I do not have his adonis features, his golden locks, or his sparkle eyes. Nor, let me be clear, do I have a man-crush on Brad Pitt.
I’m just saying, I look at myself everyday. Brad Pitt looks at himself. Do you think we approach the mirror in the same way?
Not adequately equipped. That’s the old meaning to the word "disappointed." And that’s how I sometimes feel about myself. Do you think I point trigger fingers and wink at the mirror as often as he does? (Maybe he doesn’t, I’m just saying… he could if he wanted to.)
Now before you try to build me up, just let me tear down some more puffy things for a moment. (Yes, I can be "puffy".) Bear with me, I have a point I’m trying to work out here…
Over the years, we have come to use the word "disappointed" to explain how we feel "defeated in expectation or hope." In terms of our own selves, we can become disappointed because we feel like we don’t have all the tools or capacity or preparation to handle something. Thus, when I look in the mirror and don’t see a Brad Pitt look alike, I feel defeated in my capacity to be as impressive as I could be.
I can be tempted by a give-up attitude, feeling defeated in my shortcomings (no pun intended) and failures.
Paul wrote (yes, the Great Amazing Absolutely Perfect Apostle Paul!!!):
"I know I am rotten through and through… No matter which way I turn,
I can’t make myself do right. I want to, but I can’t. When I want to
do good, I don’t. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway… It
seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I
inevitably do what is wrong… Oh what a miserable person I am!"
So Paul is stuck in himself. He lets himself down repeatedly. He looks in the mirror and sees something that doesn’t quite impress him. He’s
miserable, both in his own emotions and in his definition of himself.
In effect he says, "Look at how messed up I am."
This is Paul. The Brad Pitt of the Apostles. Well, maybe not physically… I’ve always imagined Paul to look more like Al Pacino. But I have always placed Paul on a Brad Pitt pedestal, assuming that I
could never be like this man in terms of his faith. Never would I have felt
adequately equipped enough to be a faithful follower of Jesus that even
came relatively close to the level of Paul’s passion and faith. But
Romans 7:14-24, Paul reveals to the world his doubts in himself. He
does not trust himself to do the right thing! He doesn’t expect much
from himself when faced with a decision of right and wrong, and he
doesn’t hope in himself that he’ll have what it takes to make the right
choice. Crazy! This is the Great Apostle!
And what am I? No different actually. No different.
So who will free Paul from this life? Who will free me? If we are not
able within ourselves to expect or even hope to overcome our
shortfalls, then who can help us overcome?
If I am disappointed in myself, then I am defeated in the expectation
or hope that I have in yourself. I feel as if I am not adequately
equipped to handle a situation, a person, a task, a responsibility
that’s weighing on me. I feel as if I will let yourself down, again.
I have lost hope. I have lost confidence in what I am capable of
doing… or in what I will actually do.
What a miserable person I am! Sometimes, I am disappointed in my
height (I’m 5’6") even though I can do nothing about becoming taller.
Sometimes, I am disappointed in my lack of completing tasks that are
important to me (I have 3 books 2/3 of the way done). Sometimes I am
disappointed in my seeming inability to do the right thing (romans 7).
"Thank God!" Paul says, "The answer is in Jesus Christ. There is now
no condemnation for those who belong to Christ-Jesus. For the power of
the life-giving Spirit has freed you through Christ Jesus from the
power of sin that leads to death." (Romans 7:14-8:2 NLT)
The truth is that each of us falls short (again, no pun intended- or
maybe it is). We are not able to reach the height of the bar that we
know is up there somewhere. We are stuck down here. We are unable
within ourselves to overcome such a shortfall. No wonder we’re
constantly struggling with disappointment and doubt within ourselves.
We have come to realize that we are creatures with chinks in our
armor. We are not perfect. We are sinners. We are limited
physically. We are limited emotionally. We are limited socially. We
are awkward at times. We are too nervous. We are too proud. We are
worried. We are lacking care. We are hurters of others. We are
hurt. We are trying so hard. We give up. We are not God.
So who can free us? The answer is not us. We will be disappointed in
ourselves if we trust ourselves to free ourselves. The answer is in
Jesus. Only in him can we find peace in ourselves. As we give him our
shortfall, he pays the debt. In the Spirit of Jesus is the capacity to
expect and hope.