Past Faithfulness Fills the Reservoir of the Soul

George Mueller, the great man of faith who cared for over 10,000 orphans in Bristol, England during his life, despite never soliciting any kind of gift for himself or his work, once said this:

“If God fails me at this time, it will be the first time.”

Don’t you love that?

Mueller was supremely confident in the faithfulness of God, often going right up to the very mealtime in which his orphans has nothing to eat, still confident God would put food on the table. How was he able to do this?

It’s a relevant question for me, and possibly for you, given the plague of anxiety that ravages us on a near daily basis. It seems that we invent things to worry about – the weather, the economy, the state of the union or of our families. We might fool ourselves into thinking that our worry is about our circumstances, and that it this thing or that thing was suddenly different than it is now then we would not find ourselves being so anxious.

But we know that’s not true. Don’t we?

We know that if we weren’t worried about this particular thing, then we would find something else to occupy our anxious energy. Our worry isn’t about our circumstances; it’s about our hearts. And deep in our hearts, we doubt whether or not God will actually be faithful to what He has said. Or beyond that, we doubt that we will actually be able to make it through His plan for our future if His plan doesn’t match up with what we have convinced ourselves is what is good and best for us.

The question is extremely relevant. How was Mueller, and how can we, have this kind of confidence on a daily basis?

Surely at least part of it has to do with our past experience.

If you would, consider with me for a second the examples of God’s faithfulness in your past. Most any of us can look back at any number of situations and, if we really thought about it, acknowledge the goodness and wisdom of God. Furthermore, we can even look back on prayers that we have prayed that seemed to go unanswered, and recognize even then that God’s seeming non-answer was actually yet another example of His faithful love, care, and provision.

Sometimes, in His faithfulness, He gives us what we desire. And sometimes, in His faithfulness, He gives us what we should desire. Either way, God is faithful.

When we look back, then, across the landscape of what was and what He did during those times, we see time and time again these big and small examples of His faithfulness. Everything from providing a job to helping you take the very next step still in faith is a testimony to His unchanging character and commitment to His glory and your good.

Looking back fills the reservoirs of our souls. These tangible examples and memories are like the rains that become pools that become lakes from which we can draw over and over again during the seasons of drought.

So are you feeling dry today? Are you wondering if this will be “the time” when God doesn’t come through? Then draw from your reservoir. And if your reservoir is dry, then remember all the times when He has been who He is before. Remember, and feel the rain.

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The Glorious Certitude of God

Certainty is hard to come by in the world today.

Health? Uncertain.

Family? Uncertain.

Career? Uncertain.

It can feel a little bit like being on a small boat in the middle of the ocean. The waves aren’t massive; they’re not going to capsize you. At the same time, though, even those small breakers play havoc with your equilibrium. Up and down. Up and down. Up and down. Over and over again until the queasiness that starts in the soles of your feet makes its way up to your stomach. You are nauseous with uncertainty, and every fiber of your being starts to cry out for stability. For something rock solid on which to stand.

Once upon a time, I thought I had an iron stomach until I found myself on a literal small boat in the middle of a literal big ocean. And though the trip out into the bay started out fine, it only took about an hour until I was chumming the fish over the side of the boat with everything within me. And then the seasoned fisherman who was with me told me to pick out a fixed point on the horizon – in this case, it happened to be an oil derrick, and fix my eyes there. Slowly, my equilibrium returned even in the middle of instability.

So, too, do we find the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah, the doomsdayer of his day, felt the flux around him. In a context of sloshy-morality and iffy-commitment, he was the bearer of the promise of God’s judgment. And the people hated him for it. The waves came up and down around him and he, too, was no doubt seasick from the motion. But he fixed his eyes on what was stable. What was permanent. In that atmosphere of constant flux there is a great word of glorious certitude from the prayer of the prophet Jeremiah:

Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me, and I will be saved, for You are my praise (Jeremiah 17:14).

Can you feel it? No sloshing waves here. Instead, there is the rock solid confidence that when God does something it is done. When He speaks it is accomplished. When He acts it is irreversible. Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed. Case closed.

Oh, how it speaks to my soul. How it calms my thoughts. How it comforts my heart. Save me, and I will be saved. Period.

