There’s a Reason why they’re Called “Good” Works

Back in 2011, I had reached a point where my porn habit and the death of my “ministry” pushed me toward the end of my life. I swam in thoughts of adultery, murder, and suicide. I felt that all my good works, and the salvation I was clinging to, were worthless.

Photo by G MacRae, Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by G MacRae, Flickr Creative Commons

But now that I’ve come to the other side of that void, I can see the incredible place God designed for good works to have in my life.

Previously, all my good works sat within a framework of attempting to compensate for a perceived disconnection from God. But connection was also the thing I feared most. Connection was dangerous. I had friends, but they all served the same selfish need: to show me that I was really chosen by God. The vulnerability of friendship was too much to handle, but as long as I could be the leader, I wouldn’t have to be vulnerable. In fact, many in ministry told me I shouldn’t be vulnerable…so I chose to pursue control instead.

I could control people. I could control porn. Control was like connecting, only on a diet: all the pleasure with none of the calories. But the more I imbibed in control, the more it ruined my ability for true vulnerability. I became entitled, especially toward my wife. The hassle of tenderness and consideration required far too much effort.

Real connection scared me to death. Real connection was a gamble (and it still is by the way). I was afraid of being known—of being seen as the lying, self-indulgent husband that I was. All my instincts told me to hide. Like the man with the legion of demons, something (or Someone) within me was drawing me to Jesus.

God was making it very clear to me: connection was my only hope for freedom. As they say, there is no way out but through.

I remember the moment when God told me that I had to be fully honest with my wife, even before I had gotten clean. My plan had always been to tell her after porn was no longer an issue, but I just couldn’t seem to manage that first step. “You might not get free if you tell her,” He said, “but you’ll never get free if you don’t.” All my fears (and all my wife’s fears) came true that first time I told her the whole truth.

The second time I told her the truth was worse…and the third time even more so. I kept waiting for her to understand me and accept me for who I was. It took far too long for me to understand how much I was killing her with every glance… every click… every visual pause. But eventually I came to realize this was more than just a small glitch in my character.

There were other stages to my salvation to be sure. A pastor broke demonic holds on me. A friend gave me some bold words of rebuke. I read books and prayed prayers. These all helped in ways large and small. And now, I can honestly say that I walk in the light. But more than that, I walk without the nagging fear that I’m not enough, or that I have to overcome my failures by doing enough good works to compensate. As I’ve said before, I no longer strive to be a better man.

The result of all of this is that now my good works actually feel good. I’m not trying to build my church, please anyone, or prove anything. I’m also not waiting for Jesus to tell me I’m good enough. I know that I’m not—at least not on my own—and I’m okay with that. I’m simply doing the good works He has set for me to do—and that is enough.

Eric Lidell, the Christian runner depicted in the movie Chariots of Fire, said that when he runs, he feels the Lord’s pleasure. That used to seem so foreign to me. But now that God has rescued me from the dominion of darkness, I can honestly feel the Lord’s pleasure in my life. I feel it when I tuck my sons into bed, or play my guitar at church. I feel it when I’m patient with my wife, or when I share the Gospel with a friend.

And because I experience His pleasure, I no longer feel the need to give unhealthy doses of my time to church functions.

I no longer hope that someone will ask me to speak in front of the congregation.

I’m finally able to connect with people without selfish motives.

And, best of all, I’m no longer driven by the need to be in control.

I now see my good works as good simply because they’re what God has called me to do—not because I need them to prove anything to myself or to others.

And having that perspective feels pretty darn good.

Luke_ZedwickLuke Zedwick worked for 11 years as a math teacher, church elder, and an occasionally paid minister of the Gospel of Jesus of Nazareth. He’s spent the last few years as a school principal, husband & dad, and Bible teacher in his local church home group.

If you would like to contact Luke, you can reach him here.

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