Today my beautiful friend, Diana Lovegrove who blogs at Waiting For Our Blessed Hope; shares her heart with us, and how the beautiful and powerful doctrine of Christ (Christology) changed her heart.
MY EYES WERE LIFTED UP
Tears in my eyes;
I can’t disguise
The emptiness I feel when I’m far from You;
How did I get this way?
When did I start to stray?
How did I lose that closeness I had with You?
I wrote these words to a song about 10 years ago, in the midst of clinical depression according to my doctor, but which I knew was spiritual depression. I’d been a Christian 7 or 8 years, yet I mourned over the continued presence of sin in my life. I found that as I grew closer to God, the greater my sin became. Yet surely if someone loved God they wouldn’t sin. And what kind of a person wouldn’t love God with all their heart after realising that Jesus laid down His life for them? I developed an eating disorder – punishing myself by withholding food for I didn’t deserve to eat.
Just trying to think back to how I felt then sends shivers down my spine. I was completely bent in on myself, and looking at me made me lose all hope. My mind was trapped in a fog of blackness. I was “stuck” as a Christian, feeling totally, utterly, completely condemned. I was desperate to live a life that would be pleasing to the One who loved me, who I loved dearly, yet my sin appeared to be an insurmountable barrier. The church I attended was sold out to “living the gospel”, which simply accentuated how much of a failure I felt. On the rare occasions that the gospel itself was actually preached in the church, I would look around, desperately hoping to see some unbelievers there, so that the preaching of the gospel wouldn’t be wasted on the Christians! My lowest point was when I ran out of the church mums & toddlers group that I led in tears, as I tried to prepare some food for the children whilst starving hungry, completely overwhelmed at the sense of letting God down as I tried to make God attractive to the non-Christian mums through “my transformed life”, when in reality they were all deeply concerned by my dramatic weight loss.
I recovered somewhat by turning to sport and took up rowing instead of going to church. Then God gave me and my husband the beautiful gift of our precious son, and I returned to church in thankfulness, whilst continuing to hold God at arms length, for fear of my depression returning. In the summer of 2007 I was asked to lead a house-group study on the woman at the well (John 4:1-26), using a Willow Creek resource. As I prepared at home, my husband made the comment that the study wasn’t focused on understanding what the passage told us about Jesus, but rather used the passage as a springboard to discuss ourselves. And something began to click inside – a sense that my focus was completely wrong. Then a verse in Hebrews sprang out at me: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus. I immediately realised the reason for my inability to move on in my Christian life. My eyes had been fixed on me and my response to Jesus. I had lost sight of Him. I had lost sight of the gospel. I had no understanding of what it meant to be “in Christ”.
So began a study in Christology, a study of the person of Christ. Reading the Word (asking myself in every passage what does this tell me about God? about Christ?), reading books and articles about Him, listening to sermons about Him, attracted to those ministers who preach Christ and Him crucified. And as my eyes have been lifted up to behold Him, the image of the invisible God, and as I have begun to see the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ, I am beginning to experience what it means to “soar on wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31). As I have feasted on the nourishing Bread of Life, my empty heart has been filled with hope. As I have drunk the living water that only Jesus can give, the thirst of my soul has been quenched. Eyes that were blinded by my sin have been given sight to see Him who has defeated sin, who has paid the penalty for sin, who has saved me from my sin, who has set me free from the law of sin and death, whose blood purifies me from all sin, and who is my Advocate if I sin. The crushing burden of trying to earn my acceptance before God by my good performance has been lifted, and in its place the easy yoke of Christ and trusting in His righteousness has been fitted, which has freed me to run in the path of His commands. And the more I start to grasp who Christ is, what He has accomplished, and what He is yet to do, the more amazed I become at the gospel, which, yes, has to be preached to the Christian daily.
I wrote this final verse to my song in the midst of depression, holding out some hope that one day it might be true. By God’s grace no words better sum up my relationship with Him now that my eyes are fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith.
Tears in my eyes;
I can’t disguise
The joy I feel now that I’m close to You;
Here’s where I want to stay,
Don’t ever want to fall away,
You’re the Only One can fill my emptiness.