The majority of the time my posts are hard to stomach. I often write about getting real. And the reality about getting real is that it means we have to call sin sin.
When we stop to read the scriptures, we see ourselves on the pages. We see the Bible call our sin what it is – destructive and evil.
That can be quite sobering. And depressing.
But I’m not going there today.
In fact, I am swinging back to the other side of the pendulum and considering the mystery that is God’s grace.
I often believe that if I am not fully satisfied with God, then I have failed the faith test. If I cannot always say that my Jesus makes my heart soar no matter the circumstances, then I have failed at being a Christian.
(Note: When I say “Christian”, I don’t mean lukewarm church-attender. I mean full-hearted follower of Christ.)
Lucky for me, I am my biggest critic. Meaning that God is NOT my biggest critic. Meaning that He doesn’t come down on me nearly as hard as I come down on myself.
In fact, just the opposite.
God knows something I rarely remember. He knows that sanctification is a process. He knows that my becoming more like Christ – that my becoming more and more satisfied in Him no matter my circumstances – is a life-long development.
Sometimes I read verses like 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, which say, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,” and I think, “LORD, what a FAILURE I AM!’
I begin to loathe myself. I just don’t measure up to such lofty goals. Yet, I cannot ignore the fact that THIS IS GOD’S WILL FOR ME. I cannot pretend like I don’t need to measure up or that I can’t measure up. Scripture clearly says God wants me to be joyful and prayerful and thankful. And when I am not these things, I feel like an utter failure at being a Christian.
Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Really? Well, what does that mean for me when I don’t feel filled? Am I hungering for lesser things? Am I using lesser things to try to satisfy my appetite? Is there something wrong with my faith? Am I sinning? Is there something wrong with me?
It’s in the midst of these rambling thoughts that the Lord says, “Don’t be so hard on yourself. I am not that hard on you.”
In other words, God knows my heart. He knows I am trying. He knows, despite the fact that I fail a lot, my innermost desire is to obey Him, please Him, and rest in a love relationship with Him.
And like the good Father that He is, He speaks grace to me. He says, “All of these things – being joyful and prayerful and thankful and satisfied in me – all of these things are goals. The process to become these things is just that – a process. And a long one, at that.”
Even Paul, a Super Christian if ever there was one, had to “learn to be content” (Philippians 4:11).
It’s ok if we don’t have it down yet. We aren’t expected to. Well, we might expect ourselves to, but God doesn’t expect us to. And how crazy are we if we expect more of ourselves than God expects of us?
I think if we can say, “I am more joyful/prayerful/thankful/satisfied with God than I was last year,” God is pleased with us. We’re moving in the right direction. Our heart of hearts is longing for Him, and we are looking more and more like Him as time moves on. That’s all He asks of us.
And that’s all we should be asking of ourselves.