Then it hit me like a ton a bricks and I began to sob, "God, I don't love MYSELF!" I repeated this a few times, "I don't love myself God! I don't know why, help me to love myself so that I can love others God!" Of course I loved others, but I can't be fully effective on my calling or winning souls when I don't even love my own soul enough to save it. That is a bold statement, I know. But it is so true for so many of us. It is so easy to want to "save the world" and send everyone to heaven. Anyone who has any kind of burden for souls knows the feeling. It is so easy to get excited when someone we know says they're coming to church with us Sunday morning or we see them at an altar giving their hearts to God. It is so easy to answer their endless questions & biblical debates on scripture, and so easy to point out the steps to salvation to them when we're trying to win their soul over to God. It's so easy to come before God for them in prayer and failing to even make sure our own hearts are clean. It's so easy to go through those motions.
When it sank in that I didn't love myself, I meditated for a moment and just waited on God to speak. I felt a tug on my heart that said, just pick up your Bible and open it. I opened to Deut 20 and read the verses (below.) As I read I thought about the time I spent and the things I learned in the military. I pictured the chaplains giving us all a "pep talk" and then our leading officers coming in to "be real" with us before we walk onto the perspective battle field, as I read this scenerio below.
The priest encourages the Israelites to not be afraid because God is with them and will fight for them. But even after the priest said, GOD IS WITH THEM and GOD IS GOING TO FIGHT FOR THEM, the officers still stood up and said, "whoa... hang on a minute though..." They said if ANY man has a home he's not dedicated back home, a vinyard he's planted and not eaten from, or a woman he's engaged to and not married, to GO HOME and do those things lest they die in battle and another man get to do those things for them. Lastly, they said, who is fearful and weak hearted out there? If you are afraid and weak hearted, go home now so that you don't make your fellow brothers in arms afraid and weak hearted.
I understood this concept well, knowing that when troop morale is low, in any individual troop member, it can affect the entire flight/platoon, and low troop morale can affect the entire mission! God was with them, as he is with us, but without our FAITH in Him, we will discourage ourselves and lose a battle before it's even begun. These officers knew that if any of those men went to battle without their personal affairs in order, the troop was better off fighting without them. Distracted, fearful and weak hearted men would have just brought the entire platoon down in the battle. Likewise, if we don't have our own spiritual homes in order, we can't fight a battle either.
If we don't love ourselves enough to feed our own souls or pray for our own souls, then we can't be full effective in a battle. It's not enough to let the preacher feed us. It's not enough to let ourselves be carried on the prayers of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It's not enough to love others and get out there and witness. We have to love our own souls enough to save them first, while also being willing to lose our own soul to the cross. I realized that I don't love myself at all if I don't maintain my own soul.
I could witness to a world of people, and still lose my own soul. I can't claim to love people like God loves them if I don't even love my own soul enough to save it, feed it, nourish it, and contiously keep my own heart in sync with God's. I knew that God didn't want me to go forward yet in my calling because he wanted my soul to be saved to. Yes, he would be with me and he would save the souls I fought for in battle... but God doesn't want us losing our own souls too. He doesn't want us affecting the morale of our wingmen either. We have to all be strong hearted as a unit in battle.
We are the body of Christ, one BIG moving giant in a battle, and every limb needs to be completely effective and stable & strong in a battle. That takes every member "eating all their veggies" before stepping out onto the battle field.
Don't forget to love yourself enough to save your own soul too. Until you can effectively win your own soul, how you can win others?
"When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the LORD thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
2And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people,
3And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them;
4For the LORD your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.
5And the officers shall speak unto the people, saying, What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it.
6And what man is he that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it? let him also go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man eat of it.
7And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her.
8And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren's heart faint as well as his heart."