We really like being the hero—we love to think we are the hero to our own stories, the main character, the big show, the one in the limelight. Even if you tend to be more reserved, there is this longing to matter in the eyes of others.
But part of the very foundation of the Gospel is that we are not who the story is about anymore. Granted, it was never about us in the first place, but to some degree, it felt that way.
There is an incredible heaviness that comes with trying to find fulfillment within ourselves—with trying to make us the big name, the most important thing, the end goal, the forever thing. We are, at every moment, whether we would like to acknowledge it or not is beside the point, undoubtedly steeped in grace. There is no reason for God to be so invested and faithfully loving and kind to us, but because He is a Good King, because His Love is the greatest thing in all of Eternity Past into Forever, we are endowed with a great Presence of Holiness all around us in every second, even the moments where we find ourselves least inclined to acknowledge or lean into it.
We are broken in ways we cannot even begin to imagine, and yet, there is a Healer, there is Wholeness, and there is Hope rooted deeply in the Throne Room of God, in the cross of Christ, and in what are seemingly the most hopeless of things.
We cannot be the center in this story. If we choose to pursue healing and wholeness and the Eternal—the Only One who is Eternal—we will not be the center, we will not be the focus, we will not be the big show. But we will be rooted deeply in the greatest Joy, the greatest Peace, the greatest Holiness, which will point back to Him all the more. We cannot derive true Joy from being the center of everything. Worshipping ourselves inevitably leads to grand disappointments because we are very good at making mistakes—we’re human.
We will mess up, we will fall short, we will be unable to satisfy our broken, aching hearts. But, the Good News, is that we don’t have to fulfill ourselves, we don’t have to worship ourselves—we aren’t the end all be all.
I think the whole idea of us becoming more like God, becoming less enthroned as our own idol, is well portrayed in this quote from The Screwtape Letters, written from a demon’s perspective: “One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not mere propaganda (as one would gladly believe), but an appalling truth. He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself—creatures, whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His… the Enemy [God] wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct.” (C.S. Lewis)
United to Him but still distinct. That’s the key in all of this. We are called to become like Him—to be as close to Him as possible and laydown ourselves. For it is only in this laying down that we can step into ourselves. We can spend our whole lives chasing our ideal selves, or we can simply lay down who and what we are and run fast after God—Who is entirely devoted to pursuing and winning us. He died for us—everything sacrificed, Heaven bankrupted, for us. We don’t need to spend our lives pursuing ourselves because there is One Who has already done that perfectly.