Above All Else
…Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Earlier this year I found myself at my church’s men’s retreat. Due to things taking place in life, my heart was heavy going there. This year has been marked with a deep, fierce, and exhausting fight against my sinful nature. This fight is a war that I asked God to start within me and pleaded with him for help to find the root of these issues I wrestle with. Issues of anger and frustration. Well, he has been faithful to answer that prayer. There is a lot I’m working through and the deeper God takes me in the fight, the more I see the sizable root of selfishness within me that I desperately long to be freed from. The root manifests itself in many ways and causes pain and grief for myself and others, and I want it gone!
Well, when I went to that retreat my soul was like a war torn landscape and I felt lifeless on the battlefield. I wasn’t sure what God had for me there, but I needed something. I was pleading with him for it, and once again he showed up.
It was on the Friday night of the retreat, during worship, that God pressed hard upon my heart with a powerful reality that broke me and lifted me up at the same time. It was while we were singing a familiar song, Come Thou Fount, however, it had an extra chorus added that says:
Above all else I adore Your name. Above all else, tune my heart to sing Your praise. The highest praise, the loudest praise, to the Name above every name!
When we are not careful, those words can roll of the tongue with little thought. Yeah yeah, praise God and stuff… But that night God refused to let those words be passive on my lips. When singing that night God struck me between the eyes. He was peeling back the layers around my root and showing me another level of depth it reaches. “Shawn, if my name is to be above all else, and if you will truly adore it more, then you have to love my will for your life and let go of your own…”
As that sunk in, and the depth of my sin was once again shown to me, I found myself broken. As I wept, God was showing me that this isn’t about struggling with frustration or being short tempered, this is about being so in love with how I want my life to look, that I rebel against anything, even God, when something forces me in a different direction. I’m more in love with my plans than his. I’m more in love with my name than his, I adore my name above his.
That, my friends, is sin.
I’d love to end this article by saying that I left that weekend retreat and was never selfish again. But I cannot. But I can say this, that God came to me, lying lifeless on the battlefield of my soul and picked me up. He lifted my head with tenderness and truth, and spoke clearly to me, “Shawn, I’m not done yet, and you will not fail in this fight, because I don’t fail. I started this work, and I’ll finish it. Keep fighting, I’ve got you.”
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9
God is working on me, and if you feel lifeless on the battlefield of your soul right now, know that he is fighting for you too. He will not leave you nor forsake you. Take courage and rely on his strength! Run the race and press on!