My heart is like a house. It has many rooms. And in those rooms, there are some pieces of furniture that sparkle as the sun shines through the windows. You know those little squares of light where a lazy cat might lie all day? Like that. There are other pieces of furniture that never get any natural light at all because they are too far from the windows and too heavy to move. There are several closets in my heart where no light ever goes and random old junk piles up, collecting dust in the darkness. Then, there is the basement. Down there, it is cold most of the time, kind of damp and musty. And it is dark. I don’t even know what is down there. I have lost track and maybe it is best not to know. None of the stuff in the basement ever moves into the light unless it is forced up and out.
God is walking around in my heart with a flashlight and a shovel. He is in the closets and in the basement, shining a bright light on all the old stuff that has piled up and wanting to dig it up and force it out. He doesn’t point the light into the many shadows and dark places all at once. And I can go days sometimes feeling like perhaps the basement and closets have been cleaned out and everything inside is sparkling in the sun. But then, he goes farther into the basement, another step down, another crevice found.
Yesterday, God pointed his flashlight with cutting precision into a really dark place. I was reading Isaiah and came to chapter 60, verses 19-21:
"No longer will you need the sun to shine by day,
nor the moon to give its light by night,
for the Lord your God will be your
and your God will be your glory.
Your sun will never set;
your moon will not go down.
For the Lord will be your everlasting light.
Your days of mourning will come to an end.
All your people will be righteous.
They will possess their land
for I will plant them there with my
in order to bring myself glory."
Now, most of this sounded wonderful to me as I read. Something weird happened, though, when I got to the part that says “for I will plant them there with my own hands in order to bring myself glory.” I had a twinge of discomfort and resistance. I couldn’t place it at first, so I read the passage again. And it happened again – a pushing back or a closing down at the idea of God doing something to bring himself glory. This was a really hard thing and I feel saddened and ashamed by it. Something so deep and dark in the basement of my heart, outside of my consciousness, resists that God should be glorified. If someone gets glory, that means that someone else does not, right? If God gets the glory, then I do not. If God is worthy of the glory, then I am not. This diminishment of my self hurt and I resisted it without even realizing it. My desire to protect and prop up my own ego is deeply engrained and powerful and dark.
The reality is that there is a desire in my own heart for God’s glory. To admit this, well, you try it. See how it feels. Perhaps it will bring to mind this description of Satan:
"How you have fallen from heaven,
O morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!
You said in your heart,
'I will ascent to heaven;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of
on the utmost heights of the sacred
I will ascend above the tops of the
I will make myself like the Most
(Isaiah 14:12-14) This is fall-to-the-ground, face-down, ask-for-forgiveness darkness of the soul. This is the essence of sin:
"Sin has many manifestations but its essence is one. A moral being, created to worship before the throne of God, sits on the throne of his own selfhood and from that elevated position declares, 'I AM.' That is sin in its concentrated essence; yet because it is natural it appears to be good. It is only when in the gospel the soul is brought before the face of the Most Holy One without the protective shield of ignorance that the frightful moral incongruity is brought home to the conscience. . . . However painful, it is precisely this acute moral consternation that produces true repentance and makes a robust Christian after the penitent has been dethroned and had found forgiveness and peace through the gospel."
(A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy)
I have places in my heart that sit in soft shadows – my deception, and lust, and unkindness. But then, there is the bottom of my heart, which is utterly without light, buried in darkness, seemingly never to be claimed or acknowledged. It is so far down that I couldn’t even identify it. Before yesterday, I could not have articulated my desire for God’s glory. I didn’t know it was there. I would not have thought it was. And then God came in with his flashlight and a shovel. Today I feel bruised and sore, dethroned and brought low. I have been convicted, guilty-as-charged. I am so sorry. But most of all, I feel something inside being transformed and made new, like Christ is reversing the very essence of my self-centered, self-aggrandizing nature so that I am capable of fully honoring God and sacrificially loving others. In other words, by shining his light on my darkness and shoveling out my deepest sin, Christ forgives me and then works to transform me to be more like him. (Philippians 2:5-11)