“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed! tear up the planks! here, here! it is the beating of his hideous heart!” -Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart
Poe’s story about a man captured by his own deeds closely resembles what I have discovered as I gaze into the depths of my soul. There is part of me that has been refind by the power of God and looks something like a beautiful landscape painting. Yet there are places where the old man remains in control. These areas are dark, dank, without light or hope. In the deep recesses of my heart remains the blackest evil. It scares me to look within sometimes. Even in what may seem like “good” activities, I find selfish, evil motives orchestrating my decisions and pulling the puppet strings of my life.
Why do I work so hard to do the right thing? Am I still trying to justify myself to God based on my own works? Why do I reach out to some people in need? Is it more about my desire to feel good about myself than to really help someone else? Why do I write about my struggles to know and serve God? Am I really trying to honor God or do I just like to see my words in print?
Facing my real self – I have rediscovered that my motives aren’t always pure. Sometimes I want to make a difference more than know God. Sometimes I stay busy in ministry because I am afraid to be alone with God. Sometimes I care more about being right than being a servant. Sometimes I do things because I want people to like me and to have a good reputation among other Christians not because God has called me to do them. Sometimes my motives are mixed with selfishness and godly zeal.
Oh, I want to be pure, completely refined…free from the old nature. But will I ever get there?
II Corinthians 5:4-5 (NIV) 4For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Sometimes I just want to yell, “Tear up the planks! here, here! it is the beating of my hideous heart!”