particular journey, and after a year I know that I have made progress.

Another struggle common to Christians my age is pride and related struggles, overconfidence in our own skills and intellect, excess of ambition, and failure to trust God with our futures. Such is my topic for reflection in this post.

A note of explanation: recent events in my personal life, which I shall not detail here, have brought me to the revelation that I have failed miserably in the area of trusting God with my future. I have a natural talent for organization and planning, which is extremely beneficial in some of my engagements, but I have learned that it can be very harmful to myself and to others to attempt to plan my life and then assume that the plan is nonnegotiable. God knows precisely what the future holds, and He knows precisely the best path for me to take through the future. As my former senior pastor, Ray Pritchard, often said, “When you need to know, you’ll know.” The fact that I don’t know exactly what my future holds means that I don’t need to know right now.

Now consider ambition, skills, and intellect. All are neutral components of human beings. God has given us the ability to absorb knowledge and then use knowledge to draw conclusions. He has given us minds to intelligently use our bodies in a variety of activities and tasks, from the simple daily acts of eating and talking to the complex activities that form our vocations. The problem is that we forget the role of God behind everything, and we attempt to take control of our lives into our own hands. I do not believe that it is a sin to want to make quality, or even laudable, contributions to human knowledge and experience (one definition of ambition), but lacking a God-glorifying attitude can be very dangerous.

Satan works in more ways than one. He often directly tempts men and women to sin against God by hurting people, but just as often he takes good actions and tempts us to take the credit for the ingenuity, sacrifice, effort, or whatever else led to it. At this point, we are falling into the sin of pride.

I am sure that you have heard the phrase, “pride comes before the fall.” Actually, the phrase could also be, “pride came before the Fall.” Adam and Eve, too, failed to trust God to know what was best for them and to have everything under control. Rather, they tried to take their lives into their own hands, thought they had found a better way, and the rest is the history of a fallen world.

The solution, of course, is what the writer of Hebrews says: “fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith” (12:2a). He alone knows what is best for us, and the challenge is to surrender ourselves to Him. It is extraordinarily difficult, and I am not sure whether total surrender can be achieved in this life.

But that does not mean we should avoid starting the journey in this life. I have decided to adopt that reference from Hebrews as a personal mission statement for my life, at least for this coming school year. I will be sure to comment on this topic again in the spring.

This is Rubio, over and out.

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