07 Mar 2016
When our identity/serenity and self-worth are based on the approval of someone else or on our performance, we have abandoned the acceptance of Jesus and the peace and serenity that that acceptance offers. When we are anxious about not doing the right thing for fear of loss of love, reprisal or dismissal, we have traded the true gold of God for the counterfeit metal the world offers.
One of the best things about going to an AA meeting or an Al-Anon group is that when you walk in the door nobody has to explain why we are there. There is an understood acceptance that allows us to feel safe and free to listen and maybe share as we find the road to recovery.
Jesus operates the same way. He offers identity, safety, and acceptance—without our having to earn it. Jesus stretches out His hands and accepts us because He loves us. He offers peace and security not because of anything we have done to deserve it. They are His free gift to us. This is called grace. When Jesus is our refuge, we don’t live in fear that if our secrets will be discovered or that we will screw up and His acceptance and love will be jerked away from us. We can live with confidence that His acceptance is unshakable. Gratitude, not fear, will be our motivation to serve Him wherever we walk.
Fearing husbands/wives, loss of our children’s love, or being afraid of bosses whose acceptance of us is based on what we do for them is like standing near quicksand. Lose our footing, and we sink beneath the surface. It is a recipe for anxiety and the never-ending spiral of worry about always measuring up…earning it!
Living with adequacy that comes by accepting the grace that Jesus offers is like standing on firm ground…the Rock of Ages! It is solid and steady…trustworthy and not based on performance. What a wonderful way to live our lives. A life following and worshiping Jesus is a place of real, authentic acceptance.
04 Jan 2016
When the old year comes to a close, we are all tempted to look back upon what we accomplished and where we would like a “mulligan”…a do-over. This is natural for human beings and not a bad exercise if we do it in a way that improves us and doesn’t puff us up as we consider our victories or depress us as we reconsider our failings.
Looking back, a moment of self reflection, is valuable. There is no sin in taking a moment of pride in what we have been able to accomplish as along as it is clothed in the knowledge and humility of God’s Providence and Will. Personal experience shows that there is truth in the old saying, “Those whom the God’s would destroy, first they make proud.” Everything we have and enjoy are gifts from above and should always be enjoyed with eyes looking towards Heaven with Thanksgiving.
Looking back on our failures and sin is also of value as long as we don’t beat ourselves up in a manner that reveals, not repentance but really wounded pride. If we are angry with ourselves for not being strong enough to have withstood a certain temptation, we are most likely just indulging in a kind of reverse pride, being angry with ourselves rather than falling to our knees in repentance and dependence on our Heavenly Father, who is the source of all strength. Being sorry we failed because we feel our strength let us down is pride. Being repentant and seeking God’s forgiveness and renewed strength is Godly.
Look back with kindness and thankfulness at God’s grace. Look forward to the upcoming year with eager anticipation as to what God will do with our surrendered hearts for His Kingdom.