What are you looking at, Christian? Where are your eyes fixed? Look at the glorious certitude of our God and feel your spiritual equilibrium return:

Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne (Hebrews 12:1-2).

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The Tedious Work of Restoration

Galatians is in large part a scathing book. It’s sentence after sentence of Paul’s logical but emotional rebuke of the Galatian Christians who had abandoned the pure gospel of justification by faith and instead turned toward a mixed bag – a little faith, a little Jesus, and a little bit of works here and there and…


You’re acceptable to God.

But as you turn the corner into chapters 5 and 6, so does Paul, and he sets about describing the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of these Christians. The Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, and a host of other characteristics. And as the apostle continues into chapter 6, he begins to discuss the law of love and how it works itself in the lives of these people.

Remember, many of them had deserted the gospel; Paul’s goal was not only for them to return to the true faith, but also to return to the true church. He didn’t want a church that was broken and fractured by people’s abandonment of their faith; instead, he wanted to see these churches put back together. In order for that to happen, there had to be some restoration that would take place:

“Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won’t be tempted. Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone considers himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each person should examine his own work, and then he will have a reason for boasting in himself alone, and not in respect to someone else. For each person will have to carry his own load” (Galatians 6:1-5).

The goal here is restoration.

And there’s one particular word that helps us see what that process is like. That word – restore – is the same word used in Mark 1 of the fisherman who were mending their nets:

“Going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in their boat mending their nets…” (Mark 1:19).

They were “mending” them. Or “restoring” them.

Such work is tedious, time-consuming, and careful. You have to be down on your hands and knees, looking deeply and carefully about the way those nets are intertwined and wound around each other. Then, once unwound, you have to carefully put them back together.You have to separate the strands from each other so that you can truly identify the complicated and tangled issue.

Why do you go to such great lengths, though? It’s not for the purpose of identification; you already know the net is busted. You do it to restore it – patching the rips and tears and putting them back in order so they might be useful for their intended purpose once again.

Such is the case with the kind of restoration in Galatians 6. It takes a long time. It involves careful personal investment. It’s something that’s only truly accomplished by those who know what they’re doing. It’s messy, pain-staking work. And it’s the kind of work that can only be accomplished if we have the end goal in mind of putting things back in their working order.

Thank God this is what Jesus does with us long before we attempt to do it with anyone else. The Holy Spirit convicts and shines light on our sin – not just our behavior, but the deep-seeded heart issues that motivate those specific acts of disobedience. Then, over time, He puts us back together again in working order. Fit for use.

And eventually fit for fishing, just like nets.

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The Sweet, Sound Sleep of the Christian

My wife can tell you – I’ve never had trouble going to or staying asleep. I’ve fallen asleep in multiple places where any polite person shouldn’t. Dinner parties, movies, birthdays, in the middle of games – you name it, I’ve probably slept there.

But last week… well, last week was different. My sleep schedule was interrupted; I had a lot of late nights and early mornings. And by the end of the week I felt more than tired. And it was the kind of tiredness that went beyond the physical for me; it was a spiritual kind of fatigue.

I was tired in my soul.

You ever felt that way? I bet you have. When you know that you need a deeper kind of rest than what comes when you close your eyes. A deeper kind of rest than what’s offered to you in an 8 hour segment. A deeper kind of rest that seeps down into the marrow of your bones. If you have, then maybe you know the sweetness of the words of Jesus when He says:

“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).

Yes. There it is. Drink it in. the rest that comes from Jesus. The rest that comes because Someone has done the work on your behalf. The rest that’s freedom from self-justification and performance anxiety.

The rest of the soul.

Put your soul on the pillow, Christian. Sleep soundly because of the One who has worked in our stead.

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The Freedom of Not Responding

We love to respond. No, wait – that’s wrong. We NEED to respond.

Don’t we?

You know the feeling as well as I do. There is someone who brings something to us – it’s an accusation, it’s a criticism, it’s a rebuke – it’s a whatever. Someone does something or says something or insinuates something and we, in return, feel a compulsion inside of us. It’s a burning down deep in our guts. We. Must. Respond. And usually when that responds comes, it’s part and parcel with what has just been dealt to us. If it was anger, we respond in anger. If criticism, we respond with criticism of our own. If accusation, we respond with defensiveness. Whatever the case, we respond.

