August 17, 2009

keepin' your love lockdown . . .

In my quest to know God better, I become very aware of how much I do not fully understand or know about Him . . . and the incredible amount of wisdom I lack.

The good news is, I discover how much more wonderful He is than I previously believed. My assumptions or preconceived notions of Him are much less loving and compassionate than He truly is.

One of the concepts that I struggle with the most is grace. I've talked about it, probably blogged about it, sung about it, read about it . . . and yet, it's on the top of the list of things my stubborn heart won't accept on a deeper level.

I am afraid that if I go out and do something stupid, that God's love for me will change . . . that He'll withdraw from me, withhold blessings, punish me and change His plan for my life.

This proves to me how I still do not understand God's true character and how I base my view of Him on the way humans tend to behave or treat each other.

The good news is that the Bible is a continual story of God's love for humanity (which is a love that I will never fully grasp or comprehend - see Ephesians 3:17-19) and He reveals Himself and teaches us of His true character in His word. God's love is not like our love. Our love is conditional and fluctuating. His is steadfast and unconditional. (Psalm 103:8, Isaiah 54:10, Romans 8:35-39)

When we come to salvation, Christ doesn't hand us a golden ticket, pat us on the head and say "congratulations," while shoving us into the storm of life without so much as a life jacket.

He promises to never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8) . . . He says that He is the sheperd and we are the sheep, that no one can snatch us out of His hand, and He gathers us and carries us (Isaiah 40:11, John 10:27-30).

He is the author and perfecter of our faith and promises to complete the work He has begun in us (Philippians 1:6).

He rejoices over us when we come to Him, and uses the parable of the lost sheep and the prodigal son to illustrate this. He gave His life for us when we were dead in our transgressions and running from Him. (Luke 15, Ephesians 2:4-9)

God even calls us His beloved children (John 1:12, 1 John 3:1-3).

Furthermore, just think about the characteristics of a relationship (a healthy relationship, that is). You don't just slap the person five and say "see ya!" after you've met them. You continue on with them - you spend time investing in them, you work through problems, you grow closer over the years.

If we are in relationship with Christ, how much greater is that then of human relations? If we can say that we are in a relationship with him, just the word "relationship" should tell us that He's not going to leave our side or forget us - and He promises to never let us go.

He doesn't force Himself upon us - He asks that we love Him with everything we've got (Matthew 22:37-39). He allows us the choice between Him and the world. If we seek Him and draw near to Him, He will reveal Himself to us - which is greater than any of the other blessings that come from His hand (James 4:8, Proverbs 2:4-8, Matthew 7:7-8).

Shoot, if He gave us life for us before we even were born, shouldn't that be enough assurance that He wants to be with us, no matter what the price? Won't the truth of the cross permeate our hearts and minds? This should cause us to rest, knowing that Christ isn't going anywhere.

And life experience tells us, too. I know that in the peak or rebellion, Christ was pursuing me and calling me home. He ultimately rescued me and then blessed me more than I could have asked for. (so, I saw that He did not turn away from me, nor did He withhold any blessings or change His plan for me!) That should tell me of His grace and unconditional love. Yet, how easy is it for us to forget these things? We get too caught up in the day to day grind and our present struggles.

It's humbling when we realize that we really don't have it all together. There is so much that we don't know, understand or accept. But there is a joy in that - we have so far to go, but how much will we gain from getting to know Him more! We should never be satisfied with our present knowledge of Him and the Gospel. God does not call us to be stagnant or complacent.

If I knew everything, I'd be dead. God created us, He knows that we're human and lacking - we are not even called to rely on our own understanding. He wants to be with us, He wants to teach us, guide us, bless us, lead us . . . and He wants us to seek Him daily, die to ourselves, love Him and love others. We can rest knowing that this is a lifelong process - and our Father will lead us each step of the way in patience, love and grace.

If mercy falls upon the broken and the poor,
Dear Father, I will see you, there on distant shores.

And off of the blocks, I was headstrong and proud,
at the front of the line for the card-carrying, highbrowed.
With both eyes fastened tight, yet unscarred from the fight.
Running at full tilt, my sword pulled from its hilt.
It's funny how these things can slip away, our frail deeds,
the last will wave good-bye.
It's funny how the hope will bleed away,
the citadels we build and fortify. Good-Bye.

Night came and I broke my stride,
I swallowed hard, but never cried.
When grace was easy to forget,
I'd denounce the hypocrites,
casting first stones, killing my own.
You would unscale my blind eyes,
and I stood battered, but more wise,
fighting to accelerate,
shaking free from crippling weight.
With resilience unsurpassed,
I clawed my way to You at last.
And on my knees, I wept at Your feet,
I finally believed that You still loved me.

Healing hands of God
have mercy on our unclean souls once again.
Jesus Christ, Light of the World,
burning bright within our hearts forever.
Freedom means love without condition,
without beginning or an end.

Here's my heart, let it be forever Yours,
only You can make every new day seem so new.
"On Distant Shores" - Five Iron Frenzy

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