I Was Right...Yet So Wrong

I was right, yet so wrong.

Right Yet Wrong Title

The Lord recently hit me with something that hurt, yet I very much needed to hear.

I’ve been a believer for over a decade and a half now.
First off, allow me to clearly state this, as a believer you never arrive, ever. There is always, always, always, the need to be made even more like Christ. Christ is our benchmark, our target, the One we are trying to reflect.
We all have work to do in this area, no matter how Christlike we may be.

With that out of the way, here is what the Lord asked me.

“Nathaniel, is love for Me the sole motivation and drive of your life?”

Ouch.

“Well Lord, it certainly has been
a motivation…”

“Nathaniel, is love for Me the sole motivation and drive of your life?”

“Uh, well there have been times it has been…”

“Nathaniel, is love for Me the sole motivation and drive of your life?”

“Lord, in your power, we’ve done some pretty incredible things in my lifetime and…”

“Nathaniel, is love for Me the sole motivation and drive of your life?”

“Lord, I’m recognized as a believer who is passionately following You…”

“Nathaniel, is love for Me the sole motivation and drive of your life?”

“I mean, look at my ministry credentials, pretty impressive for a 19 year old, you know…”

“Nathaniel, is love for Me the sole motivation and drive of your life?”

“Well...to be honest, You already know Lord...the answer is no. It has been a motivation and even
the motivation at times, yet it hasn’t been the ultimate motivation at all times.”

The Lord has blessed me in so many ways, more than I can count, in my nineteen years of life and the fifteen I have walked with Him.

Yes, the Lord has also done some pretty crazy awesome things through my life for His kingdom.

Yes, I’ve memorized a ton of Scripture.

Open Bible to Isaiah

Yes, I’ve been able to be involved in ministry in ways that most nineteen year olds don’t get to serve in.

Yes, I’ve gone through a lot of incredible Bible studies such as BSF, Awana, Bible Quizzing and the National Bible Bee.

Yes, I am respected and looked up to by many in my circles.

Yet, despite all of this, something has been off kilter. The past year I’ve wrestled with this question. “Everything in my life is so blessed, God is doing amazing things around me and through me, yet something is off. What is it?”

It’s been like putting a movie together and everyone around you is applauding and saying it is amazing, but as the creator, you just know that something is missing, no matter how great everyone else thinks it is.

Then the Lord dropped that question on me and it all fell into place.

My ultimate motivation has not been love for Christ. I’ve not been loving Him as I should and my lack of love has overflowed into every area of my life.
I’ve looked so good to so many in my life and have been applauded as being this amazing young man on fire for the Lord. Yet, the ultimate motivation of my life has been skewed.
Now, I am not saying the Lord hasn’t drawn me closer to Him. Absolutely not. I love the Lord so much more deeply and richly than I did when I received Him in faith as Lord and Savior fifteen years ago.

Yet, it doesn’t matter if you are the one who won the first half of the race or even led all the way to the finish line. If you lose the race, you ultimately lost, no matter how well you did in the rest of the race.
That sums up my life. I’ve done well in spots, yet ultimately if I crossed the finish line tonight, my driving motivation is off. My salvation is secure as my good works don't save me, but my heart motivation in living the Christian life is not where it should be.

As some of you read this you may be thinking, “Nathaniel, you are being too hard on yourself. I know you and I believe your love for the Lord is genuine.”

Well, I do love the Lord, it is genuine. I am not saying that I don't. I am saying my ultimate motivation, my drive and my passion is off. The Lord and I are the only ones who know my heart motivations and even I need the Lord to take off blinders at times so I can truly see my motivations. With this question, He did exactly that!

I could point to my film endeavors. Yes, Because of Jesus Films truly is because of Jesus these films have been made and continue to be made. Yet, to be honest, selfish ambition and pride have crept in at times. More often than I'd like to admit, I’ve prided myself in the fact of how passionate we are in proclaiming the name of Jesus, unlike so many others out there in the film industry.

Stop-Motion Behind the Scenes

To be even more brutally honest, film has consumed my life to an unhealthy point. I’ve gotten up at 8:30am and worked almost non-stop to 1:00am, 2:00am, and even 3:00am on some days.
Film is great, but don’t consider going into it unless God has called you to. I’ve been called and yet I’ve had to honesty access my life and see that film has become too important.

