This week has been a life-giving week of self-awareness and understanding the destructive nature of my self-reliance. Who knew that a dead tree would help me let go of a little piece of the lie I tell myself that “It’s all up to me?”
Imagine driving up to your house and finding the mess of a dead 50’ pine tree on your house and in your driveway! Normally I am calm, cool, and collected in these situations, but for some reason this event shook me to the core. And I could not let it go. God gives us the gift of awareness in the strangest ways.
For the past five weeks, I have been working my way through Fearless & Free, a bible study focused on experiencing healing and wholeness in Christ. This study awakens us to our identities as beloved children of Christ and invites us to wrestle with the lies we have told ourselves, usually out of self-protection. One of the enemy’s’ favorite tactics is to attack us using lies to get us to believe him versus the promises of God’s truth. A lie I have bought into is the message that “it is all up to me.”
So back to the tree. A friend of ours noticed a huge pine tree in our yard had been struck by lightning and was dying many months back. I had an expert come out to look at it who said it needed to come down, but it was not urgent. I picked up the project to find someone to take it down a few weeks ago, but obviously my timing was a bit off. Rather than being thankful that someone was not standing under the tree when it fell, or a car was not parked in the driveway or even that the house was not damaged more, I focused on the fact that I should have gotten someone out sooner to get it handled and had a feeling I could not shake for a few days that somehow this was my fault. Crazy huh? God does answer prayer, and usually in ways we are not expecting. I had been praying for God to show me areas where I need healing and it took a dead tree falling on my house to give me the gift of that awareness. Shedding the lie of the “it’s all up to me” mindset.
Chapter 6 of the Book of Ephesians highlights that if the basic needs of a child for love, security and acceptance are not met by a parent, the child will look for those things in other places, leading the child to root himself or herself in ungodly self-reliance. When you get down to it, many of us did not have this correctly modeled for us and this sets us up to look for something other than God to satisfy us. Ultimately, we say “I am going to fix this problem because we cannot trust that God will meet me here.” It is a survival tactic that works against us as adults wanting to walk in freedom. Further, the sin of self-reliance is anger and its manifestations: self-righteousness, judgement, bitterness, resentment, depression, passive aggressive behavior, rage, revenge, retaliation, malice, verbal abuse, insults, slander, violence and even murder. When we struggle with anger, we idolize control and power as we wrongly believe that they will help us gain love, security, and acceptance.
The truth is that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). And as we celebrate the Ascension of our Lord today, He leaves us with the message:
I am with you always, until the end of the world.Focus on His truth, Matthew 28:20
The Ascension means the final elevation of Christ’s human nature into the condition of divine glory. It is the concluding work of redemption. According to the Church’s teaching, the souls of the just from the pre-Christian era went with the Savior into the glory of heaven. Christ’s Ascension is the archetype and pledge of our own ascension into heaven.
In brief, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states the significance of the Ascension in the following:
- Christ’s Ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus’ humanity into God’s heavenly domain, where he will come again (cf. Acts 1:11); this humanity in the meantime hides him from the eyes of men (cf. Col 3:3).
- Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, precedes us into the Father’s glorious kingdom so that we, the members of his Body, may live in the hope of one day being with him forever.
- Jesus Christ, having entered the sanctuary of heaven once and for all, intercedes constantly for us as the mediator who assures us of the permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
You can read more here if you are curious to learn what happened between the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus. At the Ascension, Jesus passes from this world to His glorified state at the right hand of God. Jesus remains close to each of us, but He is alive in our midst in a new way, through the presence and working of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit helps us to understand at the Ascension the eternal destiny for those who put their faith and trust in Jesus. When Jesus ascended into heaven, He carried our very humanity to God. He opened for us the path to heavenly glory where, one day, we hope to enter our Father’s house of eternal life.
For me, the Ascension helps solidify the truth of “I am with you always,” which counters the lie “It’s all up to me.”
Sometimes it takes clearing out a few dead trees to see the beautiful forest in front of us again. The gift of humility in order to lean into the truth rather than live the lie built from my own self-reliance. So, I can feel God’s very presence within.
Smitten with God’s Never-ending Goodness,