I turned 38 years old last week. It was a sweet celebration. I had my favorite for dinner: steak, sweet potatoes, and asparagus. There was also a humongous chocolate cake that I made myself, although the recipe is not mine. A sweet friend from church shared it with me since I basically ate an entire 9 in. x 13 in. cake pan when they brought us dinner after Dany was born 😬
So I finally finished reading my commentary on the book of Ephesians, and I began reading the book of Colossians. I have always wanted to study Colossians deeper as I’ve heard it talks about the supremacy of Christ. My commentary is on the way, but this morning I read this from Colossians 1:9-14,
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
As I shared in my last post, I have been reading You Who, by Rachel Jankovic. I cannot say I did not know what she has been talking about throughout the whole book. I did know. I am terrible at remembering my Savior, though. I sin when I forget whom do I belong to. I was thinking about this two days after my birthday:
“Will there be a day in which I won’t feel the temptation of wanting to be enough APART from Christ?”
I know I am nothing without Him. I know my identity is in Him. I know every breath is a mercy coming from Him. I know – in my head. And then I forget. I don’t forget to the point of going backwards five years in my life, say, like when I began Christian counseling; there are days, however, where the feelings don’t match what I read in the Scriptures. And that’s where the fight is, right? At least for me. It really takes the work of the Holy Spirit to bring life into my heart to help me see Christ every day in the text. It takes the Holy Spirit to make me die to self every single morning as I start my day.
The chapter Turn to Christ is by far my favorite because she talks about the sun and the moon. It rocked my world!
Being oriented to Christ and to the glory of God is in fact the answer to almost every human trouble. The fact that it is almost always the correct answer is NOT the same thing as being the answer we always want to hear. The phrase “Turn to Christ” is a well-trod path in Christian encouragement. You have probably heard it before, and here I am saying it all over again. If you are struggling in your life, this kind of advice might make you feel like you are being dismissed.
Do you feel lonely? Turn to Christ.
Do you feel like you are laboring under burdens that are destroying you? Turn to Christ.
Do you feel the deep need to know and be known? Turn to Christ.
Do you wonder where the time is going and why anything matters? Turn to Christ
Ain’t this the truth? Turning to Christ is the obvious answer, but she is right, sometimes I don’t want to hear that. Maybe in all my ramblings, I hope, you can see that I am a selfish individual in desperate need of God’s saving grace. It has never been my intention to present myself as anything else. This chapter was awesome to read. It exposed my sin clearly. I was like, “WOW… somebody finally put into words what I feel when everything in me wants to yell like Pam.”
Mostly, this is how the inside of me feels when I struggle. And I almost never have time to sit down right then, and think why I feel the way I feel, and deal with it quickly. If I let it go for a long time, it just starts piling up, piling up, piling up, and then BOOM!
I learned to do that in counseling. It wasn’t like the counselor would teach me how to think, she would just basically ask me questions, and I would ramble for an hour and cry. It takes time and prayer to deal with my feelings. By prayer, I don’t mean hearing the voice of God telling me what’s wrong. I mean I actually ask God to help me deal with my feelings as I read His Word. It has been His Word and seeing Him there, seeing Christ there, what has healed my once-broken heart. But it does take time for me to process why I feel the way I feel at times. There is always sin involved.
Like the other day, my husband and I argued for a whole day. I was so upset. It was so stupid in the end. He was so kind in listening to me trying to put two sentences together without me getting angry or overwhelmed. Then the children would come and interrupt, or it was time to cook, or the baby would cry… It all ended up being that I wanted romance in our marriage. And when he said it, it took him two seconds. He said, “Karla, I know what you want. You want romance.”
I was like, “Why didn’t you say that five hours ago!? It would have taken us five minutes to deal with this issue, and not the whole day.” But he was so sweet and said he wanted to hear me, to hear how I felt, and telling me what he already knew was not gonna help. He is really patient with me.
