I'm away at a conference in California with Aaron, so I have some friends guest posting on here today. As usual, enjoy their words and leave them a comment telling them how much you appreciate them.
I used to be so in love.
Heart-pounding, unswerving, zealous, do-anything-for-you, love.
The necessary past tense for accuracy stings with shame. But there it is. Past tense. What used to be that is not now.
I have become one of those old people in the church I went to as a kid. I remember the youth kids would get up and talk about how great Youth Camp was and how “on fire” for God they were. I remember getting excited with them, my heart beating wildly for the Jesus they spoke so passionately about. Until I heard an old man grumble to his wife, “Eh, on fire. He's young. He'll grow out of it.”
Sadly, he was right. Well, at least about me anyway. My on and off again relationship with Jesus is nothing to brag about. I grew up and grew out of love. My heart scabbed over with misplaced and disappointed faith. My curiosity capped by cynicism. The eternity that was supposed to be in my heart felt finite and thin.
Then, there was a moment, in the darkest space of my life, when something flickered in me. Something I recognized…vaguely, faintly, but I knew it from a long time ago…
Hope poked through the fort I had so carefully built all around me. Where did this come from? Why would it want to come in and soften what I had worked so intensely on hardening? I was happy in my unbelief. Well, maybe not happy, but at least I couldn't be disappointed by belief again.
Hope did its job that the word promises it will do. It began to deliver me from the layers and layers of protection I buried myself under. I would read about how Jesus called to those on the fringes; I would feel hopeful in my messiness, and a layer would fall. I would hear about how Jesus purchased for me grace, and I would smile as my knees hit the ground in thankfulness…and another layer would be removed. Slowly, the Lord peeled away each layer of darkened hurt I had come to know so well. I stood before Him, free for the first time in years, and I would remember my love of the old days and it felt new and real again.
Ahh, those were the days.
And there is that past tense again.
I wish I could say it only happened a couple of times, or even a handful of times, but it's a constant fight for me. God draws me in, tells me He loves me, and scrubs the world off my face. I remember my love for Him again. I remember this love that started two thousand years ago by Him and I snuggle down in it. In these moments, I think I'll never leave Him. But before I can even finish the promise, I'm out the door again.
Paul says it this way: For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Gal. 5:1)
It's exactly what I had been and am still doing. I trade my freedom for slavery to some idol, or law, or whatever else is shiny and pleasing and comfortable in the moment. I remove the light burden that He offers me and pull on the heavy yoke of slavery. And then wonder why I feel so tired, frustrated, cranky, unloved, and unable to love.
Paul continues his thought with:
You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law, you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
Paul doesn't simply remind us that it is not by works that we are saved, but that we are actually severed from Christ and fallen from grace when we trust in our works. Because, he tells us, it is through the Spirit, by faith, that we wait for the one who makes it possible for us to stand before God. God grants us hope through His Son.
So, I remind myself of these things:
For my love to be rooted in the cross and my eyes fastened to the hope of righteousness.
That Jesus is the author and perfecter of my faith.
That faith works through love.
And in the end my faith will be made sight.
And once again, by this reminder,
I am in heart-pounding, unswerving, zealous, do-anything-for-you,
Annie Lent is married to her sweet mr, Kyle Lent, for one year. She serves with the Women's Development Program at the Austin Stone Community Church teaching and discipling women.
my favorite line: “God draws me in, tells me He loves me, and scrubs the world off my face.”
and, “we are actually severed from Christ and fallen from grace when we trust in our works”.
thank you for that!
Annie…you’re such an awesome writer!