The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
but I have come that they may have life
and have it to the full. John 10:10
What’s in it for me? Far from being a Biblical or spiritual perspective, that sentiment is unfortunately a very prominent one. Rather than look at our lives in terms of Jesus’ sacrifice we look at what He can do for us. We forget that relationship with Him is the end and see it as the means to the end.
A few years ago I wrote that there was a thief at my door. As Jesus states in John 10:10 that thief came, not to build but to destroy. I felt that presence always around me. It was much worse at night when my dreams would be filled with images that made me uncomfortable. I would wake up exhausted and fearful. Thankfully God was gracious to me and had taught me to seek his face. I did but throughout the day the images would come back or something would occur that proved to me that the thief was hovering, waiting to steal my joy. I went through a season of believing that if I didn’t hang onto that joy with both hands, it would vanish.
Last night I had weird dream after weird dream. Some of them were benign enough I suppose but some were awful. They ranged from scenes of momentary embarrassment to scenes of true loss and heartbreak. When I woke up this morning I didn’t feel exhausted. I also didn’t feel relieved. I felt amused.
Just the other day I was driving to work and one after another broken situations in my life, might happens and what ifs flashed across my mind. I was singing along with a worship CD but I turned it off and spoke to Jesus. I acknowledged the images and said that while I was aware that yes, some of those things could happen I wasn’t going to worry about them. I thanked God for his constant presence turned the CD back on and continued to sing.
At work I encountered a couple of the uncomfortable moments but I also had some unexpected and lovely conversations. At one point in the day something happened that was potentially hurtful but I laughed it off.
What’s the difference between this season and the one where dread and fear plagued my every step? The answer is what’s in it for me. Or to be more specific, the love of my Father, the sacrifice of Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit. The difference is my focus.
We read the story of Peter walking on and then sinking into the water and the typical teaching is that Peter took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the “reality” of the water under his feet. Friends, there is nothing more real than Jesus Christ. His presence, the nearness of his love in the person of the Holy Spirit is truly life changing.
I had odd, okay, nasty dreams last night but I did not wake up exhausted, fearful or full of dread because before I even opened my eyes I spoke to my God. I am not worried that this is the beginning of a stretch of disturbed sleep. I’m happy. The enemy is prowling around me like crazy. It makes the former stalking look like indifference but today he doesn’t stand a chance. In the spirit of full disclosure I will say, he’s won a couple of small battles but no real victories are his.
Relationship with the Triune God protects me and blesses my life. That is not to say that all the challenges, disappointments and heartbreaks have disappeared, far from it. The difference is that I am more and more aware of the value of the love of God and as that awareness grows the things of this world have less importance. The enemy can and has taken things and people from me but he cannot separate me from my God.