I have been praying He would strip away the boring, self-centered stuff that doesn't mean anything, and open me up - enable me to worship Him with my whole heart.
In answer to that, several books have entered my life at this precise moment in time. God doesn't mess around.
His death in exchange for our eternities.
His death for our unsanitized souls.
My unsanitized soul.
I don't usually think of myself in worthless terms. I am educated, thoughtful (hopefully) and prayerful. I am also stubborn, selfish, guilty of idol worship, and wax and wane in my devotion to the One Who gave it all. I live in a clean, safe house, with a place to (frequently) lay my head. Everything I have has come from Him.
I rarely think of everything I have as actually coming from Him. I think in terms of paychecks and payouts from insurance companies. In terms of what things I need for my existence, and what things I want,( what things I can give to delight someone else, yes, but even that is selfish, in a way - I certainly wouldn't spend hours making something for someone who wouldn't enjoy it.)
All this to say I am hungering for more of Him, for more of Someone Who is actually, certifiably Pure, Holy, and at His very essence, Love. The gap between us is so huge the Grand Canyon would fit in that gap 1-followed-by-all-the-zeros-in-the-world times.
The gap is uncrossable.
Because He is so different, so far above, so indescribably other than what I am.
The word that describes me is sinner.
I have broken every single law He ever made - because to be guilty in one is to be guilty in all. And the first commandment is the one broken most of all: "I am the LORD thy God, thou shalt have no other gods before Me." None. Nada. Zip. No idols.
Now, when I say "idol worshipper", no doubt you instantly imagine an exotic foreign land and people burning incense and bowing before some figure - the same way I thought of it.
But it started me thinking about the definition of an idol or god, and the spotlight glared full force into my eyes - caught, red handed.
For to sin at all, something or someone has to be of greater value to me than He is, or I would never choose it. And that thing of greatest value is : another god. A god I placed in rank above Him.
I was shocked. And shamed. And started feeling so separated, so hopelessly less than He is, so hopelessly sinning merrily away and never realizing that each sin was not only breaking the law, but a slap in His face.
And for this, for this hopelessly sinful creature, He gave it all. An excruciatingly painful death after a lifetime of being misunderstood, disbelieved, thought wacko, called illegitimate, owning nothing, disrespected, denigrated, envied and hated, and used for the things He could give - healing and sometimes food.
Now, think about this list. How hard it is for us to be misunderstood. If someone doubts our honesty. Treats us like we've lost a few marbles. Calls our mom's chastity into question. Laughs at us. Looks down on us. Makes fun of us. Spews hatred at us. Uses us. Spits in our faces. And then after all that, He hung for 6 hours on a cross, stark naked.
He didn't just have a fun time and then give it all up. From the moment of birth in horribly uncomfortable circumstances into a life of poverty and difficulty and then into itinerant preaching - harming no one, yet being hated by all the powers of the earth - His whole life was part of the cross. Showing us how the Father cares for us no matter what the circumstances. Showing us by living all the uncomfortable nasty circumstances of His time with joy and trust. He not only conquered death, He conquered Life!
I could never measure up, never be worthy, never go even one day without sin.
I came before Him, then. I asked Him to show me, through tears, how He could love me enough to do all this - for me. What, really, did I mean to Him.
His answer confused me at first - I suddenly was thinking of Fiddler on the Roof!
What is this? I thought. I can't even pay attention in prayer for a split second?
And then I saw it.
When Tevye's daughter falls in love with the poor tailor, Tevye turns to tradition - laws - to rail against the match.
And then he sings, "But look at my daughter's eyes..." And the lens zooms in for a close-up of hopeful eyes, full of love.
And then He said to me "look at My daughter's eyes" - at that moment streaming with tears. He was calling me His daughter, calling me tenderly, calling me with the love of a Father for His daughter, calling me with open Arms.
That is what I really, honestly, truthfully mean to Him. He knows all the dirt and scum that still clings to my soul - but He doesn't see it. He sees the total purity, holiness, and worthiness of the One Who took my place on the other side of the gap. And I - I am in His arms.
So if you are feeling "less than", for any reason from realizing how filled with sin you are to sometimes wondering what God really thinks about you, remember God sees you. He sees deep into your soul, into that place where you feel alone and not worthy of much of anything, falling time after time into the same puddle of mud. He knows you, every cell in your body. And He looks deep into your eyes, and calls you His child. HIS child. He is not ashamed to be known as your Father. He rejoices in it!
And at that moment you will realize, as I did, really realize, and fall face down before Him when you do:
I am a child of the King.