I know that for many of you this admonition would make you think something like this: “Yes, yes, I see Christ. But what about this mess here? I’m talking about this mess in my life, I am not talking about Him! I know He is perfect, I just can’t figure out how that is supposed to help me right now! I want to be known because I want a husband, not because I don’t know about Christ. I want to be free of the guilt and shame of my weight problem because I want to be attractive, and I don’t see how looking to Christ will magically make me more appealing! I want someone to tell me that I matter to them and that I am important, not read the words of Christ because He says those things to everyone. I want something more than that. Stop telling me to look to Christ because I already know about Him and I’m still here having this problem!”
Talk about some honesty here! I had not seen that level of honesty in a book – ever. I have felt like that. That’s the kind of thing that got me into counseling. I was manipulating my children, my husband, and all my relationships were very codependent (which is secular jargon for idolatrous). I wanted worship – that was it. Of course, I would have never said that, I don’t even think I knew what was happening to me at that moment. All I knew was that I was in a lot of pain.
The deeper I dived into my Bible, the deeper the conviction grew. It was almost as if God were performing heart surgery. The pain grew deeper in a way. I wanted my husband to love me, and give me all his attention. I wanted all his time. I wanted to feel – to be – beautiful, but then I didn’t. I would go around in circles, worrying about things, grumbling, not being happy. My family never talked about anything – everything was stuffed down. Am I making sense? If I ever felt angry or sad or whatever, I never learned to put a name to those emotions and deal with them accordingly, let alone doing so from a biblical perspective.
Like say, anger. Anger happens, but anger can be sinful. So there’s a way to express your anger, deal with your anger and actually, repent from your anger. The same with sadness. The more and the longer I read my Bible, I saw Him. I saw Christ as beautiful. Everything that I ever wanted, He was giving it to me, and I was rejecting Him because I wanted those things from Emerson, not from Christ. Like, Christ was good and all, but I wanted to feel loved, deeply loved by my husband. Appreciated. Seen. Heard. Valued. And those things are not wrong, but there’s a fine line in which those desires can turn into idolatry. I crossed that line and Emerson, my children and other people were sitting on the throne of my heart – not Christ.
It was sinful to demand this from my husband. It was evil of me to manipulate the relationship in order to get those things, you know, like when you play victim? Plus It was actually unfair. I was putting on my husband the burden of carrying my heart, my troubles, my pain, when the man was not even able. Emerson is a great man, but He is not Jesus. Emerson is not supposed to satisfy my every single need or fulfill me – God is.
Anyway, this is not a counseling session, and of course, I don’t expect you to relate to me. I am just here thinking no one gets to write a book and nail those feelings perfectly just randomly. This woman, Rachel, has to have experienced those herself. And I am thankful she is better at writing them down, and doesn’t ramble like me LOL! I am thankful she point us to Christ. This book has definitely done that for me. So…
This is when she talks about the moon,
This reveals something that is wrong in our thinking. Jesus Christ is not a glorious mountain that makes up part of the scenery of our life. Looking at Him in the distance as though He was an immobile and indifferent thing is part of the problem. We think we are looking to Christ when what we are doing is simply being aware of His existence.
Imagine that the moon was having a hard time. Imagine it crying to itself, saying, “I don’t know what to do anymore! I don’t feel useful. I don’t feel beautiful. I just sit here in the darkness all the time with no purpose, no goals, no identity. I feel useless, adrift. No one cares about me or wants me to be anything special.”
What if someone could say to the moon, “Look to the sun! Just do what you were made for! Reflect the glory! Look to the sun while you go on your journey and your face will be bright! You are beautiful when you are oriented to the sun. You are purposeful when you are oriented to the sun. You are needed when you are oriented to the sun. You were made to be oriented to the sun!”
Now imagine the moon saying something like, “Oh, that? That seems sort of unrelated. Why would that help me? What does that have to do with anything? I mean, I know it is there, but it has always been there. It doesn’t have anything to do with the way I am feeling right now. It just seems like pointless platitudes. It doesn’t really feel like you are listening to me.”
