Sunday, July 7, 2013

Exactly Where I Should Be

Last week, I wrote about the gospel as an impossible command: to follow Christ, no matter what. This past week, I've been thinking about the aspects of following Jesus that feel "impossible" in my life. One particular struggle I've been aware of for about a year now is my seeming inability to relax

It's evidence of grace in the first place that I've come to understand relaxing as part of what it means to be a Christian-- surrendering to Christ's lordship over my life, and so relinquishing my perceived control-- whether of my 10 year plan or my dinner menu for the evening. And it's evidence of grace that I've been convicted about it-- that I actually want the reality of Christ as Lord to so reorder the way I approach life that I no longer compete with Him for control. But in the process of unlearning the "old way" that I know so well-- the way of stressing out about everything-- and pursuing the "new way" of trusting Christ instead, I find myself fluctuating. Praying before bed but still lying awake at night worrying; asking the Lord to provide but still stressing out about what to get at the grocery store; acknowledging that I'm not defined by my performance but still obsessing over what others think of me. Sometimes it feels impossible to let go of this white-knuckled, lock-jawed way of approaching the world.

Sometimes I come to church uptight. Having tossed and turned the night before, or frantically scribbling a to-do list on my way in, or snapping at my husband needlessly, I then hop up front to help lead worship and I feel like a big fraud. Like exactly the kind of person who isn't really following Jesus without conditions. But this morning I realized: it's exactly because of those things that  I'm exactly the kind of person who belongs here. The first song we sang this morning starts with these words: 

Let no one caught in sin remain
inside the lie of inward shame
We fix our eyes upon the Cross
and run to Him who showed great love 

This song reminded me that church is exactly where I belong when in the midst of a struggle to trust Him, to relinquish control to Him, to surrender to Him. Because of His great love, my response to my failure in those things shouldn't be denial (stuffing down my feelings of guilt) or despair (feeling unworthy to really connect with God); rather, it should be to run to Christ. In doing so, I receive the very resources that sustain me in the journey: forgiveness to keep the weight of my failure from crushing me; grace to remind me I'm not only forgiven, I'm embraced; communal worship to encourage me that I am not striving alone; and the nourishing presence of Christ to energize me to keep moving forward. 

These freely given gifts remind me that there is hope for me-- that though the going is slow sometimes, I am learning how to live differently, freely, fully-- because I haven't been left alone to make it happen.

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