Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Selfishness and Fear

I did not intend to start this blog by going over a whole month without writing any entries; however, I also never intended to spend nearly a whole month away from my home and internet service either.  I wanted this all to go so perfectly…start things off right, but that was MY plan.  God had other plans in store of what was right and perfect. 
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD” (Isa 55:8).
 “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless.  He is a shield for all who take refuge in him” (2 Sam 22:31).
 Just as I was finishing in setting up the basics and preparing to write my first entry, a call came in that we all hope to never receive – my Mom had been admitted into the hospital and preliminary tests were pointing towards congestive heart failure.  In that moment, my heart sank and tears filled my eyes as a million questions began to bombard my brain.  Questions that all led me to one humiliatingly selfish thought: “Oh God, please don’t use my Mom’s death as the way to reach my sister.”
Even as I write this, I can’t help but pause at the shock of that thought…and I know what you must be thinking: how can someone who calls themselves Christian put higher importance on someone living in this world longer, even if it is their Mom, over the salvation of someone else; especially another family member and especially since my Mom already has her salvation?  Believe me, with feelings of shame and disgust, I immediately asked myself that very same question.  Thankfully, God responded with the grace and love that only He could in this given situation and I was able to walk into our family crisis filled with a renewed understanding and peace from the Lord.
What God so patiently and faithfully reminded me of on that dark day was that, though human emotion is natural and not wrong in and of itself, it can lead us down the wrong paths and to the wrong conclusions if we allow them to take control over our thoughts rather than CHOOSING to rest in the truth of the Lord.  The emphasis on CHOOSING is intentional as we are always graciously given the choice when it comes to following the Lord.  However, if we don’t intentionally choose the path of the Lord, we will likely unintentionally choose the path of the world, which is what I did in those first few moments after receiving the phone call with the news of my Mom’s condition.  I allowed my emotions to carry me to a place where selfishness and fear lay waiting to devour me and it wasn’t until I felt the conviction of the Spirit for my wrong thought, that I realized I had gone astray.
It is from the world that we learn to cling to our selfish desires/put ourselves first and Satan is always waiting in the wings for his opportunity to deceive and ensnare us in this trap. 
“But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.  Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.  For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (Jas 3:14-16).
When we examine the effects that selfishness can carry out, it is easy to see why it is listed among the acts of obvious sinful nature in the Bible (Gal 5:20).
 In my particular instance, the thought of not wanting to lose my Mom yet was not in and of itself sinful.  When it became sin, is when I let the fear of losing my Mom turn into the selfish thought of not wanting my Mom to die even if her death would lead to the salvation of my sister.  Thankfully, the Lord used my error in thought to instill in me His truth.  In James, God’s word goes on to say, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (Jas 3:17).  The word of God also says, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interest of others.  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:1-5).    
I can only imagine how different the month of May would have been if I had clung to my initial worldly reaction of selfishness and fear…I imagine it would’ve been filled with anxiety, doubt, guilt and shame as well.   I witnessed enough evidence of that in others all over the hospital to know and be thankful that that was not my reality, that I serve a loving and forgiving and correcting God, and that I can instead declare God’s truths and victory over my life.  My Mom may be going through a health battle in this world, and though the world teaches us to fear death, we are able to rest in the peace of knowing that it’s all in God’s hands.  She’s in God’s hands. God’s word is powerful, encouraging and uplifting.  It is truth.   
 “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.  He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and love will follow me all the day of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.  - Psalm 23
...tomorrow will be one month since my Mom had replacement valve surgery on her heart and I'm happy to report she is doing well!  Praise God!!