On a fundamental level, we were created in order to do this. This is our purpose. This is our calling. Whenever we are feeling lost and adrift and without purpose or goals or people who want us, we are in the middle of not doing our most fundamental job of looking to Christ. We don’t look to Him like we are looking at a poster of a faraway place. We do not look to Him like He is a piece of information in a textbook. We do not look at Him like we look at an old family snapshot, remembering a good time. We look to Him as we were created to look at Him—in an interactive, glorifying relationship. We reflect His glory. This metaphor of the moon and the sun is a biblically accurate metaphor for our relationship to Christ.
After reading that, I literally thought, “I’m an idiot.” 🤦♀️
I knew this. I knew this. And yet this was so clear. I seriously praised the Lord for His mercy in letting me see it yet again. All my issues always come when I start trying to reflect my own light. Can people reflect light? Of course they can. But when they try to reflect their own light, they end up being burned down. It is pretty exhausting.
Am I pretty enough?
Am I good enough?
Am I smart enough?
Am I thin enough?
Like, good enough for WHAT?!
I was talking to my son the other day. He was boasting about being better than his sister at playing this typing game they play. He didn’t come to me to share how much he liked the game, his intent was to tell me he was much better than her. I hate that. I don’t encourage that. I said, “Wait a minute. Can you actually type like she does? Because she is pretty good at it. I mean, she basically typed a whole chapter of my book faster than I could. Can you actually type?”
Of course he said no. I knew this. That was my way to poke at his heart.
So then we talked about his bragging, and how sinful the attitude in his heart was. He was boasting at being better at a game than his sister. I explained to him that I enjoy him playing that typing game, but that really, the whole point of those games is to improve his typing. If his typing is not really improving, then I don’t care how good he is at playing it. He has to actually finish his typing lessons, just like his sister did. I told him it was not my intention to hurt his feelings, but he needed to know that he was being proud, and being proud was an abomination to the Lord. We also looked at some Scriptures that literally said that. I was already feeling I was preaching to myself. God does that often when you are a parent.
Poor guy, he probably was just sharing with me, or maybe he wasn’t; it is those moments that I often use to disciple them. We talked about comparing oneself to others and how that is a terrible and dangerous game to play. If he is better than his sister at something, then he would be feeling better about himself, right? But when his sister is better than him at other things, then he gets depressed. I know my son. He is a mini me – physically and emotionally.
He actually said the other day that he felt like a lousy worm in the dirt (or something like that) when he does Math. Lots of drama, you see. This boy of mine needs to be confronted with the attitudes in his heart often.
And I do exactly the same thing!! Because deep down, hear me out… if I were actually better than other people, and I could be sure I am, or if at least I were satisfied where I am without comparing myself to others, then I would be content. We would be content in general. We would say that we are good at this or good at that. Nothing wrong with that, I talked about this in my last post. It is not sinful to recognize what God has done through you as long as you don’t glorify an earthly vessel.
Of course, I would never say I am much better than someone else at something. I know better, I know that sometimes that doesn’t look good on the outside, especially if I say it in order to feel better about myself. If I were actually better than others, and I knew it, I would be happy. We are always happy when we play the comparison game, and we end up being the better ones. Are we not?
But here’s the thing. Sometimes we don’t know if we are better, or we are not sure, and so, what do we do? We start asking questions, but we don’t ask direct questions like, “Am I more beautiful than my friend Sally?” or “Am I smart enough to finish a Science degree?” or “Am I fit enough to carry another pregnancy?” or “Am I a better mom than my neighbor?”
And what is the purpose of these questions anyway? Again, this is my way of processing things. Take no offense at this. I hope it does expose your idols if you have them.
My purpose when I begin the loophole of comparing myself to others and wondering whether I am good enough, or better than, is always that I, somehow, feel empty. Like Rachel said, “Whenever we are feeling lost and adrift and without purpose or goals or people who want us, we are in the middle of not doing our most fundamental job of looking to Christ.”
