When I read the sub-title to the next section in Chapter 6, I can't help but laugh! "Don't Try So Hard" could be the anthem of my life. In fact, for the longest time, I think it was all my "trying" that was inhibiting my growth in Christ. I worked tirelessly to earn my salvation... my right to be in the club, if you will. I taught Sunday School. I served on the Missions Committee, the worship team. I was involved in a small group. I volunteered for countless organizations... all at the same time. But, after a while, I realized that the more I was "doing"... the less I was "feeling"... and when I say "feeling," I mean having a connection to Christ. You see, I was so caught up in service, that I lost sight of who I was serving... and why.
In my opinion, one of the most astute observations Chan makes in the book is the following:
"Personal experience has taught me that actions driven by fear and guilt are not an antidote to lukewarm, selfish, comfortable living. I hope you realize instead that the answer is love." p. 101
He goes on to site the following Scripture:
"You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Galatians 5:13-14
I have a confession to make. When I first read this Scripture... in this context... I flippantly skimmed over it. I mean, seriously, how many times have I heard this Scripture? I'm horrified to admit that I've become desensitized to it. Thankfully, I stopped myself... pointing out my own arrogance... and being mindful of the fact that often times when I think I understand something so well... I really don't understand it at all. And as I read Chan's remarks following this Scripture, I realized that my arrogance had struck again, for he casts a bright light on this Scripture that causes it to shine in a way that I've never seen:
"Do you understand what this passage is saying? When we love, we're free! We don't have to worry about a burdensome load of commands because when we are loving, we can't sin. Do you feel free in your Christian life?" p. 102
For the longest time, I was so blinded by the "burdensome load of commands" that I couldn't even contemplate the thought of loving... especially loving freely. Loving was more out of obligation. Even today, I'm constantly reminded that loving some people is "required"... if I don't chose to love them, I'm reminded (usually by my husband) that I'm not being "very Christian." But even a comment like this... as convicting as it may be... takes us back to the vicious circle... the "burdensome load of commands." I can't win!
But, the reason I can't "win" is because my perspective is wrong. My faith... and by default, my life... is not a game that will be won or lost based on my ability to carry that "burdensome load of commands." Winning is not achieved through the culmination of "checked boxes" on my spiritual To-Do List. The winning comes when I meet Jesus... face to face. And the best assurance I have of this is not only by the act of accepting Him as my Savior... but learning to love... genuinely love... others.
Today, I just want to share something with you... a little encouragement, if you will. Perseverance can be a difficult thing... especially when it's praying for something that is completely out of your control. But, God is so incredibly faithful. I have prayed for my husband and his walk with Christ for almost 10 years... the entire length of our relationship. Praying that he will draw closer to Jesus. It has been a long, bumpy road with many encouraging steps forward... and just as many steps backward. But, this morning, as I was writing this blog and sharing my thoughts about today's entry, he tried to encourage me... with Scripture! You see, he has been faithfully reading my Bible for the last few weeks. Even last night, we were sprawled out on opposite sides of the bed... he was reading the Bible and I was doing my Bible study... and our 3-year-old was cozily tucked away in between us "reading" Dora. The joy I felt is almost inexplicable... a joy that has had no comparison in my life, except for the births of my children. I have prayed for moments like these. I have cried out to God for moments like these. I have dear friends who have also prayed for this and have shared in my tears... knowing the void it has left in my life... but more importantly, the meaning it holds in my husband's.
Ten years seems like an eternity... and I know that some of you have persevered (and are currently persevering) for much longer. But our time here... as long and drawn out (and painful) as it seems, is nothing compared to our eternity in Heaven. So be encouraged. You are not alone. God is faithful!
His Faithful Servant~