Over the past few months the Lord has been teaching me a lot of things. I feel like every new day holds some little nugget that God is showing me. One of the main things God has been teaching me about is His love evidenced in the gospel.
It all started a few weeks back at an RD meeting. Gunner opened up our meeting just to let us share with each other what we were thinking through. I had been thinking through this: something happens to me when I am thrown back into the world of Master’s. My thinking starts to go into overdrive and I get tangled up in all the things I am thinking through. I feel like a robot whose head is about to start spinning around and smoking. I am naturally a deep thinker and overly analytical so between 2 church services on Sunday, 3 chapels a week, a midweek bible study, RA class, MABC classes and assignments, all my meetings, and my own personal time in the Word and study, I begin thinking so much about so many different things that I just get weary. I’ve been taught a lot of good truth and so I find myself constantly battling with my mind to think on what is true and best and wisest instead of own natural, foolish thoughts. It was to the point where I would lay awake in bed at night until 2 or 3 in the morning just thinking through things. I remember this from college and found that now that I am back it’s only gotten worse and it was really starting to rob me of my joy in almost everything I was doing (which I knew was wrong so I starting thinking through why i was over thinking things….).
I had also just finished reading “The Peacemaker” by Ken Sande and found the chapter on idols to be particularly devastating. I had to take a break from reading to list off all of the sins I saw in my life that were fueled by so many different idols and passions. I at least knew to turn to the Lord and ask forgiveness but I felt like a total failure and all the sin I saw continued to haunt me. So I walked into that RD meeting feeling very joyless and defeated.
After talking about it for awhile, Gunner said, “My happiest days are the days I wake up and when I’m in the shower I’m thinking…I’m forgiven. I’m forgiven. I’m forgiven.” As the reality of that hit me tears started to stream down my cheeks. I am forgiven. Every idol I worship, every thing I seek satisfaction in, every manipulative ploy I’ve made, every wrong motive I have, every thoughtless and careless word I’ve spoken, every under performance in my job, every wrong notion have about God, every false word I’ve taught, every time I’ve preferred myself above others, every foolish emotion, every command of Scripture I don’t fully understand or obey, every single failure in me has been forgiven. And the acceptance I have in God through Christ is an acceptance that I will never find outside of my relationship with God. That gave me a freedom that I hadn’t felt in a few months. I finally felt like I didn’t have to make everything right for all the ways I continually fall short.
I realized that a lot of my thinking came from a good understanding of God’s goodness in His commandments mixed with my sinful perspective. You see, I understand that God has set His commandments up for our good. I believe that as the Creator, He knows the best and wisest way for us to live. And because He is infinitely delightful and in Him is no evil, it is good for us to be like Him so we should pursue obedience and Christlikeness wholeheartedly knowing that there is blessing in the path of obedience and we will reap what we sow. But being the comfort lover that I am, I wanted to ensure that I would live the most godly life so I would not feel the negative effects of sin. In that, I made a comfortable life the end goal and began to beat myself up when I saw my sin effect myself and others and “forgot” or ignored that Christ’s blood on the cross purchased for me a “yes” to all of God’s promises, and that God has promised that goodness and mercy will hunt me down like a highway patrol officer all the days of my life, and that God uses all the circumstances of our life for our good, and that God already gave me His Son and isn’t about to withhold any good thing from me now.
Then I started reading Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book, “Because He Loves Me” (which I highly recommend) and am still working through it. And I started to become convinced that it is important for me to understand God’s love and begin to trust it and rest in it fully, the way I rest my full weight on the bed I sleep on at night, trusting that it is reliable, strong, and will be able to uphold me. So I began to pray that through this season God will convince me of His love.
I’m still praying that God will convince me of His love. But I’m slowly being freed from looking so introspectively at my sin and toiling so hard to live a more godly life and feeling like it all comes down to me at the end of the day and if I don’t work hard enough God will discipline me by allowing me to reap what I sow (which I really view as punishment, not loving discipline from a perfectly wise Father). I hope the gospel will impact my life more and more and a joy and fullness of life will flow out of that. There’s a lot more to be said, but this post isn’t really complete because God’s work in my heart isn’t really complete. Hopefully I will be able to share more of what I’ve learned in the coming months. For now I’m just trying to remember that I’m forgiven. But I’ll leave you with a quote from Elyse’s new book that says everything in my heart better than I ever could:
“It’s essential for us to think about God’s love today because it is only his love that can grant us the joy that will strengthen our hearts, the courage that will embolden us in our fight against sin, and the assurance that will enable us to open our lives to him so that he might deal powerfully with our unbelief and idolatry. If we’re not completely convinced that his love is ours right now- fully and unalterably ours- we’ll always hide in the shadows, focusing on our performance, fearing his wrath. Prayer will be hard because we won’t want to approach him or be transparent before him. Witnessing will be a chore, for who would want to talk to others about a god who is demanding, angry, or cold? If we don’t consciously live in the light of his love, the gospel will be secondary, virtually meaningless, and Jesus Christ will fade into insignificance. Our faith will become all about us, our performance, and how we think we’re doing, and our transformation will be hindered.
What must we remember? Simply that God loves us so much that he crushed his Son so that we might be his and that this love isn’t based on our worthiness or performance. His love doesn’t fluctuate from day-to-day. It was settled the moment he set it upon you before the foundation of the world.”
Amen and Amen.