I look at other people to validate me. I look at other things to make me happy. I want to shine. I want to feel loved and appreciated and heard. And all those things are valid, but I will never shine the way I am supposed to shine as long as I keep trying to shine for my own sake, or for the sake of those things. I only shine my best when I shine for the sake of my Maker. When I am on the losing end in the comparison game, and I’m often there, life gets really blue. When I look at my husband and his reasoning skills, and his way of being organized, and his self-discipline, and his efficiency when he talks, and how focused he can be – basically he is everything that I am naturally not… Boy, when I look at him, I can get depressed so quickly. So quickly.
But I must not look up to other people to be my sun. I have a Sun, and it is Christ. When I try to shine and reflect the light of others, as if they were my sun; or when I try to be the sun of others, and make their lives revolve around me; or when I try to be my own sun, and get so focused on the self… Whenever I do any of that I am nothing but a thief. I am trying to steal the light from the One who owns the light. In reality I am nothing but a dark satellite with no light coming from me at all. When I bring myself up because I’m amazing at something, or when I bring myself down, and throw pity parties because my performance sucks; when I do all those things, I am opposing God by trying to steal the glory that rightfully belongs to only Him.
I mean, isn’t that what Satan did? He didn’t want to reflect the light. He wanted to BE the light. Satan was not perfectly content with being a beautiful satellite reflecting the light of the Sun. Satan wanted to be THE Sun, and that was precisely his downfall.
So I had this conversation with my son. I mean, not like that, but very similar. How gracious of God to give me, a sinner, the joy and the huge responsibility to raise little sinners. I had empathy. I actually talked to him about some of my struggles. The latest one being the use of make up because I woke up the other day and I saw in the mirror that I’m getting old. It was fun watching videos on how to apply it and what not, but at the end of the day, the dark circles and the wrinkles around my eyes are still there.
I shared with Enzo that deep in my heart sometimes I would like to be young again. I shared that the skin around my belly is not as firm as it once was, and everything is hanging low, and that very likely, it will continue to drop. And I have dark circles, and I want to look beautiful and vibrant, and he was laughing!
In the middle of my confessions, he actually said,
You see, my intention was to point him to Christ, not to his own abilities at the video game. I encouraged him to look to Christ if he doesn’t want to be carried away trying to be good at doing life on his own strength. He needs to practice typing, and also work hard at it; he can also be content if he is good at the game or at actual typing, but he should not boast about his abilities. He should rather praise God for them. How much of that talk actually made it into his heart? I don’t know. I pray a lot of it did.
It is always pride, isn’t it? Sometimes it masquerades as false humility when we try to put ourselves down or when we obsessively think about ourselves, and how we are not good enough this, or not good enough that. That’s the issue. Is culture trying to encourage our relationship with the One True God? No, culture always points us to ourselves. We are not the answer, though.
So here’s my mini-commentary of what I have thought about Colossians (finally!). It’s all stuff that has been on my mind since I read that chapter on the sun and the moon. I am probably preaching to myself here,
Look, you. Stop trying to pursue your own glory. It is not about you anyway. Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God, not for your own glory. Don’t be a glory thief. Be thankful your Maker has bestowed on you the great privilege of actually being able to reflect his glory, and that the more that He conforms you to the image of His Son, the more glorious you will become be, and the brighter you will actually shine. You will get the joy, and He will get the praise.
Forget about yourself. You want to please God? You really want to know if you are doing a good job? Then read. It is possible. God can actually be pleased with you. Stop trying to please others or make others please you until your face turns blue. Instead, get to work in pleasing Him because this is what life is all about. Here is how you do it.
Pray. Pray that He fills you up with with the knowledge of His will. When you know His will for your life, you will actually walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. When you know His will, you will actually be fully pleasing to Him. I am talking about the revealed will of God, not His will of decree. You can know His will in the things that you can actually do.