Curious, though, that Jesus did not feel the same need.

The prophet Isaiah predicted the non-response of Jesus:

“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, He did not open His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

The gospel accounts of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion reflect the same silence:

  • And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He didn’t answer. Then Pilate said to Him, “Don’t You hear how much they are testifying against You?”14 But He didn’t answer him on even one charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed (Matthew 27:12-14).
  • So he kept asking Him questions, but Jesus did not answer him (Luke 23:9).

Interesting, right? Maybe even a little maddening? It gets inside us a bit because of the injustice. Here, Jesus, being falsely accused and maligned with all sorts of groundless accusations and insinuations, and He responds with… nothing. Silence. A closed mouth. It’s such an unbelievably stark contrast with our undeniable compulsion of response. It’s almost as if Jesus has some kind of freedom that we do not have – a freedom whose fruit is silence. While we are enslaved by our need to have the last word, a clever quip, or some kind of drop-the-mic self-justification. Why, then, does Jesus have this freedom of non-response that eludes us? I would propose two reasons:

1. He knew who He was.

From the very beginning of His ministry, Jesus knew absolutely who He was and what He was here for. He was, and is, the Son in whom the Father was and is well pleased. He knew what He was about, and He was completely confident in His personal identity and mission. Even when the crowds wanted to hoist Him on His shoulders and carry Him to power, Jesus felt no need to succumb to their praise.

A big part of the reason why we always feel the need to respond in any situation is because we lack this assurance and confidence. We don’t know who we are, or at least we haven’t fully embraced it. We, because of Jesus, have become the sons and daughters in whom the Father is well-pleased, and because we are, we have no need of any more self-justification. If we truly internalized this truth, the truth of who we’ve become in Christ, we might find ourselves with an increasingly closed mouth.

2. He knew who they were.

Jesus didn’t just know who He was; He knew who His accusers were. In fact, He knew them better than they knew themselves. He knew they were deceived; unenlightened; slaves to the prince of the air and citizens of the world, fully indoctrinated into that line of thinking and believing. He knew this so well that He was able to pray for their forgiveness even as they put Him to death.

But us? Well, we are far more concerned about responding than knowing. We are much more focused on our next word than the heart that motivated the criticism or accusation. We forget, in a day and time of easy and cheap social interactions, that the ones on the other side of the tweet are actually people who are made in the image of God. If we knew who they were, we might be much slower to speak and much quicker to hold our tongues.

If you, like me, find yourself enslaved by responding, chained by the need to have the next and last word, then perhaps we can focus our eyes on Christ who lived in the freedom of non-response. And as we do, perhaps we will be reminded again of who we are in Him, and who the people are we desire so much to respond to.

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When Complexity Abounds, Return to Simplicity

Sometimes I drink too much coffee.

And not like, “Perhaps I shouldn’t have had that extra cup in the afternoon because now I’m having a little trouble sleeping,” but more like, “I think my heart is going to explode.” Ever have that feeling?

It’s the feeling that your heart is racing, you eyes are twitching back and forth, and you have a pent up supply of nervous energy that needs to find an outlet. For me, at least, it only part of the time comes from coffee. But it can also come from the general pace of life.

We can get that over-caffeinated sensation not just from coffee, but also from the general pace of life. There are times when you feel like there are so many plates spinning in the air, so many tasks to attend to, so many different things to focus your mind and heart on that you can’t even begin. You feel crushed under the weight of complexity; you are in a tangled web of due dates, checklists, and needs of those around you. We are a multi-tasking people who are multi-tasking ourselves to death.

In those moments, when your heart is racing, your eyes are twitching, and you can’t tackle a single thing because there are so many single things, the psalmist has a good word for us:

“Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful. The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you” (Psalm 116:5-7, ESV).

The Lord preserves the simple.

Drink those words in with me for a second. The Lord God preserves the simple.

What does it mean to be simple? In our day and time, the word has a negative connotation. We have taken it to mean gullible and stupid. The simple are the naive who don’t understand the true ways of the world. They are the ones who are easily taken advantage of, and they smile all the while. But perhaps there is some good truth in our interpretation of that word. But that truth comes to me, and you if you’re feeling the weight of complexity, in the form of a difficult question:

Am I prepared to take God at His Word?

