Monday, October 19, 2009

The End Of Pretending

We’re prone to pretending, you and I, acting as though we’re capable when the truth is that’s not the issue. God has not invested Himself in our capability but in His own. And He wants you and me to have that. God is not willing that we should be kept from the authentic life and grace of Christ in us, so He allows—even causes—awful frustration to visit with us.

This isn’t about learning and growing either. Once you’ve found Christ’s power at work within you through frustration, it doesn’t mean you’ve passed the class and there will be no more tests. What a crazy thought that is; we expect that growing in Christ means life gets better with time, passing one class and grade after another, and one day we’ll graduate. That’s not what this is. This is where belief and experience meet, where life is less and less about pretending and posturing and more and more about the reality of Christ in us. Paul’s life experiences didn’t get better and nicer or become mellow with age. He didn’t proclaim that he wanted to be done with this life and get on to the next because he was bored but because he ached. (See 2 Corinthians 5.)

Prolonged frustration and bother don’t happen simply to goad us into good behavior or to “teach us a lesson”—it keeps us from pretending we can do anything apart from Christ. And it happens so we’ll find Him. The inability to keep yourself together or to keep producing the look of love for someone for whom you feel none is not a sign that you need to recommit and do the right thing. It’s the death of thinking you can and are supposed to do anything apart from Jesus. Frustration is the beginning of the end of pretending.

Too often we fail to think of ourselves as in Christ, living in Him at every moment. Instead we think of ourselves as outside of Christ with a whole lot to do for Him. We may think of quiet times and moments of solitude with Jesus as charging up our depleted batteries; better not let yours run down too far or your whole system will crash. Plug in, charge up, and off you go, hoping you’re charged-up enough to face the unknown of the day. And when it appears you’re not, keep smiling, hold it together, and pretend anyway. Wouldn’t Jesus want it that way?

No, He wouldn’t. In light of your inability, instead He would beckon you to live by faith that He is within and that He is capable. That’s why frustration is so important! It keeps us bothered with this world and the stuff we go through every day so we’ll not live by it or for it. When you’ve grown discontented with the world, a look within will save you from a needless burnout.

(Excerpted from my book, "Better Off Than You Think," Ch. 13)

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