“Seek God’s Face”
By Stephen L France
And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
Over the last two months, God has been showing me who He truly is, allowing me to boldly and clearly acknowledge the following statement in all its entirety:
“I am a sinful man. I am not a good person. I’m not nice at all.”
This is not to condemn myself—far from it.
This has been the automatic response of my hungry soul, seeking after God. It’s a visual of my true wicked nature as I go through the gradual transformation God is doing to burn out the impurities, ‘refine me like silver and test me like gold’ bringing about the identity He wants me to be. [Zechariah 13:9]
In realising my sin, I recognise how much I’m forgiven. And in seeing how much I’m forgiven, I view how much I’m loved. And in perceiving a snippet of that quantity of love, I’m receiving the true image of God the Father. But this process isn’t happening without a very nasty and dirty fight from the other side…
The challenge at this point in time isn’t so much the devil as it is what I allowed the devil to do in me growing up…
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires
The Creation of ‘Self’
As a child, I attended Anglican C of E church with my family ritualistically and religiously, but I wasn’t experiencing a relationship with God, which is what our Christian walk is all about.
Therefore, for sake of argument, I was not raised in a Godly home. Instead of knowing to surrender to God for His provision of my unique identity in Christ, I took my free will choice and selected independence, constructing my identity from bits and pieces I felt to be lovable and worthy of appreciation.
As I pridefully constructed what I thought to be the perfect identity, picking the ideas that I felt were cool in society and building my own moral compass to work with, this identity got tested with the pains that life hurls at us.
There was my parents’ divorce, bullying at school, racism, and rejection on many levels etc.
Under the construction of my identity, I had to adapt to the wounds inflicted; therefore, protective barriers of control were created for self-preservation.
This was to ensure I would never be hurt again.
It all seemed like the perfect plan, but I’ve learned well; we are not good at creating identities!
In fact, we’re awful at it.
Like Doctor Frankenstein, we set out thinking we can make the perfect human being, sewed and stitched together in what is intended to be a beautiful work of art. Sadly, we end up unwittingly creating a monster and the deception is that we still think this monster looks good! We believe we’re in control!
"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Identity Issues and the Major Challenge I’m facing Now
Forgive me if I sound like a paranoid schizophrenic or someone suffering multiple personality disorder, but the battle of Spirt and Flesh is definitely a case of two very different characters vying for territory of my mind.
I’ve arrived at a real angel/devil on the shoulder moment in my life.
My identity—the self I created, the monster—is literally attacking my mind, viciously disgusted by my decision to choose faith over independence/control.
This is not a gentle battle by any means and has gotten increasingly worse. My own mind has no limits to the malicious comments it will say to me against my decisions of faith.
A bizarre parallel came into my head regarding this identity creation. In creating this perfect identity that now rebels against me and tries to bring me under, I thought about God and how he created the angel Lucifer perfect. It was pride that turned Lucifer-God’s creation—nasty. The same is true of the identity I created—the self. Pride turned it nasty and I’m now feeling the full brunt of it, because I’ve chosen faith.
Memories are being resurrected to provide evidence that God will not protect me. It’s like a court room scene in my mind where the proof that God will betray me is in the life I’ve lived.
“There is no escape,” the prosecution declares. “God has never been there for you. Remember your childhood? Remember your parents’ divorce? Remember how university didn’t work out the way you wanted? Remember that girl who broke your heart? You are crazy to go by faith. God is never there for you.”
In all the unpleasantness of these thoughts, I’m compelled to remember Jesus. My advocate. My defender.
I recall the decision the innocent Son of Man made in the Garden of Gethsemane. The most loving choice in all of history…
Most importantly, I’m leaning into God for it’s clear that I must trust in the Lord with all my heart, and not lean on my own understanding. I’ve got to continue to acknowledge Him in all my ways so He can make my path straight. [Proverbs 3: 5 – 6]