This post has been coming together in my mind for several weeks now. I have known the Lord wanted me to be vulnerable about this...mainly because it humbles me, and forces me to face the reality of my sinfulness. This is a real life story about struggle, and grace. So I am taking off from Friday Letters to be open and honest with you in hopes that this encourages you in some small way.
In the past 6 months I began to notice a pattern in my time with the Lord. I was reading my Bible, memorizing Scripture, praying... but doing it all out of duty. It was like a list of chores that I was seeking to complete in order to appease my master and not upset Him. I could tell every girl I disciple until I was blue in the face that our salvation comes by FAITH not by works... yet I was beginning to notice I was living a life entirely motivated by my works. Crazy, coming from someone who has a job in full time ministry.
I was seeking God out of shame and guilt. By this I mean that I did genuinely have a desire to know the Lord, yet the driving force in my relationship with Jesus was the desire to make him "happy" with me. I read, memorized, and prayed so that I would be on good terms with the Lord... this began a cycle in which no normal human can stay afloat. You try to be a "good Christian"... you begin to slack off and fail, the guilt and shame step in, and then you find yourself "seeking" the Lord even more fervently in order to make up for your slacking... and on and on the story goes. Is this really how our life before our Heavenly Father is to be lived?
Not at all.
And I knew this. I simply could not stop the cycle.
I recently read an article on the Desiring God blog that posed this question..."Do you think of God as mainly happy or mad?" As I continued to read further in the article I was completely floored... The writer went on to say, "How you think about God will affect how you relate to him. If he's mainly disappointed, you'll avoid him because of shame and insecurity. If he's too busy, you won't want to bother him. If he's angry, you'll stay away because of fear. But what would happen in your life if you knew, truly knew, that God is profoundly happy?"
Wow. This struck me so deeply as I began to process for myself. I was viewing the Lord as an earthly parent. Do not get me wrong, I LOVE my earthly parents, but there are times I can think of that they have been deeply disappointed with me, too busy for me, or angry with me. I was carrying over this reality and applying it to my Lord... it was tearing apart my relationship with Jesus. I had gotten to a point that my Bible was not opened outside our weekly small group or Sunday gathering. I felt as if I was a disappointment to the Lord, because I could not "keep up" in my pursuit of him.
Does this all make sense? I hope it does. I found myself sinking in shame, because I was unable to be the "perfect Christian" or even just a consistent Christian...I was defeated, unmotivated, and numb in my walk with the Father.
BUT LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT MY JESUS.
My Jesus does not love me with a love that is unpredictable, or sporadic. His love is unchanging, and unconditional. He loves me despite my constant sin and faults... in fact, he expects me to be stubborn, to wander, to stray. He is faithful even when I am unfaithful. (2 Timothy 2:13) James 1:17 says, "Every good gift and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." The Lord's love shows no variation or change based on our behavior. WHAT A RELIEF. I have tears streaming down my face as I just rest in that.
The Lord is not angry with us every time we sin. This sounds a little crazy even as I type it. But He isn't and this is HUGE for us to understand in order to get to a place where we can truly lay down shame and pick up JOY! So how can this be?
Jesus canceled our sin at the cross. Yes, he hates our sin, yet he paid for the debt of the sin of those who trust in him and turn in faith from their wickedness. (Isaiah 53:4-6). So we can rest in the fact that every time we find ourselves slipping back into our sin (which will happen daily) the Lord is not wagging his disapproving finger down at us. Our God is happy, our righteousness is secure as his children. Our status as his child does not change based on our performance. HALLELUJAH!
Our God is HAPPY. He does not have to be appeased, or satisfied. He desires for his joy to be made complete in us. (John 17:13)
So I am choosing joy over shame today. Because my God is happy, he has adopted me as his child despite my sinfulness. He calls me his own, and his holy wrath no longer rests on my shoulders.
"I will glory in my Redeemer, whose priceless blood had ransomed me, mine was the sin that drove the bitter nails, and hung him on that judgement tree. I will glory in my Redeemer, who crushed the power of sin and death, my only Savior before the Holy Judge, the Lamb who is my righteousness, the Lamb who is my righteousness.
Choose Joy over Shame. Shame is where Satan wants us to stay, rolling around in our guilt and fear (the unhealthy kind) of the Lord... so let us all together say no to shame, and rest in the JOY that is ours in Christ. He is pleased with us, and loves us... no matter what.
How do you find yourself viewing Jesus?
Join me as I link up with A Harvest of Blessing for a Jack of all Trades! So fun and a place for everyone to be encouraged and loved!