How readily are we willing to believe that grace is actually free and that God always welcomes back His prodigal sons and daughters who’ve strayed?
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve screwed up. When I think of Peter asking Jesus how many times he should forgive someone who sins against him and suggesting 7 times (Matthew 18), I wonder if Jesus chuckled on the inside because of how often our Lord must forgive us. When I read through some of the Old Testament history and see the Israelites making the same mistakes over and over and over again, I get so frustrated! They saw the very power of God in a pillar of fire, in splitting the Red Sea, in defeating all the nations who occupied the Promised Land, in a cloud of smoke covering a mountain they feared to approach! “What is wrong with these people??” I’ve wondered.
I daresay it’s not much different than what is wrong with myself.
The past couple months in my personal life have been a busy blur (you may have noticed poor Kendra has had to pick up my slack in not writing as often… I’ve not been a good partner). I started a full-time job, I moved into a new apartment 5 weekends ago, I’ve been travelling for the past 3 weekends, and every aspect of my life feels overwhelming. Someone will ask something as simple as, “Hey, did you go buy new work shoes yet?” And I want to collapse. I haven’t bought new shoes, because I haven’t made time for it and I’m waiting to make sure my finances have balanced out between moving expenses, needing to survive and eat food expenses, and then I’m behind on keeping my budget balanced because I’m trying to unpack and have a full-time job and a social life and… and… and… and now there’s a collapsed puddle of Amy on the ground.
Did you see anything in that crazy, rushed paragraph about prioritizing time with God? Yeah, there’s a reason for that. I haven’t. In all the setting up of a new job and a new place to live, a new routine hasn’t included regular daily time with my Lord. And when that doesn’t happen, I feel guilty. And I allow that guilt to multiply until it weighs me down. Then I feel like God is mad at me and wouldn’t want me to pray or read His Word or even sometimes go to church.
I know that these are tactics of the enemy to get me to isolate myself. When I’m isolated, I’m weaker. We all are. When I’m disconnected from the Vine who gives life, I’m weaker. This is not an accident; this is an attack. And I know this. But that guilt still speaks louder than the truth sometimes. Or I am listen more to the guilt than the truth, because the Truth seems too good to be true. But the truth is I’ve been given grace by God; and I can’t take that grace away from myself.
And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. Romans 8:10
So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:15-16
God sent Him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that He could adopt us as His very own children. And because we are His children, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are His child, God made you His heir. Galatians 4:5-7
There is a newer song out there that always goes right to my heart. I think it’s because my Lord knows I struggle with thinking of myself as His daughter instead of as His servant and follower. If you don’t know the song “No Longer Slaves,” please follow this link. Let the words take over your mind in a fresh way. Believe that they are true. The Truth, the Word of God, that is our sword, and that is how we fight back when the enemy attacks.
I had to read through those verses several times before the truth could speak to me louder than the guilt. I’m no longer a slave to guilt. I’m not a slave to fear. I’m not a slave to my sin or my backsliding. God gives me so much grace; I do not get to decide that I’m not worthy of that grace. I’m not perfect, but I am a redeemed child of God. And no scheme nor entity can take that away. Ever.