I could point to my relationships.
I am trying so hard to pour into so many lives all over that I haven’t been intentional in focusing on the relationships right around me in my own world.
Too often, it’s been encourage this person, check, that person, check, fulfill my duties as a friend and brother in the Lord, check. Ok, reach out to him, check-and on and on it has gone.

I could point to my prayer life. Yes, the Lord and I have spent so much more time than ever the past year together in prayer. So yes, God has done some pretty incredible things in my life there.
Yet, once again, I noticed some off-kilter-ness.
I’ve caught myself praying in groups with rehearsed prayers before I pray, desiring to show how godly and upright I am. I’ve caught myself check-listing the people I am called to pray for each day.

I could point to my Bible study and how I’ve made so much of it a checklist in the past year of my life.

I could point to my competition days in Bible Quizzing and the National Bible Bee. My desire to be the best and impress others was high. I liked the title “best quizzer” and wanted to hold onto it through thick and thin.

I have found it present in my interactions with my fellow believers. My pride in being so theologically smart, my ability to corner arguments using the Word. My spirit has become too critical toward my fellow believers and I found that I was striving for uniformity, not unity. (Ephesians 4:3)

I could go on and on, yet you get the point.

So what has been my ultimate motivation? To be painfully honest, it has been living for myself as I try to save the world with all the gifts and talents the Lord has given me.

Pretty silly sounding when typed out right? Yet, that sums up my off-kilter-ness pretty well.

Now please know that I am actually not depressed or angry at myself as I write all this.
I honestly couldn’t be at peace more than I am right now.
I’ve been asking God to show me what has been off-kilter and He has done so! My gratitude for His loving discipline is so great! Yes, this is painful to acknowledge the truth of my ultimate motivation, yet it is so cleansing and freeing! (Hebrews 12:7-11)

So now what? Good question.
The Lord and I have been discussing this quite a bit the past week or so.
And to be honest, I don’t really know. I wish I could outline a five step process to fix the motivation and drive in my life, but I can’t and that’s ok.
Because God is faithful. What He has started in my life, He will complete. I trust Him in that. (Philippians 1:6)
The biggest thing for me has been to admit my off-kilter-ness and ask God for forgiveness. From there, it is just a matter of listening to His voice and keeping my eyes on Him and living in the reality of who I am in Christ. (1 John 1:9, Philippians 3:14, Colossians 3:1-4)

And for that matter, I can say 100%, without the slightest shadow of a doubt in confirming this.
God alone is worth our all. Everything else is worthless and utter rubbish compared to knowing Him! (Philippians 3:8)

So once again, I ask, what now?

Well, for me it is a matter of humbling myself before the Lord. It’s a matter of a regular heart check. It is a matter of a heart cry to God for more of Him and less of me. It is a fight, a fight not to slip back into how I was living. Yet, it is a fight not in my own power, but in the Lord’s power. (James 4:10, Ephesians 6:10-18, Galatians 2:20)

And it’s a life that skips through the pouring rain, singing praises to God at the top of one’s lungs as you go through life with the One whom you love and are infinitely loved by, Jesus! (Job 19:25-27)

Water Covered Ground After Rain

So why do I write all this? What is my hope that you will take away after reading this?

  1. It’s easy to look like you are living right, yet deceive yourself as to your ultimate motivation. (Proverbs 17:3)
  2. Every believer is going through something and pedestaling them doesn’t help. Loving and encouraging them does. (Hebrews 10:24, Romans 15:30)
  3. Love God and God alone. Forget all the worthless things of this world that we chase! Fame, money, marriage, jobs, technology, stuff, a successful career, applause, affirmation, you fill in the blanks. Yes, not all those things listed are bad, but compared to Christ, they are nothing! (Psalm 73:23-26)
  4. When you are loving God as you should, you will turn around and love others as you should. But you don’t do the latter without first doing the former. (1 John 4:19, Ephesians 5:1-2)
  5. Finally, my prayer is that every single one of you who reads this will be someone who loves the Lord with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength. And in turn loves their neighbor as their self! (Mark 12:30-31)

Keep pressing on and may love for Christ and Christlike love for others flowing out of our love for Jesus be our sole motivation and drive in this life and the next!

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal." - 1 Corinthians 13:1