Your husband asked you to shred the pork? Do it, and do it gladly. Don’t give him the faces you give him, or rolls your eyes at him when he asks you to groom the gods. Submit to him, be a helper. Respect him. Honor him. Wanna please God? Endure with patience and joy. Take your children to the playground, and breath a prayer of thanksgiving. You actually have three children now. Didn’t you want that? Enjoy them, love them, cherish them. Yes, they can be particularly obnoxious at times, but so are you. Forgive them. Be compassionate with them.
Put to death what is earthly in you. Do not covet the life of others as if they have it better than you. You walked on these evil ways before, but now you must put them all away. Put away your wrath, kill your sin. Get up early to read your Bible. Go for a run. Be joyful. Pray often. Give thanks – in everything. This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Renew your mind. Don’t be a slave to sin.
Want to please God? Bear good fruit in every good work. Of course, go to church, read your Bible, and catechize your children, but don’t miss the forest for the trees. Bearing fruit is more than just doing good works or checking off a list. You can’t please God without faith first. When you begin checking off lists, you get overwhelmed and start thinking you will never please Him. The list will never end, and it is not about the list. It’s not about doing, it’s about being. You are His child. You have His love. You belong to Him. You are His, and He is yours.
God has prepared all these good works already for you to walk in them, so walk in them. You were saved not by works, but unto good works. You were saved for good works. Live accordingly. In your homeschool, teach them to love Christ. In your neighborhood, be kind. Speak truth. Do not shrink back. Make dinner joyfully. Get your hands dirty. Bake more bread. Make more pizza dough. Involve your family. It is a mercy, not a burden, that you get to cook often, and that there is always plenty. If you haven’t, give thanks.
Offer your whole live as sacrifice to the Lord. And do all this for His glory. Ask Him to give you His strength, for you will burn out if you are trying to do this on your own. The more you do this, the happier you will become, and the less self absorbed you will be. You will stop thinking about your skin not being firm, or your the wrinkles in your face.
More on how to please Him? Increase in your knowledge of your Creator. Repent. Embrace a high view of God and the Scriptures. Submit to a local church. When something rubs you wrong, you are the problem, not the Word. Be willing to be wronged, and be wiling to be taken advantage of at times – specially in your own household. Be patient. Endure. If pain and suffering visit your life for awhile, regard them as friends, not as foes. God is treating you like His child. He loves you, and He never gives to His children anything that they don’t need. If you find yourself without zeal for your Maker, then you are not living in His will.
In case I forget, give thanks! He has qualified you. He qualifies you. He literally made you able. He has made you competent, He has made you sufficient. Fit to work. You are not trying to live a worthy life. You are already worthy IN CHRIST – worthy of an inheritance of light. You are already qualified. Live up to it. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling then, because it is He who works in you to will and work for His good pleasure. He will complete His work in you.
He has transferred from the dominion of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved Son – what a gift! What a glorious truth! Rejoice!! You have been redeemed, you have been forgiven. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Get your second wind and keep running the race. Open your eyes, and fight the good fight of the faith. It is not easy. Be on your guard. Haven’t you noticed lately that the enemy of your soul never sleeps? He’s always prowling like a lion, ready to devour you. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
There’s no difference when done to the honor of the Lord between preaching and washing the dishes. As touching to please God, there is no difference at all. Do not look for loopholes. Women are not given the role of preaching with authority to men. Read your Bible. Trust and obey.
And STOP asking if you are enough. Ask yourself instead, ‘Am I fully pleasing to God?’ You will literally have your whole life with enough work in your hands to make sure you do.
Sister, as my Pastor told me, always keep your eyes on Christ and not men, and you will never be disappointed!
Wanna hear something super funny? I thought I had ordered a new commentary on Colossians. I was sure I had done that. But nope, I order a commentary on John 😂
BTW, thought this might prove helpful: