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Getting My Eyes off of the Prize

I've spent the last week and a half hiking the Grand Canyon. It was incredibly majestic, and in the quiet I found myself often humming and singing to God. One day, as we were venturing down the canyon, the song "righteousness, righteousness, is what I long for..." started to go through my mind. Do you know that song? It has three verses: Holiness, righteousness, and faithfulness, is what I long for. It's what I need.

I always thought that song was a little weird, because it was saying that holiness was the one thing I longed for, but then the next verse said the same thing about righteousness. But of course, holiness, righteousness, and faithfulness are pretty much the same thing.

So last week, as I was humming it, I found myself asking, do I mean that? Is righteousness the main thing I pray for?

And I realized it wasn't. The one thing I pray to God for, over and over again, is fruitfulness. I want to make a difference. I want to use my life for something good. I want to be part of God doing something on this earth.

That sounds very noble, but is it really? Because it hit me then that by concentrating on fruitfulness, what I was really saying is that "God, in your economy I want to feel important." I want to feel like I matter.

And that's not really what God wants from me. What God wants is holiness. He wants righteousness. He wants faithfulness. And all that fruitfulness stuff are simply byproducts of the holiness. Remember John 15, when Jesus says "whoever abides in me will bear much fruit"? We abide in Him, and He bears the fruit. We don't bear it; He does.

So it really is righteousness I should aim after.

I have to admit, though, that I have a bit of a problem with that. I didn't grow up seeing things in black and white, right and wrong, and I got used to doing the expedient thing at times. I'm not saying I did huge things wrong, but I have always struggled with white lies, or envy, or sitting on the fence if it was possible.

My children seem to have much deeper consciences than I do, for which I am eternally grateful. But God has been making my conscience much more picky over the last decade, which is not a comfortable feeling. I know that I am not the same person I was a decade ago. I can't watch the same movies. I can't take any extra change at the grocery store if someone adds the bill up wrong. All kinds of things like that. But it's the big things, especially, that matter to me--whether I cause dissension in the extended family; whether I show love to those who are difficult; whether I am jealous or envious of others.

But it is a struggle, isn't it? So often we think we've arrived and we don't give any thought to holiness at all. But when we get to that point, then we're missing something. Because God is always trying to change us; if we think that we don't need it, and that our main aim now should be to be fruitful, then we've missed the boat. We've put ourselves in the driver's seat, instead of Him.

In the 1940s and 1950s, the church talked about sin perhaps too much--or at least they talked about it in a dysfunctional way. My mother remembers, as a child, being read passages from Revelation on how liars went to hell, which hardly made her want to do her devotions. The Bible became a source of punishment, rather than peace.

But today we have thrown out the idea of sin and replaced it with this transformational gospel--that our main job is to make the world into something better for Him. And we've forgotten that we can't do that without an honest look at our hearts.

I can recall several times when both girls have come into my room at night, after they've been tucked into bed, crying, because they feel guilty about something they've done and they've had to confess. Once it was 5-year-old Katie announcing that she had stolen some little tiny fake flowers from a craft store, because she thought they'd make a good bridal bouquet for her Barbie. We took them back the next day.

Another time it was Katie upset because she had watched a YouTube video about kissing she knew she shouldn't (I was so scared at the time it was more than that, but I checked it out, and her innocence was still intact. She thought something was worse than it was :) ).

And there were other things, too. Sad because they'd lied, or been mean to someone. And they had to tell me, or they couldn't sleep.

I want to be like that, and I think God is molding me in that direction. And so that it what I am praying for. Yes, I want to be fruitful. Yes, I want to make a difference. But I also don't want this life to be about me; I want it to be about Him. And that means that I have to seek Him--and His holiness and righteousness--before I seek anything else. And that will be my prayer.



At 10:16 AM , Blogger Cari Kaufman said…

I can so relate to this message! Thank you for posting this!


At 10:29 AM , Blogger Heather said…

Wow Sheila, this was a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing your heart. I was thinking about this very thing today...I'm successful if I love and know God more today than I did yesterday - and if I become a little more like him through my knowing him. Not if I do more.


At 10:53 AM , Blogger Tessa said…

Just what I needed this morning as I'm trying to make use of my quiet "spiritual time" but have no clue where to start. I'm not sure that I was ever really taught how to study the Bible or anything (despite being raised by Christian parents and going to Christian schools) so this is a new step for me.
Praying for faithfulness and righteousness and holiness. I can do that :D


At 1:37 PM , Blogger Terry @ Breathing Grace said…

What a beautiful post, Sheila.

It blessed me greatly. Thank you for sharing your heart.


At 3:19 PM , Blogger Mrs.C said…

Great post Sheila, I really relate. My latest post had to do with soul-searching myself, I'm learning the importance of keeping my eyes on Him, who He is and why I need Him so.


At 7:39 AM , Blogger Katy-Anne said…

This is so my favorite post ever of yours. :)

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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