Anger, so I have learned, been taught, and seen to be true, often finds its beginnings in idolatry. You're mad at Bobby for stealing your pencil? It could be because you care more about that pencil than you do obeying God and loving Bobby. You're mad that your car broke down? Is that because you trust more in the things that you have than in the God who gave them to you? You're angry that you're still single? Well, that's the oldest one in the Joshua Harris book....
My ignorance, my failures, my very emotions spark the flame of my anger. "Stop feeling that!" Even though I'm aware that feelings are not bad in themselves but rather stem from wrong heart attitudes. Anger because I am not good enough... something I already know in my head to be true. Anger directed at myself because I want to see some progress. I want to look at God and be able to say, "You have something to say 'Well done!' about. I have been good and faithful. Not all the time, but You see I was trying." If I have nothing to show for it, no evidence of change, I feel like there's nothing that says I've learned anything or was trying at all.
But... I can't earn His favor... so what am I trying to accomplish? I want to be obedient. I want to be a child He can be proud of. Yet is even that just a way of glossing over saying that I'm trying to win (earn) His affection (forgiveness)?
"Embracing Accusation." I'm cursed because I have sinned and cannot save myself. My only hope for a future is in the fact that Someone was declared a sufficient substitute for me and took my curse. I am no longer damned. But I am still alive. In this relationship with a maddening, head swirling God who commands that I be perfect as He is perfect, but not because I can earn anything. And not because I lose anything for my imperfection. And not because I get any recognition for any small successes, especially since I can't claim any glory for them regardless because of my fallen state. And I should be grateful for all the punishment of my failures that I can get because the discipline makes me more like Christ.
Why? "Because it pleases God." Okay, but... isn't that what I said before? I said, "I want to be a child He can be proud of." I want to please Him. Okay, perhaps "please" is deceptive, here. It's great if He's pleased, but more than that, I don't want to make Him angry. I'm terrified of His anger. Not even of discipline; discipline I can handle. But just don't be angry at me.
Fear. If we're afraid of God, we don't trust Him. My focus is on myself - on my failures, on my inability to please. I should never be focused inward - idolatry of self is the most terrifying of all. No, I need to trust Him. Because I KNOW He is trustworthy; if I don't know anything else, I know that. Clearly, it is still only head knowledge. But I know it. And if I can learn to trust Him, to look to Him rather than to my failures to be like Him...
everything else really does fade away.