You do know what God is after in your own life, don’t you? Maybe that’s why we stay so busy—to avoid knowing, so we can avoid dealing with it.
And you do know that the “quick fix” doesn’t ever work. Simply telling myself, “You are too busy, John. You’ve got to slow down,” is about as effective as telling an addict to quit. (Has it worked for you?)
There are forces driving the way I live, reasons and compulsions written deep in my soul. I know where my pushing and striving come from. They come from unbelief, from some deep fear that it’s all up to me. Life is up to me. I’ve got to make as much headway as I can before the bottom drops out. Make hay while the sun shines ’cause it isn’t always going to shine and what’s that underlying dread? God is not just after behavior modification (as in, stop it), but real and deep and lasting change.
And that brings me to another assumption that we must hold if we would walk with God—true holiness requires the healing of our souls.
How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. (Ephesians 1:3–4 The Message)
Whole and holy. The two go hand in hand. Oh, how important this is. You can’t find the holiness you want without deep wholeness. And you can’t find the wholeness you want without deep holiness. You can’t simply tell the meth addict to quit. She does need to quit, but she requires profound healing to be able to quit. You can’t just tell a raging man to stop losing his temper. He would love to stop. He’d give anything to stop. He doesn’t know how. He doesn’t know all the forces within him that swell up and overwhelm him with anger. Telling him to stop raging is like telling him to hold back the sea.
For too long there have been two camps in Christendom. One is the holiness, or “righteousness,” crowd. They are the folks holding up the standard, preaching a message of moral purity. The results have been . . . mixed. Some morality, and a great deal of guilt and shame. Very little lasting change comes from this approach. Hey, I’m all for purity. It’s just that you can’t get there without the healing of your soul.
God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.