When I hear from the Lord that my acceptance in Him is sure and certain in Christ; when I hear from Him there is nothing left to prove because Jesus has proven it all at the cross; when I hear from Him that He will give me this day my daily bread; when I hear from Him that He knows how to give good gifts to His children even if we don’t recognize the goodness of the gift at the time; when I hear that nothing in all creation will separate me from the love of God in Christ…

Do I actually, and simply, believe it to be true?

Oh yes, the Lord does preserve the simple. And when complexity abounds today, then today is the moment to return to simplicity.

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The Most Surprising Question From Jesus

There are, if you want to be super simplistic about it, maybe only two types of questions that we ask each other.

The first type of question is based on the need for information. It is asked in order for the asker to know something that he or she doesn’t already know. This is the kind of question I ask most everyday about my keys, or my shoes, or my wallet, or my whatever – “Jana, where is my whatever?” I ask because I don’t know, and I assume the person I’m asking possesses the knowledge that I need and might be willing to share it with me.

But there is another type of question – this one is not based in information, but based more in revelation. You ask this type of question to another when you know the answer, and maybe even the person you’re asking knows the answer, but through asking it reveals something else that the person you are asking it to might now know. And God asks these kinds of questions all the time.

Take, for instance, the garden. The fall has happened. Man has rebelled. Everything in creation has been turned upside down. And the Lord asks a question of Adam and Eve:

“Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9).

This is not a question based in information; God the Creator knows very well that his humans are hiding behind some trees over there. He’s not asking it because He doesn’t know; He’s asking it because He wants to reveal something to Adam and Eve, and to us. The revelation is both about themselves (and ourselves) and about Him. Through these three words, God brings us to a point of revealing that we are, as sinners, hiding from His presence. And that He, because of His great love, is seeking us out to be in right relationship with Him.

As parents, we do the same thing even if we don’t know it. We come in the house and we see that the lamp is broken. We know that a child has done this, and most of the time we know which child. But we ask anyway, “Who broke the lamp?” It’s not because we need information; it’s because we desire revelation. We want the child to own up to what they’ve done, and in so doing, to take responsibility for that action and ultimately for us to reveal both the discipline and the grace we have for them.

Revelation. Not information.

When we come to Jesus, then, we find Him asking all kinds of questions. And I would posit that when Jesus asks a question, it’s not a search for information; it’s to the end of revelation. But there is one particular moment in the gospels when He asks a very surprising question:

“Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6).

Seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? If you read the context, you will find that the man on the receiving end of this question who had been sick for 38 years. For almost 4 decades, he had been lying by this pool, putting his hope in some old superstition about its magical qualities when it started to bubble.

Of course he wants to be healed. I mean, who wouldn’t, right? But let’s go back to the reasons behind the questions. If we categorize those questions into questions involving either information or revelation, and if we further assume that Jesus knows the information, then He must be after some kind of revelation in this answer. So what, then, does Jesus want to reveal by asking this question?

In the Book of John, we know that Jesus is constantly about revelation. That’s the reason why all these miracles He performs as recorded in this book are referred to as “signs;” it’s because they are all meant to reveal the divinity of Jesus. But the revelation also has an introspective component for this man. With the question, Jesus is forcing him to look inside himself, as if to say, “I know that you might respond with an immediate yes, but think about it. Do you really want to be healed?”

Is this the kind of question Jesus might still ask of us today? I think so.

It’s not that we don’t need to be healed; we do. We need to be healed from the ongoing sin in our lives. We need to be healed from the wounds of our painful circumstances. We need to be healed from our misshapen views of God that have come about through decades of bad examples and wrong beliefs. But Jesus doesn’t ask us about our need. He asks us, along with this man, something concerning our desire. We, like the man, are lying in a state of ongoing sickness, and Jesus asks us the same question: “Do you really want to be made well?”

And in that moment, we like the man are forced to look inside ourselves.

You can get accustomed to a lot of things in 38 years. In fact, you can become so accustomed to something that you develop an attachment to it. Even though your circumstances are painful, at least they are something you know. Something you’re comfortable with. Could things be better? Sure they could. But at least with the way things are, you know what to expect everyday.

