The question the Lord is asking me over and over again this year is this: “Alyssa, what’s your identity in?” Last week it was phrased in a different way: “What are you trying to find joy in [that’s not God]?”
On the good days, my response is that I want my identity to be in Him, so would you help me pursue you, Lord? But you guys, that’s actually a really hard question. If you let it (or if God makes it), it’s a question that digs deep, and it has actually made my heart hurt a lot this year because it’s exposed a lot of sin. On the harder days when I’m being a punk and I’m choosing not to follow Him, my pride kicks into high gear and my response to that question is more often than not: “God, I know it’s not in you. And it’s hard and uncomfortable to do that and I don’t know if it’s worth it. But living for myself is at least natural, so today I’m going to choose that route.” And honestly, that’s true. Living for myself is natural. It’s easy – in the moment. But in the long run, like now, a few months into being a punk, that response hurts me in such different ways than the identity question hurts. When I choose myself, a weird kind of depression gets me. I don’t have purpose anymore – because like I’ve talked about before, the things on this earth do not satisfy. If I choose to do things for myself in the midst of that, I often just wind up feeling like ick. Because I’m not living for what really matters. For what really is purposeful. Through my most common response to that question, Jesus has exposed my heart and shown me that He is not my rock. That I don’t understand that He’s saved me from the very things that get me down. That I don’t understand that He is worth it.
But this God that exposes my heart does so not to get me stuck in a place of sadness and anger at myself but to give me opportunities to run to Him. To sprint to Him. He exposes my sin and shows me how weak I am so that the only thing I have to boast in is His grace. His glorious grace. It is so good that God is bigger than my endless sin. That He’s bigger than me. Bigger than what feels like really deep holes. Bigger than what I try to find purpose in – waay bigger.
Luke 15:1-7 has been hitting my heart over and over with really big force the past month and a half. (It’s pasted below for you to read yourself). I knew the passage, yes. I knew it was grouped together with stories or parables about Jesus pursuing people. I knew that. But when I heard it in this song, and sang it again and again in the chorus, it’s significance became a lot clearer to me. This passage became significant. Jesus comes after me. When I wander away – even when I run away – He chases me down until He finds me. Jesus is not a god who gives up. Jesus gets the victory. And that victory is also a victory for me, because Jesus, through His love for me and His desire for me to get to experience it, has died to give me his victory, and He is not going to let me forget that.
I am a punk, yeah. I choose myself way more moments than I don’t. I forget that sanctification, that the exposure of my sin, can lead me to Christ. I let these things overwhelm me and feel shame for turning away from God. But when I feel totally unredeemable, He reminds me that He is the one pursuing me. And that He will not walk away.
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.