Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The last day or so, I've been doing some thinking about walking circumspectly and redeeming the time.

Jesus said that He came that we might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly. I'm wracking my brain to find how that is currently being lived out in my life. I'm coming to the conclusion that it is not. I'm driven by the day-to-day demands upon my attention, and the more that I attempt to meet them, the more demands I find. There are expectations I'm trying to meet that others have, all the while trying to live up to my own image of who I should be and what I should do in an attempt to earn the love of those around me. I sleep only when I have to, and I hardly ever just relax (last weekend being the exception).

That doesn't seem abundant to me. That just feels busy.

But that's not the only way that my life has not shown the abundance that Jesus came to bring. Why could only Jesus Christ be the one to enable us to have abundant life? I'm a Christian, I've accepted Jesus as my Savior--it will be abundant in heaven when I have eternal life, right?

Except that Jesus Himself defines eternal life in John 17 as "knowing God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent." It is apparent throughout Scripture that a knowledge of God in this life is possible, so it would follow that it is possible for us to know eternal and abundant life here in the knowledge of Him.

But I don't know that. Or don't remember that, as the case may be? Why? Because I've not been standing in the blood of Christ. God gave me a verse last weekend from 1 John that says that as Jesus is before God, so are we. That's huge. But I haven't been living like that. I've chosen again to live under condemnation--whether Satan's, others', or my own--and not to stand fast in the liberty with which Christ has made me free.

I woke up this morning, thanking God that His mercies are new every morning. I had a meltdown last night that left me feeling like a condemned reject who was just a problem for everyone and a disappointment to God. It's the times when I know that I have sinned that I feel the worst. David cries out in Psalm 51 that his sin is always before Him.

Does walking circumspectly as wise, understanding what the will of the Lord is, as Paul instructs in Ephesians 5 mean that one ought to trust in Him for His mercy so that we can redeem the time? I started thinking about this last night, when I was bemoaning what a waste my day had felt like after I completely bombed it with my attitude and frustration and feelings of guilt in the morning. I stayed there all day, scared to look at God, scared to believe that Pete could still love me if I wasn't trying to make God love me.

Galatians 5 and Christ's words about bringing us abundant life are both passages that I have often associated with grace and the freedom we gain from grace--but grace alone is not enough to make us free, I think. Mercy must walk hand in hand with grace.

An example: Because of God's grace, I knew yesterday that He would still love me. I knew that I was clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and that when God looked at me, I was as Christ is. But I had sinned, and I knew it. The more that I balked about simply confessing my sin and asking God's forgiveness, the more burdened I grew, returning again to the familiar yoke of bondage. "Isn't God's grace enough?" I asked myself. But there is no justification for sin except in the blood of Jesus Christ, and as long as I was trying to cloak it in the grace of God and leave out Jesus, I could not be justified before Him.

It was not until this morning, realizing His mercies were new and remembering how full they are through Jesus' blood, that I was able to confess my sin to Him and begin to walk again, a bit more humbly, in grace.

That was a bit of a rabbit trail to try to say that grace itself does not guarantee me a free ride through life doing what ever I want to do. I think that Christ's words about abundant life are as much about mercy as they are about grace.

Mercy is a gift from God. The Psalmist speaks often of how He trusted in God, and received His mercy. I often don't like mercy as much, though. It's humbling to ask for. Grace says, "I love you even though you have done wrong, and I will still bless you because you are mine in Jesus Christ."

A: I like being loved.
B: I like being accepted when I'm not perfect.
C: I like being blessed.
D: I like knowing that Jesus Christ allows me to be loved and blessed.

But mercy says, "You have done wrong, and I forgive you because of Jesus Christ."

A: I don't want to admit I'm wrong.
B: I don't like accepting forgiveness.
C: I want to earn that forgiveness--not let Jesus take the rap--or the glory.

All of this is circling back to my thoughts on walking circumspectly and redeeming the time because the days are evil.

When I waste time trying to beat around the bush about the wrong I have done or choosing to dwell in condemnation, I am not able to love with God's love, or even accept that He loves me. I return to the yoke of bondage that Paul writes about in Galatians, and I am not even looking for what the will of the Lord is (Eph. 5:17).

I think I don't want to do that anymore. Micah 6:8 explains what the Lord requires of me: to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God. I think He has allowed me to fall so that I might learn to love mercy--not just the mercy that I want to so *graciously* offer (yuck, I *really* don't like me sometimes), but to love the mercy of God, and place my hope and my gratitude only in Jesus Christ for my righteousness.

Hmm... That raises an interesting thought about God's "selfishness" when it comes to His glory... But THAT is for another post.


Anonymous said...

Hey, Kell-Kell. Good post. I'm glad God is leading you and helping you grow in Him, even though you don't deserve the mercy of his forgiveness. I wish I could be more like him. I'm starting a daily Bible time now, that at camp, God spoke to me. God loves me enough and I love Him enough that I want to get to know Him better. He wants me to run into his arms. If you don't mind praying for me, that would be great. I'll pray for you too, if you like. Love ya!!!
The youngest sis.

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