by Pastor Mark Jordan
“Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.” (Romans 5:5-8, MSG)
I had a come to Jesus meeting the other day. Before you get curious with whom, it was really Jesus having a “come-to-me” meeting with me. Clear as mud? Good.
I was praying about a situation that had me perplexed and anxious. I knew some of it was due to my own behavior and choices, but most of it really was out of my control. As I prayed, I started by essentially saying, “Dear Lord, please forgive me for _______, and give me the strength, mercy, and grace I need to do ______.” As I prayed, I felt convicted, because, (A) I am forgiven, and (B) I have God’s grace. The question I had to answer was, am I living into it? What a question, indeed!
This is something I imagine many of us wrestle with. We pray and ask God for forgiveness, strength, mercy, and grace as though we don’t already have it. If we are in Christ, though, we have it! The question is, are we living in it?!? God’s forgiveness, strength, mercy, and grace is designed to cover us in all ways and things, but we must choose to live under it.
Think about an umbrella. If you have an umbrella, you can get under it when it rains. Having an umbrella doesn’t mean you can keep it from raining, but what it does mean is you can stay dry while under it. God’s forgiveness, strength, mercy, and grace is like an umbrella if you have Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life. You have to get under it, though, if you expect to stay dry. Unfortunately, we tend to live as though the umbrella should stop the rain as opposed to give us protection in the midst of the storm.
If you are in Christ, you are a new creation. Focus on Him, and not on self. When you focus on God, you’ll find the open, spacious, and free life you yearn to enjoy.
Will you live into it? I sure hope so!
Prayer: Dear Lord, forgive me for the times I focus too much on self. In Jesus, I know I already have your forgiveness, mercy, grace, and strength. Help me to live into it. I ask this in Christ’s holy name. Amen.