About 10 years ago, I remember being in a desert place. I felt dry, and I felt lonely. I was going to church and youth group, and I was involved at school. I tried desperately to hide how I was feeling. I was supposed to “have it all together”, I thought. I didn’t want to show weakness. In all honesty, and I hesitate to say this fully, but I was really bordering on depressed.
One day after church, I decided to sit upstairs while everyone was mingling and try to hash this out with God. Someone came and prayed for me during this time, and later that day, when I talked to my youth pastor, I started to get a bit of clarity. He shared this verse from Colossians with me.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3
He also lent me a book – The Pursuit of God – and that night I made a commitment. I began waking up every morning before school, driving to Starbucks and reading my Bible and this book. My feelings didn’t change immediately, but after a couple weeks, I noticed a major difference.
I wasn’t going to counselling or sitting and processing all my feelings with a friend. Those things aren’t bad at all, but I think in this given circumstance, what was needed was a bit of gazing.
“Faith is the least self-regarding of the virtues. It is by its very nature scarcely conscious of its own existence. Like the eye which sees everything in front of it and never sees itself, faith is occupied with the Object upon which it rests and pays no attention to itself at all. While we are looking at God we do not see ourselves – blessed riddance. The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect One. While he looks at Christ, the very things he has so long been trying to do will be getting done within him. It will be God working in him to will and to do.” A.W. Tozer
I love the quote above because it really shows us a simple but challenging path. Faith isn’t about us. It’s not about how big we can believe or how much. It’s actually all about God. In that moment when I had lost hope and lost faith, the only thing that renewed these things was getting my eyes, my gaze, off of myself and onto the Most High God!
“While we are looking at God we do not see ourselves – blessed riddance.”
This section of the quote says it all, and the tag at the end is so beautiful – “blessed riddance”. It’s actually quite wonderful where I ended up at the end of that season. And no, that season didn’t last forever, and that is ok. God radically changed my life as a 17-year-old, though, and I think back now, when I don’t know what to do or when I am feeling stressed or tired or burnt out, and I remind myself to stop gazing at myself. Gaze at Him. I am thankful for that reminder – for that experience 10 years ago.
Right now, we are in the midst of our annual campaign as a YWAM centre, and the theme is incredibly focused on God and his character. It’s called LIMITLESS, and it’s literally God – who He is, His limitlessness and magnitude, His majesty. It’s not about us or our response. It’s just about Him, and as we have been praying and reflecting on this, I keep coming back to this quote and principle.
I keep remembering that this is what it’s all about really. It’s about looking to Him.