He Will Not Rest

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.
~2 Timothy 1:9

I've been thinking about the redeeming love of God in the last couple of days. A couple of weeks ago, I got a letter from a friend. She shared:

As a child of God, you stand in another’s place – in the place of One who is whole acceptable. And only on His merits are you received. You are given a gift, a ‘new man’ and as it’s a gift you are prohibited from taking the credit for it, and as your acceptance wasn’t measured by anything other than another’s gift, you can’t start measuring it by the good the ‘new man’ does. It would be rather like Rembrandt giving you a gift of one of his paintings and then you claiming to others that you’d painted it yourself. First of all, Rembrandt wouldn’t get the honor due him and second you wouldn’t be appreciating his love for you in giving you such a priceless gift.

If the love and acceptance comes after the gift, it wouldn’t be a gift, but as you’d earned it it would be a reward. Then you’d have a reason to be worried – could you keep the behaviour up because if you couldn’t then the love and acceptance would go.

I tend to be the kind of person who wants to do the right thing and have the right heart attitude about it all the time (i.e., I like to be perfect). But the last several months, I have not had that problem. Being perfect, that is. In fact, it's been quite the opposite. I've been rather a mess, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically. I haven't known how to talk to God, or how to believe in Him, or how to accept His love. It's easy to say that I want faith like a child, but not so easy to come by it when I'm trying to be perfect and perfectly failing.

Doubting God's love puts the Cross into question, and turns my focus from the grace I know I have through Christ to the shame and condemnation for struggling at all. But this time, I don't want to settle for a "quick fix." I can look objectively at the truth that God loves me, as I can look objectively at the truth that Pete loves me. But in knowing God, I want to understand that He loves me. I want to believe it with all my heart. I want to stake my life on it. It's an odd sort of faith, I think. If He's God, and He truly does want a relationship with me, and if faith is the gift of God and I'm worthless and saved by grace, then He *will* come for me, won't He? He *will* bring me to the other side of this fire of my doubts and my struggle and He'll enable me to accept His love with all of my heart, won't He?

God has simply asked me to wait. And I don't like waiting. I don't like being in pain, wanting the joy and fulfillment of abundant life and looking like an imperfect mess as I wait for Him to do His work in my life. As I look at myself, though, I’ve discovered this wild hope inside me that God really is good, that He is perfectly sovereign, that He will provide, and that He truly loves me, no matter what I do. I've trembled on the edge of despair for weeks on end, but never climbed down it. I've known mentally the truth of the Cross for years. But to live it--to live a life forgiven, free, abundant, completely covered in the grace of God--what does that mean? What does it look like? I have rarely, if ever seen it. If I could see myself as God says He sees me, with my sins nailed to the Cross and my ragged works replaced with the righteousness of Christ, and live in the light of that vision...

Nearly every time Pete and I have been to church since we got married, we have taken communion. Our pastors typically preach that we should "examine ourselves" before we take communion, to confess any sin and come holy to the communion table. God reconstructed that Corinthians passage for me with the image of a small screaming child in church one Sunday. I couldn't believe that the parents didn't take the child from the sanctuary. He was distracting, and every screech destroyed the "reverence" of the room.

"Who are you, Kelly, to decide what reverence is? Are you holy?"

God then gave me an image of myself before His throne, a helpless, squalling, antsy child being held in the arms of Jesus as He smiled at me because His Son was holding me. "You don't know what's right or holy now, but I do. Because of Jesus, you have communion with Me. Come to My table. You have My smile."

Another friend gave me a verse from Ruth that brought me to tears because I remembered, and realized the truth of God's redeeming love for me:

Then she said, “Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter…”

I don't get it. But I think His love really is THAT BIG to redeem me.


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