Last night, Tigger came closer to death’s doorstep than he ever had before. The attack on his lungs was fiercer, his ability to stabilize himself grew weaker, and the amount of time it took to recover seemed unending. I had imagined I was prepared for this inevitability; that is, until it happened. After subduing my own trembling body, a series of thoughts flew through my mind. They began innocuously enough, after all a practical course of action needed to be determined. He was in severe distress, if he didn’t stabilize, should I take him to be put down? If I left him alone, he would have a better chance of calming the attack, but should I walk away and leave him by himself if he is dying? Was he dying???
And that’s when my thinking shifted. It’s amazing to me that, after all these years, I still struggle with the same sin. Self. In a matter of moments I was able to transfer my care and anxiety for a pathetic, suffering animal and turn it into concern for the inconvenience this disaster would now cause. I had guests coming for dinner and I had just spent hours in the kitchen chopping and sautéing, was I simply to cancel our plans and potentially waste all of that food? Tigger’s clinic was now closed; I certainly didn’t want another experience at the animal hospital (I’d be there for hours!) We’re leaving next week, my schedule is packed; sure, and he’ll need to be put down over the weekend.
I think you get the point. It really is all about me.
This morning, during my demotions, Elyse Fitzpatrick wrote these words in her book “Because He Loves Me.” “There is one sin at the root of all sin; unbelief.” As I considered what happened last night I found it difficult to associate unbelief with the ugly sinful self who appeared in my kitchen. What could unbelief possibly have to do with selfishness? Ms. Fitzpatrick immediately relates that statement to an illustration from her life in which her plans were interrupted. Her immediate response was one of disbelief and faithlessness. She couldn’t believe that a God who proclaimed to love her would in fact, ruin her plans. She struggled to accept that a God all kind, all wise and all powerful would overrule the life she so desired.
While I spent a moment contemplating that rich new thought, I happened to look over at the bookmark a friend recently gave me. On it is the verse that so many of us love and carry around as our life verse. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” For years I have found comfort in knowing my future has hope. This morning, however, the words “I know” jumped off the beautiful leather bound bookmark and hit me square between the eyes. The Lord revealed that verse in a new way, a way in which I had never focused on it before. The fact of the matter is that HE knows. I don’t and I am not supposed to. I don’t know the future, I don’t know his plans; only he knows and that truth is the truth he has called me to believe. If I simply rest in the knowledge, as Ms. Fitzpatrick says, that He knows, that He is good, and that his plans for my life are good as well, I am free from the bond of sin that unbelief breeds. This is the work of the gospel in sanctification. Belief.
“Let believers, therefore, learn to embrace Him, not only for justification, but also for sanctification, as He has been given to us for both these purposes.” (Calvin)