If you could see inside the corridors of my heart, to see the joy, pain, & fears, you would find an entangling weed that has taken residence for years. I don't remember when it first began to grow, or when I finally felt its cold, drab grip. For years it bore roots, seeping into every thought and action. But, by the grace of God alone, it is slowly withering away. Christ Jesus has been the only hope and remedy. He has been a healing balm.
What is this awful weed that rears its ugly head? It grew from the trenches of fear and was watered by a need for love & approval. You see, the thing I dread the most, the millstone I long to hurl, is the fear of rejection. Simply put, I walk into every relationship expecting to be rejected.
God has blessed me with many wonderful relationships that have not ended in pain and rejection. In fact, those relationships that have “failed” are just a tiny percentage. Yet, I still fear it will happen. I have never felt rejected from my husband nor have I dealt with the disdain or hate of my children. Our little family chooses to love & forgive and we work through the challenging stuff. If there is anything I long to teach my children, I long for them to know and live out the grace and love of Christ Jesus our Lord. In that type of love, that freedom of grace, all fear is lost and a flood gate of JOY abounds! Hallelujah! I long to embrace the Christ-exalting love, joy, and freedom I feel within my family as I cultivate relationships with those around me.
Why do I fear rejection? Do I desire man's approval? I believe God's Word to be true. I believe what God says in Galatians 1:10 and 2:20,
“For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ . . . 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.”
That is truth. That is freedom! Yet, though I long to live a life pleasing to God alone, this fear of rejection from man plagues me.
I believe we all long to be loved and accepted. This is not necessarily a sinful desire. We long to be loved by family and friends, to know that we actually mean something to them. Perhaps this is but a taste of Heaven where our love for God and one another will flow like rivers into a vast ocean, its depths and currents running long and wide. Even Scripture itself testifies to the fact that love is a great and marvelous gift! God commands us to pursue and give of it willingly.
But a life of faith, a life of love, is not easy. Though full of unimaginable joy in Christ, suffering, sorrow, and pain abound. Until our eyes close in death, we will battle our flesh and the darkness of this world. Indeed, if there is anything we can be certain of as a believer, it is the fact that we WILL suffer this side of Heaven. People will hurt us. Relationships will fail. And no matter how hard we try, we will wound others.
I was molested when I was a teenager. I thought I was receiving love and approval, but I was not. It was an act of selfishness and sin. For years my soul anguished over this betrayal and loss of innocence. It wasn't until I was in college that the Lord opened my heart to forgive and extend grace to those who had hurt me. Hallelujah! I discovered much freedom and joy in forgiveness. I had never tasted that before. There is, indeed, something ever so sweet in giving all your pain & anger to Jesus, knowing that He alone will vindicate what has been wronged. In Christ, I have been set free. And in forgiveness there is joy & hope!
God's Word commands us to forgive. Jesus Himself says in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” This has always convicted my soul. Who am I to withhold forgiveness when God has forgiven me time and time again? I love Daniel 9:9, “The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.” Indeed, He is a gracious and loving Heavenly Father! Through His Son, Jesus Christ, there is not only the forgiveness of sins, but there is power to forgive & love the unforgivable.
I have felt the sting of rejection and betrayal in other relationships. Though I have no desire to call out names or wound those that have hurt me, I have felt the unimaginable pain of rejection from close family and friends. This pain has perhaps been one of the hardest to shed. But should I be surprised, as if God owes me a life void of this? For even Christ Himself suffered rejection and was betrayed by those whom He loved. WE rejected Christ, the Son of God, who knew no sin. So why does it hurt so much? It hurts because we are not made to live in love-less relationships. We were made in the image of Christ Himself, the Son of God. Scripture testifies that “the one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (I John 4:8) Love-less relationships, an unforgiving spirit, a heart that does not seek reconciliation . . . all of these do not bring honor to God. Period. To reject a brother or sister, whom God has accepted in Christ, is an attempt to overrule God. My soul shudders to think of such pride.
Yet, the very thing I fear is often the very thing I am guilty of. We have all chosen hate over love, anger over humility, and silence over reconciliation. If we are honest, we must confess that we have lied, manipulated, and selfishly pawned our way through the lives of those around us. I think of Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” The only remedy to broken relationships . . . the only remedy for fear, anger, hurt, and rejection is Jesus Christ our Lord! “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds [we] have been healed." (I Peter 2:24) Praise Him with shouts of JOY!
My prayer this year is for grace to continue persevering each day in the truths of Scripture. I will battle with fears & sin until my eyes close in death. Oh, how my soul longs for that day, when my eyes shall finally open to see the Word of God in the FLESH! But until then, I pray the Lord would help me to truly love and forgive those around me. I pray to crucify that dread of rejection that weighs so heavy on my soul. I pray the Lord would continue to supply His healing balm. I do not have the power to remove this rooted milestone . . . but Jesus does! How?
It is no longer I that lives.
It is CHRIST that lives in me!
Run to Jesus, my friends. Having a relationship with Christ is not merely believing. James 2:19 says, “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” Satan and his demons believe in God but they are not counted as righteous. They are forever damned by God's wrath and judgment. Jesus Himself said in Matthew 7:14, “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Has God done a work in your heart? I love what John Piper has to say about the assurance of salvation:
The most agonizing problem about the assurance of salvation is not the problem of whether the objective facts of Christianity are true (God exists, Christ is God, Christ died for sinners, Christ rose from the dead, Christ saves forever all who believe, etc.). Those facts are the utterly crucial bedrock of our faith. But the really agonizing problem of assurance is whether I personally am saved by those facts.”
If you have ever asked yourself the following questions: “Do I really have saving faith? Is my faith real? Am I self-deceived? Am I a child of God?” I encourage you to finish reading Piper's article.
A hymn I love to sing (Eliza E. Hewitt, pub.1891) . . .
My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device or creed;
I trust the ever-living One,
His wounds for me shall plead.
I need no other argument,
I need no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.Enough for me that Jesus saves,
This ends my fear and doubt;
A sinful soul I came to Him,
He’ll never cast me out.My heart is leaning on the Word,
The living Word of God,
Salvation by my Savior’s name,
Salvation through His blood.
My great physician heals the sick,_______________________
The lost He came to save;
For me His precious blood He shed,
For me His life He gave.
And my favorite psalm, one that has brought much comfort to my soul,
When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.
One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD.