There is Life to Be Had

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Lately, I've been struggling to accept the fact that I *can* live.

Oh, physically, I'm very much alive and kicking (quite literally some days)--but spiritually, I have felt as though life is draining away, day by day, bit by bit. I've attempted a number of solutions:

"Read your Bible more. God wants to spend time with you."
"Listen to your Christian music, rather than the secular stuff you like--it will be more encouraging."
"Surround yourself with Christian friends for good fellowship."

And still, I have sensed the life draining away. "God, I'm reading my Bible, I'm doing everything right...?"

So I went digging for a sin in my life, wondering if there was something keeping me from praising God with my whole heart. As I confessed what God did convict me of, I was still coming up empty.

"God, you told me that You came that I might have life, and have it more abundantly."

I have known that I have been struggling with my humanity. When I go to talk to God, it has been as if there is a wall between us that is made up of a nameless shame that keeps me from approaching His throne. "Kelly, how could you be good enough to talk to Him? Remember that last time you procrastinated in talking to Him? What about your horrible attitude yesterday? You are nothing but DUST, I tell you! You think you can talk to Him?"

This morning, I stumbled across Psalm 104. I didn't want a repeat of yesterday's godless frustration in my workday, so I had gone looking for something of His to think about today.

God started by showing me something of Himself and His beauty:

"Praise the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. He wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind. He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants."

It shouldn't have surprised me that He had found something about Himself that is always true, that whether I felt like praising Him or not, I could actually praise Him factually for His majesty.

I skimmed on for a few seconds, needing to get downstairs so Pete and I could leave for work, and then stopped at

"These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth."

"These" in the passage, refers to all of God's creation--the birds, the animals, the trees, the rivers, the seas. What surprised me about the above passage was the description of their natural response to God's provision for them.

When was the last time I simply "gathered up" what God gave? When He opened His hand to me, have I even allowed myself to accept it, or have I been too proud to be satisfied?

What if He really *is* offering me abundant life, and I have not accepted it? What if He is offering me the love I have longed for, and I have not accepted it?

God gave me a picture several weeks ago during a sermon at a church Pete and I were visiting on our way back home from my parents' house. The more I think about it, the more I see Him defining my heart's desire, meeting my heart's desire, and offering me His overwhelming love and His abundant life outside of the shame that has been weighing me down.

The pastor was preaching about the crucifixion. Same ol', same ol', I figured when he began. I wasn't extremely open to listening, because of course, I've heard it all before. Sure enough, he launched into the same horrid, graphic details about the crucifixion I've always heard, describing Jesus' suffering and death in more gore than I could handle. I tried distracting myself so I didn't vomit, but the Holy Spirit pulled my attention back in before the pastor finished his narrative.

"At this point on the Cross, I'm looking up at Jesus, and my sympathy, my pain for Him is aroused. Jesus! Come down from there! Prove to them all that You are God! Prove that You are who You say You are! You don't have to stay there! You didn't do anything! You don't have to be separated from Your Father! Please, please come down!"

I was tracking right along with him, waiting for the punch about how terrible we should feel because this is what Jesus went through for us and this is what we're to expect as we suffer with Christ.

But he stopped suddenly.

"And then, there is this other horrible part of me that cries out, NO! DON'T COME OFF THAT CROSS!"

The pastor was shouting in anguish now. I was holding back tears of shock.

"Don't come down off that Cross, Jesus! Because if You don't stay there, I won't ever be able to know God! There won't be any justification for me! There won't *be* any propitiation for my sin! Jesus, STAY THERE! Because MY SIN IS NAILED UP THERE WITH YOU..."

I suddenly saw myself for what I really am. I have wanted Jesus to be spared the pain of the Cross with my sympathetic human tendencies, and I have lived trying to bear (or avoid) the guilt and the shame without the Cross. I didn't crucify Him. I wouldn't have wanted Him to die. But though I was in no mob screaming for His death, I, Kelly Anne Langner Sauer, desperately wanted Him to be crucified, because there is no other person who could ever, ever take my guilt and my shame from me as He has. For a brief moment, looking at that Cross, I saw myself as His righteousness as He became my sin.

The grace by which I live must be such a grace. God has opened His hand to me. "You no longer have to live in your shame. I gave you My love."

On the darkest day of all eternity, God defined the desires of my heart and met them in the person and punishment of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

My desire for fellowship with the God of the universe--met, because I have become the righteousness of God in Christ.

My desire to be loved fully and unconditionally--met, and demonstrated in Jesus' laying down His life for me, whom He has called "friend."

My desire to be free to live (even if I'm not perfect)--met, because the grace that covers me is Calvary, and sin no longer has dominion over me by the law.

What kind of righteousness, love, and peace is this?

"May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works--he who looks at the earth, and it trembles, who touches the mountains, and they smoke. I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD."

Isaiah 53 prophesies that Jesus would see the seed of His suffering and be satisfied. I am His seed. The veil has been torn.

God, please... Help me boldly approach Your throne because of Your grace to obtain the mercy You've already shown to me.

Praise the LORD, O my soul. Praise the LORD.


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