There are two ways to see things: Christ in me and Christ before me or the world on my shoulders.
The first leads to peace, the second to stress.
One is counter-cultural and God-glorifying, the other is the culturally praised sin of self-dependence.
I know from experience how hard the battle with self-dependence is. Last school year, I really struggled. School was too much. Friendships were too stressful. I felt like I was failing at every facet of life.
But Jesus met me in this mess with characteristic mercy. Over Christmas break 2018, He taught me two lessons that truly changed me.
I want you to experience this transformation too, so let me share the lessons God has been teaching me since then:
1. Christ in me
Growing up in a Christian home, we talked about Immanuel, God with us, every Christmas since I can remember. But this Christmas, the idea that Christ is in me really struck me. The God who holds the universe in motion is in me. The God who became flesh yet never sinned is in me. Not only that, but God feels what I feel, hears my every thought, knows the pain of temptation and the deepest desires of my heart. God is in me, one with me.
I can’t put into words how my whole perspective shifted when I let this sink in. Think about it: God has given Himself so fully to you that He sees my words in the exact way you are reading them right now and has the power in you to change you by them. No stress that comes your way is bigger than your God, and your God is never farther than your next breath. You have another pair of shoulders carrying your universe. Oh sweet friend, you can breathe!
2. Christ before me.
This second lesson is eually as wonderful than the first. Why? Because we have such a glorious hope before us. We are moving – every second – closer to seeing God. Seeing God. We will see the God who made us and saved us and existed from eternity past and will exist for all eternity ahead. And when we see Him, all of our present life will be dwarfed in the vision that is eternity. Sufferings and temptations? They are opportunities to rely on God in us for victory and achieve the prize of a conqueror. And on that final day, when we receive a crown of glory for the sufferings we endured and the temptation we overcame, we can cast down this crown before our Savior’s feet and magnify Him! What a hope to carry us through!
In light of eternity, every struggle I have here may be difficult, but not impossible and not forever. I can conquer. I am no longer defeated, but I have a solid hope that never fails with which I can weather anything because I’m clinging to it with all my heart on good days and bad.
You see, I used to live in defeat. I believed the lie that I was a failure, and temptation was just a million opportunities to fail that I would, of course, succumb to. I heard that I was more than a conqueror and while I might have given mental assent, I never believed it for a second.
That changed when I realized these two truths. Any temptation, say the desire for some boy to like me, isn’t stronger than the desire of the God who is in me for me to love Him. My hunger for that doughnut or cup of coffee I know isn’t good for me isn’t stronger than His hunger to have all of me. My impossible workload and the constant pressure of balancing life and trying to still give Him the first fruits of my time isn’t stronger than His grace and control over my time and my next step.
Now, when I face temptations, I don’t freeze in fear, not as much anyway. Instead, I remind myself Who is in me and my future hope of glory, and I literally take a deep breath in and release it. I breathe through, holding these two lessons, Christ in me and Christ before me, to my heart like a spiritual oxygen mask.
I want this freedom for you too, sweet friend. But you have to choose. Will you believe that God is in you, stronger than your weaknesses? Will you believe in the future and hope you have?