Dear descendants of Adam and Eve, we’ve been contaminated with a disease. The infiltration of sin is deep in our nature – peel back the layers, it’s no secret: even the naked eye can see it under careful examination, no exaggeration needed. These are exact statements: we are dead in our offenses; we can’t pay penance with petty possessions; no exceptions or exemptions will be made, nothing independent of true repentance and redemption; deserving the death sentence; we earned it by our own merits; inherited from our parents; pride and arrogance. “Endlessly in error” is the best way to describe our rebellious lives as blind derelicts.Beautiful Eulogy
On what basis should we escape judgement and condemnation? If we get graded on a curve, who is worthy of God’s favor? If He is righteous and just and the wages of sin is death, the only way for us to live is if someone perfect dies for us. How else can the spiritually lifeless rise from dust – from the worst to the least of sinners? The truth hurts, but let it simmer until your soul surrenders control.
The goal of faith is to believe that we need to be saved and then rejoice knowing that our Savior came, died in our place, and His sinless life was raised from the grave. Our sin is death, Christ is life. Either way all of us are slaves – one kills, one saves.
“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.“
– Matthew 22:8-14
“What is today, Friday? Okay, there’s Friday trouble. Guess what, there’s Saturday trouble. That’s what Jesus said – that’s not me being a prophet! Each day has its trouble; it’s appointed!
You know what else? Lamentations 3 says, ‘The mercies of the Lord are new every morning.’ Those two texts [Matthew 6:34, Lamentations 3:22-23], I don’t know how many years I’ve been using them for my soul. Every day has its own trouble; every day has its own mercy.”
“Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!”
The song “‘Tis So Sweet” has been on repeat for me over the past months. Each time I listened to the chorus, one line of lyrics stuck in my mind: “How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er”. What does this phrase mean? How do we, with each day, prove God’s faithfulness, forgiveness, righteousness, and power? (For the sake of space, the following is a very short list, but there is so much more to say: Psalm 16:11, Psalm 32:5, Matthew 6:25-34, Romans 8:32, 2 Corinthians 4:16, etc.)
“He will not let your foot be moved;he who keeps you will not slumber.Psalm 121:3-4
Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”
It is a miracle that we wake up each morning. Each time we go to sleep, there is a God who sustains us, and this God never sleeps, takes a break, or becomes distracted. As the eyes close and the brain shuts down, He tells the hearts to beat without any conscious effort. He gives cells, muscles, bones, and joints the strength to regenerate in order to face the coming day. He allows the eyes to open, the light to flood in the corneas, and the brain to process its surroundings. All of this is unmerited and undeserved grace, bestowed on us without our asking. “Each night, as I confront my need again for sleep, I’m reminded that I’m a dependent creature. I am not self-sufficient. I am not the Creator.” (C.J. Mahaney, Humility)
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;his mercies never come to an end;they are new every morning;great is your faithfulness.”Lamentations 3:22-23
Each day has its own trials and troubles, and there is no way we, as limited creatures, can foresee the daily difficulties. We can only know with certainty that there will be difficulties for each coming day, and that “sufficient for the day is its own trouble”. Yet God gives us mercy and steadfast love every single morning, and His daily mercy and love are enough to carry us through the day’s challenges. At the end of each day, when we find ourselves still alive and taking breath, we know that His mercy has sustained us through the trials of the day.
“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy…”Jude 24
If we are humbly honest with ourselves, we will readily admit that our faith is weak and shaky without God’s support. We are tempted too often, we are anxious too often, we are distracted too often, and we lose sight of God’s goodness too often. Yet God is greater than our weaknesses! Though at times we are not faithful to God as we ought to be, we can trust that He remains faithful to us. When our life draws to an end or when He returns in glory, we will see that, only by His grace alone, we have been kept faithful to Jesus and will be presented blameless before His presence.
“The Lord is merciful and gracious,slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.He will not always chide,nor will he keep his anger forever.He does not deal with us according to our sins,nor repay us according to our iniquities.”Psalm 103:8-10
R.C. Sproul once said, “God is never obligated to be merciful to a rebellious creature. He doesn’t owe us mercy.” It is owing only to God’s loving kindness and grace that He decides to have mercy for even one soul. If we would have it our way, we would have run from God at the first moment we could, to the destruction of our bodies and souls. We sin against Him every single day, both consciously and unconsciously, and He has absolute right and power to destroy us at that moment in our sin; what could we say against Him and His righteousness? Yet praise God that He “does not deal with us according to our sins”, but instead He is slow to anger and quick to show mercy and love to those who fear Him.
“‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His word,
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know thus saith the Lord.”
When I talk to others about the challenges of teaching, I often share this about me: When I was growing up, I always thought of myself as a calm, gentle, easygoing person… and then I started teaching. Over the past three years, it has been quite a journey to learn how I am not as patient, peaceable, or gentle as I thought I was. By God’s grace, I can confidently say that there has been success and development in this area of my life, but the journey is far from over.
Recently, during a day where nothing seemed to be going right and my patience was lacking, God brought to my mind the verses of Matthew 15:18-19:
“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”
I was reminded that my moments of anger and impatience are not the result of my circumstances, but rather of the state of my heart and the overflow of the wickedness and evil in my being. And I grieved over my sin.
Yet there is hope.
As Paul is unpacking his theology of the Law in his letter to the Roman church, he is confronted with his sinful nature. Recognizing the pervasiveness and destructive nature of his sin, he cries out,
“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” (Romans 7:24-25)
Who will save us from our wretchedness? Who is powerful enough to destroy our selfish, pride-ridden, violent, anxious, weak-willed nature? Who will hold fast to us in the turbulence of life? Who can sanctify our hard hearts through these sin-filled trials and pains? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, who “had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins”, and who “has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:12, 14)!
P.S. This is a great article that has been a great reminder and encouragement for me. Though it speaks directly to motherhood, I found that it applies very well to my struggles as a teacher.
I am not much of a blogger, as you can see. I don’t journal regularly either, but rather sporadically (last time was four years ago). I think this comes from a variety of reasons, the most prominent being my laziness. I do recognize the benefits, though: increased clarity in thoughts, an opportunity to encourage myself and others, being able to glorify God through my writings, etc..
Something I have always known about myself is that I am not a very deep thinker about many things, nor do I have very many convictions about relevant current events. I am also a very distracted thinker and have what I call a singly-focused mind – meaning that my mind is capable of focusing on only one thought/topic at a time, and when my mind is considering one thing, I often cannot consider another thing or listen to someone else until I set my focus on that thing or person. It’s sometimes a source of conflict with my close friends when I don’t hear what they say or when I don’t pay attention to them. And my mind sometimes gets blown when I consider people who are able to multi-task like that.
My brother in Christ, who is very close and beloved to me, convinced me to journal again, and in also considering the reasons above, I decided to scour the interwebs for my old blog! In doing this, and assuming I continue to write (whether I do, only God knows…), I hope to first encourage myself by pointing myself to the Gospel, to God, and to His promises (I am often very selfish in what I do/say/think). Second, I hope to encourage whoever else may read this. Third, I hope to practice thinking deeply about whatever is on my mind, and to not let distractions at the end of the day drive out whatever I need to contemplate. Fourth, I hope to bring glory to God through my writing, to worship and adore him as a result of my contemplating.
I think very few of us consider the gift God has given us in communication. He has blessed us with the ability to speak, write, and read, and how much more so now with videos, recordings, webcamming, etc.! Just as Luke had recorded the life of Jesus to point his friend Theophilus to the truth of Christ, so I hope to write and record to point myself (and you!) to Christ.
Thanks for joining me!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton