It’s about halfway through day two at the TGCW12 conference and it continues to be unbelievable. And as Kendra blogged earlier, Adrienne continues to be a little angel which allows her and I to have great discussions as we process through all the topics.
Today has already got my head spinning. It started with John Piper talking through Isaiah 6. Followed by Carrie Sandom talking through Psalm 40, Carolyn Mahaney talking on comparison through John 21:15-22, and Kathy Chapell discussing biblical parenting. Wow. Now Appleseed and I are taking a bit of a break in our hotel room instead of going to the last breakout session because we needed a breather from the sitting upright position. (I’m looking forward to a nice back-cracking from Eric when I get home!)
Here’s some more of what I’m processing through:
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the fear of man and my tendency to compare myself to others (which has only been further highlighted as I am surrounded by so many women for the weekend). In fact, I’ve been trying to blog about it for a while but it just kept coming out wrong–I couldn’t quite capture what was going on in my heart. A combination of the speakers today have helped me a bit.
John Piper discussed the beautiful gift of a new understanding of God that comes when he opens our eyes to the false picture we were holding of him and replaces it. Isaiah 6 is an intense image of who God is and the big point that Piper was making is the importance of becoming more and more aware that it is that God, in the throne room where the sinless angels cannot even look at him, that we serve. He is holy. And his holiness is made public through his glory. He is of infinite worth. And yet he is also the God that became the suffering servant as portrayed in Isaiah 53. Jesus embodied both of these descriptions yet man would have none of it. He was rejected still. We learn the reason for this in John 12:43 where John says man loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. Whoa. The God whose majesty is infinite yet who was willing to be a servant and die for us has been replaced by the affections of sinful, messed up people? Do I really realize what I’ve saying to my Savior and Lord when I look for the approval of people or compare my life situation to theirs in jealousy?
Stemming from this fear of man I have also noticed a tendency to go for the light and fluffy response when others express an insecurity or compare themselves to me or someone else. This, I think, is due to my own idolatry. Where I am idolizing the thing they are comparing and yet for me, it feels like it’s fulfilling. So I don’t know how to comfort…or speak Truth…because I don’t want to hear it myself.
Mahaney gave me some great truth in her workshop where she looked at Peter’s comparison to John after Jesus told him how he was going to be a martyr. Jesus did not offer words of comfort or sympathy to Peter after telling him he would be crucified. Instead, he just told him, “Follow Me.” I agree with Carolyn when she calls this a theological response. Jesus knew that the only way for Peter to endure and stay faithful despite that prediction was if he was completely focused on Christ. If we are just given fluff, what do we have to fight the battle with? We need Truth. The Truth that following Christ brings the most glory to God. And that it is by his grace and strength that we can fulfill the life circumstances we have been assigned. And what did Jesus say when Peter looked on John and wanted to know if his fate was going to be easier? In essence, “Don’t look at him, look at Me. Follow Me.”
Comparison is so hard. There is always someone who looks like they are in a better position than we are. But if we become consumed with their life instead of Christ, we will replace His glory with theirs and miss the holiness of the God we serve. We will demean the sacrifice of or Savior.
So, as with all heart change, we cannot just look to behavior modification. (Stop caring what others think, stop paying attention to whether or not she waddles while pregnant, stop comparing my money situation to hers, etc). We have to shift our focus — off of people and onto Christ. This is a full body rotation. Stop following others…turn and follow Christ. It is only through him that we can endure and find the joy and true life he has promised. Relish the glory of God. We are children of the God in Isaiah 6 — What can man do to me?
Last thing. I loved Mahaney’s emphasis on the need for rebuke and a theological response to or fear and panic when facing a difficult situation. I have found that while it is painful to receive from Eric, I grow and learn the most when Eric is willing to sacrifice my immediate comfort for what will bring the most good. Words can hurt but they can also lead to greatest healing. It is always a good idea to exhort one another to look to Christ. We are complete in Him. He knows us and placed us where we are for His purpose. Let us rest in that. And Follow Him.
This song came to mind. The lyrics are what I’m praying.