Healing is good, but healing is also uncomfortable. It means letting go of what is familiar and comfortable. It means releasing ourselves totally to His care. It means trusting that He is better than whatever lifestyle we are currently clinging to. But to answer that question in the positive requires some measure of risk on our part. And if we are willing to answer affirmatively; if we see inside ourselves and recognize that being healed means a departure from what we once were and moving forward into the unknown with Jesus, then He is willing. Though the process might be longer than it was with this particular man, the healing will come.

When Jesus comes to you with this question, don’t be too quick to answer. Recognize that He’s not after information, but revelation, and look inside yourself. And when you do, what will you say?

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The Still, Small Voice You Have to Wait For

I don’t like to wait.

Neither do you.

To be fair, it’s not all our fault, is it? Part of our hatred of waiting involves the culture we have been born and raised inside of. Everyone, everywhere, and in everything is constantly looking for a more efficient way to do whatever it is that they’re trying to do. We need faster wait times at the airport. We need to move more cars off the roads and more people into public transportation to reduce traffic and therefore our time spent waiting in vehicles. We need people to answer our email or text message quickly, on our time table, so that we can move onto the next task. And of course, we’ll soon have the drones. All to make sure we can maximize our time and not waste any of it in waiting.

This is problematic for the Christian because in a culture that’s bent on eliminating the need to wait, we are the people who believe (supposedly) in things that we cannot see. That are not readily apparent. That are coming, and yet have not yet come. To be a Christian means to be someone who waits, whether we like it or not.

This is not a new thing. The people of God have always had to grow in this characteristic. There were the 400 years of slavery in Egypt when the people waited. There was the 70 years spent in captivity when the exiles waited. There was the other 400 years between the Old and New Testament when the faithful waited. And here, now, we still wait, for Jesus to split the sky and come back and make everything bad come untrue.

So, too, is waiting essential for those who truly want to hear the voice of God.

Maybe you know the story – it’s one of the classic texts we point to that shows us the nature of God’s voice. The setting is one of danger, for the prophet Elijah had made an enemy of the wicked Queen Jezebel. Under threat of his life, God’s man fled out to the wilderness, and there he heard the voice of the Lord:

Then the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of Hosts, but the Israelites have abandoned Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are looking for me to take my life.”

Then He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the LORD’s presence.”

At that moment, the LORD passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and shattering cliffs before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave” (1 Kings 19:9-13).

There is much to see here about the Lord who speaks. We can see, for example, that the Lord speaks to those who have dedicated themselves to listening. We can also see that the Lord often doesn’t speak in the grand and miraculous, but in the small and silent. But here, too, is a question of timing.

What I mean is that there is really no indication of how much time actually passed between when the Lord began to pass by.

I’ve always read this text and implicitly thought about it in a series of moments – as if this mighty wind that shattered the cliffs was about 10 seconds long. Then the earthquake came and went. And then the fire raged through, and when it was all said and done, Elijah had endured about 10 minutes of catastrophes. But that’s not what the text says. Instead, it says that “at that moment, the LORD passed by,” and that’s it. That’s the last indication of time we have.

We don’t know if this wind lasted for 2 minutes or 2 weeks. Similarly, we don’t know how long the earthquake was, or how long after the storm it occurred. And then we don’t know how long this fire took to really get going, and how long Elijah had to endure the heat of the flames. The text doesn’t tell us, but upon reading it again and again this week, I had to wonder if perhaps this wasn’t a quick experience for the prophet. Instead, perhaps it was days and days of enduring the big and mighty and disastrous, only to find a gentle whisper at the other end.

Can that be so? Can it be that hearing the voice of God is not a ready-made formula that happens quickly, but instead about a commitment to endure and persevere through what threatens us because we are so hungry for His Word to come that we are willing to wait?

And if that is so, then perhaps we have not heard the Word of the Lord not only because our lives are too loud for this gentle whisper, but because we have not waited for it to come as if it’s the very bread of our souls that sustains us.

If you want to hear the Lord speak, then don’t be hasty. Understand that you might have to wade your way through a storm, and earthquake, and the fire. And know that those things might take a while. A long while.

But know, too, that there is the Word on the other side that brings life, like the bread of heaven.

Don’t be hasty, Christian – linger over God’s Word. Take the time in faith to wait for Him to speak again through what He has spoken.

