As I grow into my role on staff at Torch, every now and again, I find something new on my plate. This month, it's blogging. :) Our website's been under construction for awhile, and now that it's (mostly) finished, there are all sorts of new features, including a pastor's blog. I've been asked to contribute, and this week, my first post went up.
Let me tell you - blogging for someone else's blog is challenging! :) Writing for our church blog is way different than just coming here to my virtual "room" and sharing my heart. But it was a really good stretch for my shepherding skills and my writing.
And since it's all I've got right now - here it is. :)
Stay Dependent On Your King
Have you ever gotten to the end of your day, only to look back and realize that you were pretty much the worst version of yourself you could have possibly been?
- Maybe you snapped at people left and right, for no particular reason, or over-reacted to situations that would have gone better if you’d just taken a minute to think (or to take a deep breath) before dealing with them
- Maybe you cut someone off in traffic, or left that file on your desk at home in spite of the fact that you were supposed to give a big presentation - on all the info in that folder
- Maybe the printer jammed (again) and you swore in front of your boss - who isn’t a believer.
Whatever it was - the sun’s going down, and all you want is a do-over. You know you’re not going to get it, but in the midst of all the guilt you feel over the myriad of ways in which you’ve screwed up, you’re resolute: tomorrow will go better. You will make better choices; you will keep your temper; you will get it right. And maybe, somehow, it will make up for today...
Except that it won’t.
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” - Isaiah 30:15 (NIV)
Suddenly, that resolution you just made seems a little ... well, ridiculous. Because honestly, without His help, there isn’t a whole lot of hope that tomorrow will go much better. Most of today went the way it did because you weren’t depending on Him; you were doing it on your own, and it didn’t work. You weren’t quiet, you didn’t trust Him, you felt guilty (but you didn’t repent - you didn’t do a 180 in your heart or with your actions), and you weren’t even slightly at rest. You were anxious and tense; your tone of voice was sharp when you spoke. You were - to sum it up - knee-deep in sin for most of the day.
Trying to do better might seem like the right thing to do, but the truth of the matter is, it’s not going to go any better tomorrow than it was today if you don’t get some help. No matter how genuinely you want to go into tomorrow representing Jesus - the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, it’s not going to happen if you try to do it on your own.
So what do you do?
Well, first, you repent for your sin, and admit that you can’t save yourself. Let’s look at that verse again, this time from the Message paraphrase:
“Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves. Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me - the very thing you’ve been unwilling to do.” - Isaiah 30:15b (The Message)
Did you catch that? Your salvation requires you to turn back to God and stop your ridiculous efforts to save yourself.
The Bible says: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” - Ephesians 2:8-10
It is by grace you have been saved, through faith... not by the things you do. Better still - the very faith you have in His grace? Even that isn’t yours; God gave you that, too! Your salvation is completely a gift, and all you had to do was ask for it. It wasn’t free - it was incredibly costly - but it was given to you as a gift, completely paid for, when you asked for it.
Now as Ephesians 2:10 points out, God does have things for you to do. Being kind to your coworkers, modeling a godly character in front of your kids, and living an upright lifestyle on campus are all important - but doing those things in love and obedience doesn’t save you. Jesus does. Did. Is. Will. Salvation and sanctification (becoming like the One who saves you) go hand in hand - but you have to stay dependent on Him. Jesus promised, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.” (John 15:3-4)
Stay dependent on your King.
Cease striving, beloved. Be still, and know that He is God. (Psalm 46:10a) He is sovereign; He is your King. And as your King, He tells you: “In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength.” Don’t allow yourself to be counted among those who “would have none of it.” And if those five words convict you, then ask yourself:
- What is it that keeps me from repenting of my sin? (Is it my pride? My stubbornness? Too much self-reliance?)
- What keeps me from resting in the knowledge that it is by grace that I have been saved? (Do I still feel like I need to prove my worth somehow to God?)
- What is filling my life with noise, drowning out the still, quiet whisper of His voice to my heart? (Am I spending too much time watching movies, or reading? Is my schedule so full that I don’t have time to simply stop and wait on Him to speak to me?)
- What is keeping me from completely trusting Him? (Am I afraid that He will let me down in some way? Or am I afraid of what people will think if I follow Him more openly than I do?)
Take some time today and wrestle with those questions. You might be surprised by some of the answers. You might even already know them. But once you’ve gone there, all that’s left to do is to tell Him, and to settle down in complete dependence on Him, putting your faith in His incredible, unending, limitless, and amazing grace.