Tim Keller remembers clearly a comment made by a teenager back many years ago when Tim and his wife Kathy were leading the youth group at their church in West Virginia.
“I know God loves me,” the young woman said. “But what good is that if you can’t get any dates?”
“I’ve never forgotten that,” Keller remembers. “She said, ‘I know God loves me, I know Jesus died for me, I know I’m a daughter of the King, I know I’m guided and cherished by the King of the universe, but nobody will take me out. So what good is it?’”
Both statements were true. This teenager was sure of God’s love for her. She was also lonely. No boys wanted to spend time with her.
“Which fact do you think is the most real to her?” Keller asks. “Which fact is governing the way she sees everything?”
The story struck me as I read it this week. I wondered to myself “how many times is my perspective on life shaped by the existential truths I’m facing and not by the spiritual truths that are less tangible?”
It’s easy for our lives to be controlled by our existential realities. Real life is so… real. Spiritual realities have to be accessed by faith. There is a difference in how we experience God’s love for us and what it feels like to have a boy show interest in or affection toward you.
Keller notes “When the psalmist, who is facing persecution from his enemies, says in Psalm 16, ‘I have set the Lord always before me; therefore, I am not shaken,’ what is he doing? He is saying ‘I am disciplining myself to let God and who God is and what he has done govern me. And when I do that, nothing shakes me.’ The psalmist also knows his enemy could cut his head off. But which of those two truths does he live before? Which one does he live in the presence of? The Psalmist here is saying ‘I want his reality to overshadow me. I want it to come upon me. I want his reality to fill my vision.’”
I don’t know what reality you are facing that has you discouraged or frightened or defeated this week. I don’t know what are the very real circumstances you’re experiencing that may have you paralyzed. Whatever they are, the question for each one of us is whether we have lost sight in the process of any of the promises of God – promises that may be less tangible but are no less true – that might overshadow or darkness that is right in front of us.
It was one of Tim Keller’s heroes, Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones who famously asked “Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? The main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression in a sense is this, that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to our self.”
What are the truths or the promises from God’s word that you need to preach to yourself today? Here’s one we looked at a few weeks ago that is worth reflecting on, meditating on and perhaps even memorizing today. The JB Phillips paraphrase of 1 John 3:1 reads like this: “Consider the incredible love that the Father has shown us in allowing us to be called ‘children of God’—and that is not just what we are called, but what we are!”
The same God who created the universe loves you and has claimed you as His own, as His child. If God is for you (and He is), who or what can be against you?
Let that glorious truth overpower any and every discouragement you may be facing today.
Here’s just a little bit of what was happening at church this morning.
Miss Jen reports:
What a joy to teach 20+ kiddos this morning through songs, teaching, games, and crafts that God Wins over Satan, Sin, and Death!!!! I pray that every child came home with a greater understanding of these 3 enemies of God, but that GOD ALWAYS WINS!! His perfect plan in sending Jesus is the ultimate victory over these enemies. And when we trust Him and His sacrifice, we have nothing to fear! Our fantastic youth leaders did everything from dancing to acting, serving snacks to getting dressed up to help make the time a special time for everyone! What a fantastic morning!!!!
Please keep in mind that with summer vacations happening, we need extra help in the nursery over the next few months. Contact Kelly Rackley if you can help out a Sunday or two between now and September. email@example.com.
The Apostle John tells us that we are to test spirits. But just how does one go about testing spirits? How can you tell if the spiritual guidance you’re getting in your life is legit or problematic?
We’ll explore that this week.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!