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Two Observations Concerning Our Pursuit of God’s Will

Maybe you know what it feels like to look up into the sky and hope God will write a message there for you to read. Maybe you have looked at some scrub brush and wished it would burst into flames so you could hear His voice. Maybe you’ve gazed longingly into your bowl of Alphabits and wished the letters would suddenly come together to spell out the answer to the one big question:

“What is God’s will for my life?”

At various times in our lives, we search for clarity in the answer to this question. Having asked this questions hundreds of times in my life, I’ve come to a couple of observations regarding my search for the will of God:

1. My search for the will of God is usually a search for the affirmation of God.

Rarely, if ever, do my own kids ask me a question without some kind of agenda behind it. For example, when they ask me, “What’s for breakfast?” what they really mean is “Would you please agree with me that we should have Pop-Tarts for breakfast?” We do the same thing.

Though we might posit the question under the guise of innocence, the vast majority of the time we’ve already made up our minds as to what we want to do. We aren’t really asking God what His will is, then – we are really asking God to agree with the decision we’ve already made. Sadly, we are so good at stuff like this – asking an innocuous question with some definite hope behind it – that we can even deceive ourselves into thinking we are purely asking for what God wills.

2. My search for the will of God begins with me walking in the will of God.

It’s very ironic when you consider just how much of life we actually already know the will of God concerning. The Bible is full of direct statements of God’s will. We know it’s God’s will that we refrain from sexual immorality; we know it’s God’s will that we give ourselves wholly to the ministry of the church; we know it’s God’s will that none perish but all come to repentance and therefore we know it’s God’s will for us to share the gospel in all our spheres of influence.

We don’t have to ask questions about things like this; we know what God’s will is. When you stack up the specific situations of life in which we might not exactly what God’s will is, they are paltry in comparison to those we do. Or to put it another way – we know more than enough of God’s will to always be walking in it.

When when you are walking in the will of God you know you are going to find the will of God you don’t.

Let’s not overcomplicate it, friends. As in all things, the Lord has been generous to us in this. We have all we need to walk in His will. So let’s not use our quest for God’s will as an excuse for not doing it.

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Stand. Don’t Crawl.

A few weeks ago, my wife made a casual statement on Sunday afternoon:

“Do you think we could renovate our bathroom ourselves?”

If we know each other well, you’re probably laughing right now. That’s because you know that I have an incredible propensity to mess up virtually home improvement project. I have left behind a wide swath of destruction littered with everything from light bulbs to paint cans. And yet here was my wife, perhaps naively, wondering if we could take sledge hammer to toilet (or something like that) and renovate our bathroom.

Part of me wanted to immediately go find the crowbar because, hey, what’s the worst that could happen right? But after considering that last question more fully, we decided to wait. And ask questions. To talk to some people who had actually done this before to learn what we could about the process. Maybe watch a youtube video or two to help us know where to start.

In other words, we started slowly crawling toward tackling this project.

Having started to crawl, and learned a little bit about it, I can’t imagine what it’s like to stand in the middle of a situation like that. Maybe someday I will, but not right now. I’m not ready for that. I guess the adage is true – you do indeed have to crawl before you walk. Except when you don’t:

“Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1).

The gospel doesn’t make crawlers; the gospel makes standers. When we believe the gospel, we aren’t propelled straight down to our hands and knees to slowly, arduously, crawl toward the grace of God. We don’t have the burden of bruising our hands and knees as we try and prove ourselves over and over again, all the while hoping that at some point we can prove ourselves worthy of His acceptance.

No, instead of that, we are propelled not as crawlers but as standers right into the middle of God’s grace. And though we might pass by this detail, it’s important for us to pause for a moment and realize the implications that single word has for us:

  • Standing is a position of confidence.
  • Standing is a position of stability.
  • Standing is a position of strength.

Pretty amazing when you think about it. The gospel doesn’t enroll us in some kind of spiritual probation; it propels us into the presence of God. The same presence of the One who crumbles empires and flings stars into the heavens. The same presence of the One who destroys impurity and sin, and the same presence of the One who was and is and always will be.

Here we stand.

It’s no wonder, then, as we stand, that we indeed “rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” What else can we do? For of no merit of our own, nothing to justify ourselves before Him, no words in our mouth to explain why we ought to be there… we stand. We stand up, because Jesus laid Himself down for us.

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