How I've Come To Love Being Frustrated

Do you ever find that your best-laid plans go awry? That you intended to do something—maybe even something good—but you just couldn’t seem to make it happen?

Lately, many of my plans and intentions have been frustrated. In the past, I’ve always trusted God when things didn’t go my way; I would have faith that God knew what was best, and I would resign myself to going forward.

I still do trust God for the future, but lately I’ve come to see my frustrated plans as part of a deeper work in my life—as part of an old idea called “mortification.” Mortification is the process of the Christian life by which we “mortify” (or put to death) the parts of our self that hinder us, so that we may grow fully into the image of Christ. The theologian Johann Arndt put it this way:

“True conversion does not consist only in putting away great and outward sins, but in descending deeply into your own self, searching into the inmost recesses of the heart, the secrets and closets, all the windings and turnings—and then in changing and renewing the heart throughout, with the grace that is given you. And so, by faith, you are converted from self-love to divine love; from the world and all worldly desires, to a spiritual and heavenly life; and from participating in the world’s vanities and pleasures, to participating in the merits and virtues of Christ, by believing his word, and walking in his steps.”

You see, even when I trust God I often carry within me my own desires. I trust God when my plans don’t work out, but deep down I still think that they’re good plans. I thought the ministry idea I had was a good idea, and I wish it had happened. I wanted to do this or that in my personal life—but it never worked out, and that makes me sad because I still think it would have been good for me. Even when I trust God, I don’t always do so joyfully.

All my unfinished plans may really have been noble and good. They may really have been activities that would have honored God—but that’s not the point. The point is for me not merely to submit to God’s will, but to increasingly put to death my own desires so that I gladly embrace God’s desires. The point is to come to love my own ideas less, and to love God’s ideas for my life more. The point is mortification—letting go of my own ideas, desires, and purposes so that my heart aligns more and more with the heart of Christ.

Take a moment to reflect on your life. Where are you following God only half-heartedly? Where are you nurturing your own desires at the expense of God’s desires? Where are you more in love with your own will than God’s will? Pray that you might put those parts of your life to death; the more you do so, the more you will come fully alive to your true self in Christ.

—Andrew Garnett

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