Monday, June 18, 2012

I may NEVER get it right

Isn't it funny when you don't even know you were thinking something, or letting an idea roll around in your brain and God points it out?

No, it really isn't funny ha-ha.  It could be funny in a satiric or ironic way, but definitely not funny ha-ha.  It happens all the time.  Like yesterday, for instance, sitting in church.  Then this morning, reading my Bible.  Then this afternoon, when I was on the phone with my friend.

Apparently, I suffer from the spiritual disease called "legalism".  Accept the only person I hold to high standards is myself.  Well, ok, I'm not the ONLY person (my kids get it too, see here), but I am primarily the biggest target of my Pharisaical-self.  I compare how good I was yesterday to how bad I am today.  Sometimes, the scales of self-justice level out and I'm relieved to find I was relatively as good (or as bad) as I was the day before.  Unfortunately, I want to be good all the time.  I want to be "on" for God all the time.  When I'm not, insert lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth and a few hours spent on the torture wheel of guilt and shame, like Martin Luther, until he went nuts.

So, here I am yesterday, sitting in my fold-out chair in a funky and very cool, contemporary Christian service we've been attending.  The pastor is preaching about acceptance as part of a sermon series called R.E.A.L. (as revealed in the Book of Ruth) and he points out that we all have things we "define" ourselves with.  In the case of Ruth - she was a Moabitess.  In the case of the Woman at The Well, she was a social outsider with more than questionable morals.  Then he starts talking about how he used to avoid calling himself a pastor because he wasn't comfortable preaching; then on to define himself further as a black preacher so he could stay in his comfort zone of preaching in a black church.  But where God put him was preaching in a mostly white church in Houston, Texas. His point?

The ways we define ourselves (and others) are really limiters. 

The Lord does not put limits on His Children.  He loves and accepts them unconditionally, good or bad, when we are covered by the blood of Christ.  He has great and marvelous plans for us, but when we get scared, we seek out comfort.  Those definers/limiters/comforters we cling to prevent us from accepting ourselves (and others) like God does because God's level of acceptance makes us uncomfortable.  He scares us.  Fear starts to rule the roost. 

I've learned over the last 100 days what fear looks, sounds and acts like.  Yet, it still takes reminders that I am not yet cured of the disease of self-focused legalism.  That fear-borne disease holds me back from all The Lord has for me.  God doesn't seek to hold me back, in fact, He is patiently waiting for me to get off my sick bed and dance for joy in His Name.  Look at all He has done for us!  Why shouldn't I be expecting big things!?!?

Here is the real heart of all of this is: God does not limit me, He defines me.

I may never get that right.  I might always struggle with the thought that I'm not good enough, or smart enough or educated enough to be used by God for really big things.  I may continue to have bad days, right after good ones and get on my self-made torture wheel again.  I may say, write and do things that don't match up with how Jesus lived His life.  But it doesn't change who I am.  My failures and faults do not define me - my Savior does.

So, I can trust that even when especially when I get it wrong, His grace covers me.  The more I trust in God accepting me, the more I will come to accept myself - for better or worse, even if that seems scary right now.  The Lord will use me, when I keep my eyes turned to Him and my heart tuned to the song of His Will.  The more I seek to take off the blinders that limit me seeing His work in my life, the more I will be rewarded with the vision of abundant life He is revealing in and around me. 

It is about time to step off the scale of legalism and into the light of His Presence, don't you think?

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