God is not human, that he should lie,
not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
Does he promise and not fulfill?
-- Numbers 23:19
Rinse and repeat?
For too many people, life has become an extended game of playground freeze tag. There they stand, scattered around like trees in winter, fixed and flash-frozen either as they have been proclaimed to be by someone more righteous, or as they in their brokenness project themselves to be, perhaps in a state of readiness to run at the first approach . . . or in a hopeful pose that someone will choose to touch them in some way that releases them to natural form . . . a who-I-really-am state of being . . . whoever that is.
Others, projecting more self-acceptance, or perhaps just more comfortable in the role of pronouncing revelation, run with pointed finger, choosing who they wish to release or freeze, armed with words that can deepen the coldness of the perplexed heart or thaw it and make it brave to beat again. In this perpetual game, the fearful struggler is frozen and observant one moment, as the world goes on, like cars zipping by on the road outside the playground fence . . . and then in the next moment, he is free to run screaming. arms outstretched, in hopes of finding home before someone comes along and tags him with that ever-pointing finger and he becomes immobile once again.
In the unkindness of human kindness, we take a person in search of self and still that search, defining him to be this or that, refusing to allow him the privilege of discovering the new creationism we all are promised. Often gilding our own words and resolutions with the lightest coat of truth and the slightest brush of grace, we say things "for their own good" that make us feel good and we take pride as their frenzied spin spirals slowly into paralysis. Voiceless and spirit-quenched, they listen and watch and hear and wait. They fear to move.
Is truth so feeble that we must bolster it with our insight?
I have lived long enough now to have traveled through layers of definition, tempered by moments of self-revelation, dashed by efforts to re-define to please others, passing through the times of fleeing, running, hiding and into seeking, turning and emerging anew, though cautious and under-trusting.
Who are you? Or perhaps, who were you when you knew who you were? Back before you knew too much and heard too much and did too much and became all twisted up by the too much of living? Back before someone sat you down, or turned you down or stared you down or took you down or put you down and took the blessed image of God you are and told you who you "really" are.
Can you remember?
When God was busy wonderfully-knitting, He did not let His needles slip when He came to you. Isn't it comforting to know, when you are stuttering around trying to tell others who you are that Someone already knows . . . and sees . . . and says you are wonderful? In truth, what we become is often a far cry from what we were . . . but knowing what we were gives us hope again in what we can become again.
You are wonderful.
You are valuable.
You are courageous.
You are beautiful.
You are wanted.
You are redeemed.
You are loved.
You are forgiven.
You are welcomed.
You are saved.
Remember who you are.
When the world . . . or one of the world's ambassadors . . . makes you see yourself as judged, ridiculed, mocked, hated, rejected, reviled, unforgiven . . . then remember who you are.
And remember that "are" is present tense. Don't twist it and say I was wonderful, was valuable, was courageous, was beautiful, was wanted, was redeemed, was loved, was forgiven, was welcomed, was saved.
You . . . are.
Granted, people who struggle with addictive sins are other things also: fallen, sinful, hurt, deceived, tempted, broken, wandering and separated, straddling tenses like fences. I was . . . I am . . . I will be. I could be. I should be. I can't be. There's nothing like being lost in the fog of finding yourself.
Remember. Who you are.
What you are not is the worst sinner that ever walked upon the face of the earth. What you are not is someone unworthy of grace. What you are not is someone too far from the embrace of God's love. What you are not is someone for whom the Savior did not die. What you are not is someone who cannot be changed by God. What you are not is someone who cannot be used by God, despite yourself and your past decisions.
I can see now that, as I struggled with my own sexual brokenness and then the revelation of it and the reviling that followed, the words that really impacted me were the words that were untrue, probably because I felt I deserved them. The undeserved words are the ones that hurt the most at first, and then, when we have become accustomed to hearing bad things about ourselves, the words that are true and possibly constructive fall like hollow shell-casings to the ground. We absorb the impact of the bullets somehow and move on, either determined to prove our attackers wrong . . . or determined to prove ourselves invincible, embracing some new identity that might allow us to survive.
As time has passed, I have come to know and admire the men and women who struggle against sin, even in the midst of the off-with-your-head cries that come from those who have set aside the command to love and instead embrace a personal theology of correction-or-rejection.
When we sit in stillness and see our sins without filters and admit the weight that wears us down and the strife that tears us up, we have a choice. We can accept what the righteous around us -- those who are denying their own sins while they work on ours -- say about us. Or, we can find some counterfeit comfort in what culture says about us. Or . . . we can remember what God says about us. The choice we make will either leave us writhing in sorrow-filled rejection, rushing into temporary relief, or onto the path of redemption. The first two choices are circular paths that wind down to nothingness; the third is never-ending gain. The prize is clearly behind Door Number Three.
Brave ones . . . take heart that God has given you, in your heart, the desire for freedom. And take heart that He said He will give you the desires of your heart . . . if you delight in Him. And God is not human; He does not lie.
I wish I could tell you that one of these days your temptations will subside to nothing more than memories and that your stumbling will cease, but I don't know.
The words at the top of this post seemed to be placed in contrast, as if run, flee and hide were bad and seek, turn and emerge were good. But, as we know from the lives we have, do and will lead, how words perceived is often determined by our present condition.
Run . . . to Him.
Flee . . . to Him.
Hide . . . in Him.
Seek . . . Him.
Turn . . . to Him.
Emerge . . . as who you are in Him.
Remember who you are.
You are His.