Renewing. Refreshing. Recommitment. Recharging. Rewarding. Restarting. Reviving.
Growing up in the church I have heard a lot of ‘re’ words and have witnessed a lot of people (myself included) trying to ‘re’ something into their spiritual lives. There was always this feeling that we weren’t quite living up to something. Many of those ‘re’ words left me feeling like I was just not doing enough to live up to the wonders and power of a truly close walk with Jesus.
I wanted a close walk with Him. I wanted to experience the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through me. I wanted intimacy with Jesus. I wanted to know His voice and be so sure of His calling. I wanted to live an overcoming life. I wanted to live in revival. I knew I wasn’t. At least not in the way I felt I was supposed to be. Certainly not in the way I assumed others were.
So I doubled up my efforts. I read my Bible more. I prayed and journalled longer. I got rid of music I assumed would be too unholy. I became certain of what I was against: I didn’t smoke, drink or chew and didn’t go out with guys that do. I made sure I volunteered at church for everything I could. I went up for every altar call if I thought it might in any way apply to me, even if it was a stretch. Yet I didn’t feel any more revived or closer to Jesus. I felt more aware of how far I was from where I wanted to be.
Over the last 11 years I have started to realize that the problem was that I was trying to make it happen. I was the one working to earn approval and favour. I was doing what I thought I needed to do so that God would see me as faithful and would maybe, just maybe, decide I could be one of the special ones in the inner circle who got to live in the power of His Holy Spirit. I was trying to EARN God’s favour and approval. I was trying to EARN the gift of the Holy Spirit. I was trying to PROVE I was committed enough to be trusted by God and used by Him. It was all about what I could do.
In the last 9 years my need to prove my commitment and EARN God’s approval has started to subside. Becoming a mother has given me a fresh perspective of how God must love me. When my littles have a bad day, seem to run head long into the boundaries we have established for them and can’t find their way to even token politeness I may be disappointed, even frustrated, but I would never disown them, ship them off or give them away. I don’t stop loving them. My love for them doesn’t even lessen. If anything, once the dust settles, my heart aches for them because I know what it’s like to feel like you just can’t get it right.
There are moments on days like that when I see in my children’s eyes the question of what they might have to do to earn back my love. They don’t realize at that moment that they may need to mend fences, but they haven’t lost my love at all. It is my love and commitment to them that makes sure those boundaries stay firm for their protection.
When I have those moments with my children I pull them close and remind them that there is nothing they could ever do to make me love them more. And there is nothing they could ever do to make me love them less. I may not like what they do, but I will ALWAYS love them because they are mine.
In moments like that tears well up in my eyes because I begin to realize that my Father sees me the same way. He loves me. Full stop. Do I believe Him?
In the book “Believing God” author Beth Moore asks if we believe in God or if we believe God. There is a big difference between the two. I can believe in God, but not believe He loves me. I can believe in God and not believe He is pleased with me. I can believe in God and not believe He has met all my needs according to His riches in glory. I can believe in God and not believe that the gifts of His Holy Spirit have been given to me. I can believe in God and not believe Him when He says He will never leave me nor forsake me. I can believe in God and not believe Him when He says that the same power that raised Christ from the dead is alive and working in me.
When I realize that I must choose to believe God at His word then all my DOING is revealed for what it is: my lousy, pathetic attempts to bribe God into accepting me on my terms instead of me receiving His love on His terms.
All of my work to have renewal, revival, recharging, recommitment, revision starts to be revealed as my attempt to earn belonging and love. I can’t earn what God has already freely given me! I have to believe Him and take Him at His Word. I am my Beloved’s and He is mine. I can stop doing and start being His daughter.
Photo: Courtesy of Pink Sherbet Photography , Some rights reserved
Good post. Grace always comes first – grace saves us, grace sanctifies us. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks. Grace is an amazing gift.
And when you stop trying to renew, remake, refresh, revive, etc. yourself, after a while you notice that you’re being renewed, remade, refreshed, and revived more than you can imagine. It is God’s work, not ours.