It is so easy to be led off track…
Down the road of doing what’s right.
Following the rules.
Doing good works.
Volunteering at church.
Helping a neighbor.
Taking time to invest in our children.
And I am not claiming that these things are bad.
The problem comes when all these things become ends in themselves.
They are failing to be animated by the secure love of God flowing through me and pouring out into others.
I begin storing up a list of “good works” to show God to offset the offense of my sinfulness, and in the midst of my working I lose my connection to the one who strengthens and upholds me.
When I grow weary or fail- if I am disconnected from Him- I fall into despair.
I am seeking the approval of God in the way I seek the approval of man- through doing things that they will approve of so that I might gain their affection/acceptance.
This is a habit that I find so hard to break.
I am constantly falling back into this cycle and then emerging out only to get caught once again.
It is hard, in the midst of my daily work, the ups and downs of my life, to remember that God remains constant in his affection.
He longs to be near me, to walk with me, to guide me into truth and broad, peaceful places.
I start trying to get there on my own- and sometimes I don’t even realize what’s happening in the moment- but I see the evidence of it when my sin leads me to discouragement, shame, and feeling sorry for myself instead of driving me into the arms of my Savior.
I was reading in Romans this morning, and I felt drawn to Psalm 16. For many years I carried Psalms 16:11 in my car.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
My friends, this is something that I desperately need to remember.
I forget so easily that He loved me even before I realized I was a sinner in need of redemption. He bridged that gap and made a way for me to know Him.
No, I don’t deserve it. But through the blood of Jesus Christ the fire of the wrath of God has been quenched. I am received as family.
Truly, what always brings me out of these times of melancholy is one simple truth- the Christian life should be marked by joy (and I see the absence of it in my own life).
We should be so filled with the love of God that we draw attention simply from the peace that lives in secure knowledge that we are infinitely loved and accepted and can do NOTHING to change it.
I want to live like that!
(Aside: My Dad has repeatedly talked to me about the word “should.” And I noticed that I used it twice in the past several sentences. Should is a word of bondage in many cases- God establishes us- this is a work that He delights to do if we only trust Him to do it. So it is not I, but Christ living in me that accomplishes this work.)
It is not just a smile I paste on for church or saying the “right things” when I am with Christian friends- but it is an abiding peace and security in the arms of my Savior.
It is an anchor in my soul.
I can get caught up in saying the right things without feeling them deep down in my bones.
So my daily prayer is- O Lord, please help me to remember how much I am loved by you- and to share that love with others.
That is what makes our relationship with God so extraordinary. Not only does God love us, He made a way for us to draw near to Him through the blood of His Son. He allowed His Son to suffer and die for us so that we might be redeemed and live eternally.
We hear it so often the words can become so meaningless. I want it to soak in. O Lord, make those words new to me! Fill me with joy in the truth of all you have done for me.
And even as I wrapped up this post, my daughter asked to read her devotions for today from Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids. The Title is “My Promise”, and the verse Matthew 28:20-
You can be sure I am with you always…
Oh dear friends, that these words would bring us comfort and peace, and not fear.
Let us pray for each other that we may hold tightly to this truth in the daily battle with our own sinfulness. God loves us through all the successes and failures, and compassionately and lovingly longs to draw alongside us, and whisper words of love and comfort into our deepest pain and sorrow.
He binds up the wounded and is close to the broken-hearted.
Oh Lord, precious Savior and God, forgive me for distancing myself from you in my sin. For giving the lie purchase that your love depends on my obedience. Give me the courage to be vulnerable and honest when times are hard and my knees are wobbly. Renew my mind and help me to guard against the schemes of the enemy. May my sinfulness draw me nearer to you as it reminds me of how necessary you are to life- as essential as breath. I love you, thank you for first loving me. In Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.