What if…

What if I am fooling myself when I say that God’s great grace covers all my sins; that He understands; that my sins are precisely the reason Christ came to earth, suffered and died a horrible death on the cross? What if all of that were true, but my sins, be they ever so slight in my own eyes, really did matter and really would be held before me on the day of judgment? How would I need to change my living to bring it into accordance with the truth I know and hold to be my guiding, foundational belief?

This is a sobering thought. I am guilty of taking gross advantage of God’s grace every time I allow myself to cater to the flesh; ick! This challenge to change the very fiber of my thought process is impossible to manage on my own. Why would I ever think I could do it without daily grace, daily mercy, daily long-suffering on God’s behalf. What foolish thoughts I entertain when I suppose to do anything without God’s assisting spirit to lead me and guide my feet, be they the steps of a wandering mind or the physical feet upon which I stand. It is no wonder that I am weary and out of living energy! I cannot even do the most natural of all things, teaching, for example, without God.

This is an even more sobering thought. Is part of my current struggle based on my attempt to do this outside of God’s assistance? Am I only giving head space to God without letting my soul be moved and my actions be intended for Him? Is there a point to which I can look back and say, “Ah, that is where I left God behind!”?

Reading Romans 2 without turning the lens toward myself is a fruitless effort. If I am not willing to judge myself by the measure of these words then I truly have no right to judge anyone else by them; this is a big “ouch!” statement.

Holy Spirit, help me hear You, help me obey all of Your nudgings, peel back the layers of my soul so that Your light can shine again through me.

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The hard path to joy

From “One Thousand Blessings” by Ann Voskamp:

“How does it save the world to reject unabashed joy when it is joy that saves us? Rejecting joy to stand in solidarity with the suffering doesn’t rescue the suffering. The converse does.”

Joy, gratitude, thankfulness, these are the lost graces that will guide me home to a richer life in Christ. Joy for what is in the midst of what is not. Gratitude for what I have when I think I’m empty. Thankfulness for unthankful truths. These are the habits I need to develop.

Voskamp says that the fall was based on greed; for all that they had, Adam and Eve believed the lie that God was withholding fullness of joy from them. This is the world’s message, that if I only, then I would. This lie cuts through to the heart of my sin: the more I covet what I do not have, the less I am able to live in the fullness of what God has for me. What will I choose? To acquire for myself, or to receive from God?

May these questions form my thinking and living in the year that is.

Barb

January 3

Well, I didn’t spend the first hour of my day in the Word this morning; instead, I cleaned up and got dressed so that Jim, my husband, could take me to a doctor’s appointment.
I broke my tibial plateau on November 30th while showing off my balance beam prowess to my third-graders.., “pride goeth before a fall…” and I have been on crutches and in a cast for 6 weeks.
Today I learned that even though the bone has (thankfully) healed, I need an additional two weeks of no work so that my leg can regain its strength with the help of physical therapy. Then I get to have surgery for a torn ACL and meniscus.

I like to give, I don’t like to receive. I’m independent and hate asking for help. Apparently, it was my time to learn about limitations (I’m not used to them) and humility (again). Our neighbors and church friends have been wonderful with meals, house-cleaning, and baby-sitting as I have healed. Now I have an opportunity to rest even more, knowing that my class will survive for another two weeks without me. I also have the opportunity to listen, really listen, to others’ wisdom and submit to orders that I don’t like at all.

What have I learned? That God is in control, truly in control, all of the time. That being served is far more difficult than serving. That I cannot live in isolation; even though I find it a very comfortable place to hang around in. That being weak makes way for not just God, but other people in your life to be strong for you. Have I enjoyed these lessons? Not particularly, but I’m willing to continue embracing them because I have no idea what God has around life’s next corner for me; I’m pretty certain it won’t be boring, however!

“His grace is sufficient for me”
“When I am weak, then He is strong; His power is perfected in my weakness”

Oh, the depth of God’s mercy and grace; how can we measure it? His mercies are everlasting and His grace covers my failures. He is good, at all times, in all circumstances, God is good. Where would I be without the goodness of God’s love; lost in my sins, consumed with darkness, seeking my own will and pleasures.

Thank you Heavenly Father for Your truth that leads me back to you. Keep me in your presence today. Guide and guard my thoughts. Keep me from myself and my selfish ways. Thank you for your love and mercy; cover me with grace today in all things.