Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; The wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of intelligent will vanish. Isaiah 29:14
Recently I’ve been feeling a bit of conviction due to the astounding time and energy I spend seeking to prove my worth not just to God, but even worse, seeking to prove it to the people around me. Specifically, I’ve been wondering why it is so important to me that people who know me – especially people in the church – carry the opinion that I am a wise person – you know, a person of intellect.
Since being here I’ve been able to spend some time in The Journal of John Wesley. It seems that Wesley struggled a great deal with a fear of dying. Following are some entries he made during and immediately following his trip across the Atlantic to Georgia regarding this fear (I’ve added a little more explanation in par.):
(1735) Sunday, (November) 23 – At night I was awakened by the tossing of the ship and roaring of the wind, and plainly I showed I was unfit, for I was unwilling, to die.
(1736) Saturday, (February) 7 – (At this entry, the group had arrived only a few days prior in Georgia. Wesley writes that he asked a German pastor he met from Savannah on this day “his advice with regard to my own conduct” – specifically his fear of dying during the trip across from England. Following is the response of the German pastor to Wesley’s concerns.) He said, “My brother, I must first ask you one or two questions…Does the Spirit of God bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God?” I was surprised, and knew not what to answer. He observed it and asked, “Do you know Jesus Christ?” I paused and said, “I know He is Saviour of the world.” “True,” replied he, “but do you know He has saved you?”
Saturday, 14 (a week after the conversation with the German pastor) – (Wesley is invited to preach to a group of Native Americans, and they express their gladness that Wesley is with them, and their desire for the “wise” men of their Nation to hear him speak. Following is Wesley’s reply.) I answered, “There is but One, He that sitteth in heaven, who is able to teach man wisdom. Though we are come so far, we know not whether He will please to teach you by us or no. If He teaches you, you will learn wisdom, but we can do nothing.”
How complicated we make things in our desire to be seen as wise!!! The simple fact, whether we choose to accept it or not, is that we are only saved – set free, healed, with joy and truth – because of the death of Jesus Christ. Where we would be had that event not have been a part of history I cannot imagine. But it is a part of history, it did happen, and because of that alone we are saved.
I do wonder sometimes what is it going to take for me to let go of my fruitless efforts at proving myself to Him and to others – to simply accept the gift of life and freedom that He gives – to let the price of His life on the cross for me be so true in my life that no other effort for self-justification is needed.
Finally, I wonder if at the time of truly receiving the gift He offers, I won’t find that these burdensome efforts I make won’t be replaced by joyous and wonderful expressions of love for Him. Holiness brought on out of love for my Father and gratefulness and humility for the price He paid for me…what an awesome thing that will be.