Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Core of Contentment and the Secret of Sanctification

Have you ever been in a funk? Do you know what I mean - one of those periods of inexplicable discontent, despair and confusion? I recently found myself in such a state - once again. I had been aware of a number of things around me that weren't going the way I wanted - a $6,000 tuition bill, a broken furnace, not enough money for Christmas gifts, various overwhelming parenting challenges and some household maintenance we couldn't afford. - I found myself in a "funk".

My rotten attitude reached a peak when I was trying to pull out of the local gas station in our 6000 lb. Chevy Conversion van. Despite the well known Boston-driving maneuver of pulling halfway out into traffic, no one was letting me in. When I finally saw some daylight I gave the 5.7 liter engine all the gas we had and laid rubber as I fish-tailed my way into traffic - more out of frustration and sin than necessity. I knew my attitude was poor but I felt trapped in my funk.

After praying, reading the word and journaling in a desperate but confused effort to get out of my self-made mire, I got alone with God and cried out for help. The answer came not so much in a clear statement but in a fresh impression and reminder of what life in Christ is all about - my death, his life. And when I remembered this fundamental gospel message, it seemed that all my problems and unfulfilled desires miraculously turned from temptations to sin into opportunities to trust, enjoy and honor Christ - death to my selfish cravings and empty pride and life in Him and for Him by faith - I could feel the funk lifting!

Then the thought came to me - isn't this the very core of my contentment and the secret of my sanctification - my death, his life. Isn't this what the gospel is all about - my death, his life? Isn't this what maturity in Christ all about - my death, his life? Isn't this to be my joy and glory - my death, his life? I no longer dreaded my undesirable circumstances but was now trusting Christ to use them as he was pleased, even working death for me (that is my sinful self) but life in Him - death to my sinful demands but life in Him and His glory shining through his sovereign plan. I found myself content in Him and a good bit more pleasant!

I memorized two verses very early in my Christian life. They are sort of my life verses - in theory at least - and they well describe what I am talking about. Listen to God's word -

"I have been crucified in Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Gal. 2:20 (ESV) - and

"For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this; that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised." 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (ESV)

God freed me from my funk by a simple yet powerful reapplication of gospel truth. Thank God!! All our trials turn from despair to joy when the truth of the gospel applied to our life reorients our world from self to Christ. May you find life and freedom from your funk through the wonderfully good news of the gospel! May the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ be the worst news for your pride and selfishness but the very best news for your joy and life in Christ!

God Bless - Paul

1 comment:

Dave said...

Hi Paul,

Thanks for your honesty and sharing about something we can all relate to!
As you were sharing about pulling out into that traffic, I was reminded of the past when I had to pull out of that same gas station and felt a little angst from it... When we see more than 3 cars go by here in snowy-nowhere-ak we start to get a little uneasy... :)