Monday, June 02, 2008

CCEF Paper #1: Problems & Procedures - Personal Application

As promised, here is an excerpt from my first CCEF paper. After finishing the three Ed Welch books (A Banquet in the Grave, Depression: A Stubborn Darkness, Running Scared: Fear, Worry and the God of Rest), I was to do a personal application, a church application, and description of the features of biblical counseling. Below is a the personal application:

Personal Application

I Am Found Out. I am the addict, the depressed one, the worrier, the self-injurer. In each of these books, to varying degrees, I see myself in the mirror (James 1:22-25). When each of these “counseling problems” is boiled down into their rightful biblical categories, I can recognize my experience of each and the seed of each besetting sin resident in my own heart.

The least tempting for me is the cutting of self-injury. Perhaps I’m too narcissistic or too comfortable. Regardless, I’ve certainly been very angry with myself, as if my judgment should reign, and somebody should have to pay.

I’m not constitutionally prone to depression, but I’m not immune either. I’ve tussled with the stubborn darkness and recognize my complicity with it. One long Autumn, my wife contracted mononucleosis and needed to sleep constantly at the same time as our little daughter decided to start sleeping as little as possible. I didn’t know I could be so angry or that I could be so depressed.

Admission: I have an “extra plate addiction.” I’m not wallowing in alcoholism or binging and purging. And I’m not obese. But I love food too much and God too little. It comes out in my habits at the table and in my waistline. But even worse, perhaps, is my information addiction. This is a strength of mine–to know things. But, unchecked, it’s also my weakness. I’ve got over 50 blogs in my RSS Reader, and I can’t stand to not know what is going on with any of them. I’m an info-junkie.

Above all, I am a “fear specialist” and am guilty of running scared. I’m a congenital worrier and struggle to rest. I can see more clearly now how I fill the role of false prophet–the visionary minus the optimism. I am found out.

I Am Helped Out. Being “found out” is good because it’s honest and the first step towards growth. All of these problems have answers in the gospel of Jesus Christ. My gaze is not just directed at my sin, but more importantly, at my Savior.

Jesus died for my injurious anger. He bore the punishment for my sinful judgments. I don’t have to make them any more. I can cry out for grace.

Jesus walks with me through my depression. He understands the category of suffering and speaks to it. What depression is caused by the curse or Satan or the world finds its cure in His comfort and presence. What depression is caused by my fear, shame, anger, legalistic guilt, and unreasonable hopes is countered by the Cross, my new identity in Christ, my Christian family, and slowly putting one thankful foot in front of another in humble daily hope.

Jesus challenges me to confront my addictions. He will help me to get violent and turn from the lies that motivate my gluttony and lust for information-mastery. He is the Holy One in the flesh who died for me. I am learning to fear Him in faith and grow accountable to others.

Jesus speaks to my fears and to the roots of my fears. He will provide me with the future grace I need when I need it, like manna in the wilderness. I’m already dead in Christ, so what am I afraid of? Jesus is calling me to daily declare my allegiance to His Kingdom by promising, even swearing, to give His Kingdom to me! Why would I worry? I am learning to turn and cast my cares on Him because He cares for me.

I Want to Help Out. This is “just” grace-based progressive sanctification overlaid on the messy problems of everyday life. As I’ve been helped, I want to share it with others. I want to become increasingly skillful at carefully listening and at lovingly speaking these gospel truths into the lives of others addicted, depressed, angry, and afraid.