Not only do you search God’s Word, but it searches you. Not only do we seek to understand God’s Word, but we need to stand under its authority.
As you read the Bible, you may be tempted to draw back from it soul-searching power. You may argue with its teaching, resent its discipline, or question its assertions. But these reactions simply alert you to the fact that God is searching you heart. At times like these, spiritual renewal comes as you stop and examine not only God’s Word but also your response to it.
Why are you feeling upset when you’re challenged? Why is the Bible affecting you in a particular way? What specific attitudes or behaviors is it addressing? How does the teaching of God’s Word differ from your way of living? Questions like these can move you beyond impulsive reactions to spiritually productive reflection. The psalmist wrote, ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life’ (Psalm 139:23-24). That’s a pretty brave prayer, isn’t it?
When you surrender your resistance, you find the grace of Jesus Christ sustaining you. The very Word that exposes your sin also reveals the remedy for that sin’Jesus, your great High Priest. Through him you find mercy that removes your sin and power that works through your weakness.
‘I really don’t know what’s wrong with me,’ said forty-two-year-old Tyrone to his counselor. ‘I’ve attained many of my personal and business goals. But I’m still breeding ulcers, trying to climb up the ladder. With all my success, I’m still bummed when someone else beats me to a big sale or a new account. I have a wonderful wife and two great kids, but I kind of feel like an outsider when I’m with them. I’m often around people and have lots of friends. But I don’t enjoy it, and I don’t think they’re really enjoying me. I’m afraid my dark moods are distancing me from the ones I love. But I don’t know what to do about it.’
Tyrone looks and acts like the American Dream personified. By all outward appearances he’s succeeded in the areas of life that really matter in our society: family, friends, career, and finance. But like so many men, Tyrone’s warm smile and confident exterior mask a deep sadness and uncertainty. He often wonders what’s really worthwhile in life. Despite all the trophies he’s accumulated indicating he’s a winner, he always feels defeated.
Can you relate to Tyrone? The pursuit of the American Dream has left many feeling alone and angry, because prosperity can’t be measured by money or even family. Who does the Bible teach is prosperous or blessed? Only when you seek to find joy in your Creator and not in His creation, will your soul begin to find significance and true happiness. Stop and assess where you seek your joy.
Tom’s a clerk in a hectic government office. In the midst of all the daily pressures, he’s regarded as one of the most even-tempered workers in the department. He’s quiet and efficient, and he never seems to get riled at anything.
Tom spends his energy herding his emotions because he feels they’re his enemy. Deep inside he believes that his father didn’t like him as a boy because he was too much of a crybaby and a ‘fraidy-cat.’ Since he perceives that he lost his father by being too much of a sissy, Tom isn’t about to expose his emotions as an adult. His controlled emotional detachment also keeps him distant from his wife. In the past, whenever Tom showed any signs of being troubled, angry, or fearful, she’d ask him what was wrong. His usual response was a curt, ‘Nothing!’ So she’s learned not to ask.
Detached men like Tom find it difficult to live out the values they profess because they ignore their heart, which is the center from which values come. Often detached men will become addicted to work, money, football, alcohol, or drugs.
Are you like Tom? Do you stuff your sense of defeat inside, thinking you should be able to ‘take it?’ Are you emotionally frozen? Perhaps you’re so dead inside you have little to give a relationship. Is your spouse enduring a frustrating relationship because you insist on suffering your losses alone?
You can change. Start by connecting with others. Find a safe person that you can talk to. We were meant for connection, not detachment.