The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Ps.27:1.

I offer an ugly confession.

I confess that I hide under the shelter of infinite grace, where I then trivialize that deep and priceless well of grace by entreating my God to hold others accountable for wrongs done against me.

I nurse select grudges for bloody gashes from those who have been careless or malicious with my heart.  I confess that I want God to repay them for wrongs done against me.  I want Him to intervene on my behalf.  I want Him to align Himself with my cause.  After all, I responded to attack with dignity and silence – I did not repay evil for evil.  Now (and here is the undefended outpost where the Enemy slithers in with insidious yet seductive malice) God owes me.  I did my part; it is time for Him to do His. Time for God to be a mighty champion for me, to fight for me while I stand back, smugly observing them receive my justice from the hands of an avenging Warrior.

The dark confessions of an unforgiving heart.  

I read Joshua 5:13-14  when I feel the poisonous appeal of bitterness rise up like black gall in my throat.

Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”

 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”

Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”

Resentment sneaks up on us, does it not?  We do not recognize it, because it is hard to greet the full capacity of protective self-righteousness that dwells in each heart.  We find ourselves fantasizing about how sweet it will be when God finally gets it together to fight our battles.  We nurse our bitterness with hunched shoulders, clutching the wrongs done against us like jewels that will someday bring us the precious satisfaction of revenge (disguised in spiritual words like accountability and church discipline).

Joshua asked the stranger, Are you for us or for our enemies?  I greet the Lord with that same question when I find myself in the dark waters of unforgiveness.  Lord, are you on their side or on mine?  I am much more right than they are, so I know You’ll pick me.  

Neither, he replied.

“Excuse me, Lord?” We reply, outraged.  Um, did you not HEAR what she said about me behind my back?  The promise he broke?  The affair she had?  The way that child defied me?  The lies she told?  The money he squandered?  The kind of people they hang out with?  The way they discipline their kids?  The debt he is in?  The way they raised me?  I could go on and on, right?  We nurse the wrongs done against us.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.  Matt. 16:24-25.

The Way of the Cross.  The Via Dolorosa.  The Walk of Tears.  God is my defender, my fortress, my everlasting tower of strength, but His calling is hard.  He zealously defends our character, not our personal justice.  Our mission, not our grudges.  His reputation, not ours.

That is very hard.  But it is also the door to freedom.

I learn and re-learn this mystery: When I pray my eyes off of my story and onto His, my eyes open.  I see that He wraps His arms around me tightly and keeps me safe.  I confess, then re-align my perspective with His.

Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”

Joshua was a wise man.  He recognized the rebuke and the mercy in that simple but dividing word – Neither.  Joshua responded with rapid submission, re-aligned mission.  A few verses later, the walls of Jericho fall in a heap of rubble and the Israelites take possession of their calling.  You see, the question is not whether God is on my side, but whether I am on His.  If I lock eyes with Him, walk in step with Him, deny myself and take up my cross with Him, then the outcome is certain – redemptive glory, mighty victory.

Lord, align me with You, always.  


4 responses »

  1. I agree completely. Oftentimes we ask God to pledge His allegiance to us as if we’re the boss. We approach God with a list of our desires (or demands) and ask if He would kindly sign on the dotted line. What we often forget is that we pledge our allegiance to God and not the other way around!

  2. Thank you, Brian. I like the phrase – “pledge allegiance.” It is descriptive. He is the authority and we those who fall under it, not the other way around. It is hard to overcome my spiritual self-centeredness. But I suppose that is what the journey to holiness looks like! Thank you for your comment. Blessings.

  3. I also am on a journey to Holiness, so i can relate to your thoughts ! What a great post !
    I am so grateful that Holy Spirit walks with us every step of the way.
    I have only just recently come across your site and i love the way your heart speaks , it is a refreshing breath i inhale when i read your posts.
    Thankyou Heidi for aligning yourself with God’s way, for in doing so those who watch you, or in my case , hear you, are encouraged to pursue Holiness with a spring in our step.

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