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.
Less of us and more of Him…
Beautiful to see God at work in you, Diana, and all that's come about since… Thank you for sharing your heart!
Much love to you, my dear, dear friend,
>Jumping in late but truly touched by this moving reminder that eyes not fixed on Christ will only fill with navel gazing lint that blinds. This was a blessing to read and be renewed in my thanks to a glorious Christ whose beauty and majesty will transfigure this frailty for Himself.
>Oh Teresa – I had no idea that you too had an eating disorder. You've broken my heart too. I was listening to Laura Story's song "Blessings" yesterday, and found a segment on YouTube where she talks about how the song came into being. She shares the suffering her family have been through. Then she said that she's reminded of the fact that we are broken vessels, lovingly put back together by God, and that when it His light shining inside us, His light is able to shine through the cracks in those broken vessels which wouldn't shine if the cracks weren't there. I found that incredibly encouraging, and hope it helps, as I see His light shine so much through you. God bless you. x
>Diana this was so moving and honest. Many years ago I too suffered from an eating disorder and the pain and depression brought from that kind of struggle is so suffocating. I praise God the work he has done in your life! I was so moved by your story and how beautifully you express your love for Jesus Christ and the profound change that a relationship with your Lord and Savior manifested in your life. Thank you so much for writing this, even though reading about your suffering breaks my heart I am so thankful that God is using those very things to spread the Gospel of truth and bring life and encouragement to those of us blessed enough to read your story. Love to you Diana.
>I am so grateful for all your comments. To know that I am not the only one who has struggled with these issues is a great encouragement to me, as it seemed as though no-one could understand what I was going through at the time. It is such a blessing to be in the kitchen amongst like-minded saints discussing these issues, and I await the next course with great anticipation!
>A powerful, gut-honest account of a life mired in sin's ruthless, painful effects that turns into the testimony of an overcomer…all because of the Person of Christ. And the exhortation, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus," comes through you with conviction and power, as it's the fruit of His victory in your life, Diana. Becky, thank you for the post and Diana, thank you for the boldness with which you write.-E
>Thank you so much for this post. I have had trouble in the past doing the same thing. Once we really understand Christ and the Word we begin to realize His love for us regardless of what we do or what we have done. I'm always so humble and thankful for His unconditional love. Blessings to you.
>What a wonderful, blessed story! Thank you for sharing it.
>Hey, I just came across your blog by doing a bit of blog-surfing and I'm glad I did! I've added myself as your newest follower, and I hope you'll check out my Christian devotional site as well.Have a blessed day!In Christ,Dakota – A Look at Life from a Deerstand
>Diana, Thank you so much for sharing so deeply your heart and the doctrine of the person of Christ that rescued you. The former teachings you describe have also crossed my path in the past and I think you have eloquently expressed the deep despair those doctrines produce.Our Lord Jesus is so faithful in guiding His people into His presence. Excellent article today sister! God bless you.
>Such a moving testimony of God's deliverance and His grace poured out on you, Diane! Yes, let us ever fix our eyes on Christ! Thank you for your gift in words!
>The monster of humanism, of Christian programs and books and sermons aimed to make us better performing Christians, they all must die because they bring death, not life! Your testimony is a beautiful example. Thank you for sharing this glorious proof of God's amazing faithfulness and grace! Love and hugs!
>Hi Diane! Thank you for sharing this today. Reading it was a great encouragement to me, as I have been there! I still am working to keep my eyes focused on Christ instead of myself. Love & blessings to you!
>God bless you, Diana, for sharing so openly. How much we need to fix our eyes of Jesus!I have a dear friend who went/is going through a similar experience. Your post gives me insight on how to pray for her.
>Diana, Thank you so much for opening your heart and telling how God has been so faithful to you and how His amazing grace has led you safely so far. It never ceases to amaze me how God manages to take the smell of the fire off of us so that there is not even a slight hint of the fire on us — only the sweet aroma of Christ! Your testimony reminds of something you probably have already heard before. Robert McCheyne said, "For every look at yourself take ten looks at Christ." He is altogether lovely! Thank you for encouraging our souls today and reminding us to keep our eyes on the author and the finisher of our faith! I love you dearly!