This year has been somewhat of a benchmark for me personally. Never before have I been so aware of God’s grace toward me. Never before have I had such a deep stirring of passion and love for Jesus Christ. And consequently, never before have I felt such a deep awareness of my failures. Deep revelation of grace brings with it deep awareness of depravity. I feel like a manic mess. On the one hand, I am happy beyond measure over the grace of God in my life. On the other, I am laid low at how undeserving I am of God’s mercy.
“Grace, grace, God’s grace; Grace that will pardon and cleanse within! Grace, grace, God’s grace; Grace that is greater than all our sins!” On some mornings I sing this to the top of my lungs as I drive. On others I can scarcely say a solitary word to God and feel more like Peter when Jesus helped him get a miracle catch of fish: “Get away from me Lord!” (Luke 5:8)
I’ve wrestled with this. The concepts of joy and happiness battling with the sorrow of seeing my sinfulness and knowing what it did to Christ on the cross. When you hurt the ones you love, you don’t often see how you did it until God begins peeling the layers away, allowing you to see it blow by blow, one offense at a time, until you see the house of pain you have built. I love Jesus, and I alone murdered him, blow by blow. “Against you, you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” (Psalm 51:4)
You can’t keep living as a murderer because God has declared you a co-heir with Christ. You are a son, not a slave, not a murderer.
But you can’t live there. You cannot live as a murderer. I preached a message recently about living as an heir. Paul instructed the Galatians to stop living as slaves and start living as heirs. You can’t keep living as a murderer because God has declared you a co-heir with Christ. You are a son, not a slave, not a murderer. That’s what faith in Christ accomplishes. Faith is the vessel for God’s grace to be applied to the life of the murderer, transforming him in one instant, into a son, adopted by grace!
But oh how I remember the murderer… reliving it… beaten down… condemned… and the cycle repeats.
But God reminds me. “You’re my son. Rise up!”
Were it not for the Spirit of Jesus within who constantly cries out, “Abba! Father!” I would remain in the squalor. Grace calls me upward and I follow, captured by the beauty and love of Christ.
Yes, Christ has set me free. Free to follow him without the condemnation of one who trusts in their own merit and ability. I fall, and Christ is there to pick me up. They fall and are left to get up on their own. That is our curse after all – left on our own strength and sweat to survive because we chose our own path, and not God’s.
That is why the Lord is my Shepherd. I’ll never be without the things I need. If I need rest, he’ll provide a place and a time to lay my head down. When I need calm and quiet, he provides it. And when it’s time for me to fight for righteousness he provides his power and strength, for his name’s sake, not mine.
Because He is my Shepherd, I can look death in the face defiantly. When I walk with him, no force of evil can overtake me because he fends them off with his staff. This brings great comfort to me because the fight is his, not mine.
In fact, even the presence of my enemies cannot break the fellowship between my Lord and me. Though they do their worst, if I remain with him, his Spirit fills me to overflowing, and it reaches those around me, testifying of God’s goodness.
And I know that God’s goodness and mercy will be constant in my life because He is faithful to me. His faithfulness to me will usher me into his presence, and from there I will never depart. I’ll chase after him, and find him and stay with him forever.
This is where God is leading me. It hasn’t been without its difficulty, but mostly because I stray. I’m learning that his yoke is easy and his burden is light only when I am walking with him. If I walk apart from him, it all depends on me. If I walk with him I find that he has taken the brunt of the load. This is why the Gospel is good news!
Glory to God in the highest!