Is Salvation Beautiful to You?

diamond

 

“Just as a jeweler in a store will always use a black velvet background to display the splendor of an exquisite diamond, so the intricate, dazzling beauty of the gospel is only fully seen when we understand what the Bible says about man’s radical condition outside of Christ. It’s a bleak and dark picture to be sure. Yet only when we understand the immensity of the problem can we find the right solution – and see the futility of all other man made remedies. We need far more than a moral pep talk; more than some medical first aid for our gaping wounds; and even more than even an oxygen mask to help us breathe more easily. What we need is a miracle! What we need is a resurrection!” – John Samson

The moments when I am not as impressed by the work and wonder of Christ on the cross, just so happens to be the exact same moments when I am numb to my sin and or mesmerized by my own “virtues” and the fleeting pleasures of this world. Sometimes, I don’t see the beauty of my own salvation, because I’m being entertained and blinded by this life. The happy triune God of the universe and His gift of salvation is ever before me.  Beautiful. Stunning. Entrancing. It is right before my eyes and under my nose, but somehow I miss its brilliance and I’m not seeing it’s beauty.  Are you with me? Has the work that Christ did on our behalf lost it’s luster? Is it not so shiny? Not so sparkly?

Oh gee.

We often need a reality check.

We often need to see ourselves more clearly.

We often need to be reminded of the ephemeral nature of this life.

We often need to be reminded of what life apart from Him would be like.

We often need to be reminded of His gracious, unmerited, magnificent love.

Pray for your affections and understanding of God to be increased. Prayerfully read Scripture-even if you don’t feel like it! Especially if you don’t feel like it! Look at who He is and what He has done. Look at who you are and all that you have done. Each salvation story is a jaw-dropping, praise-evoking,  joy-bringing, undeserved, irrevocable miracle! Whether you were a 4 year old growing up in a solid, christian home, or a thief hanging on a cross-your salvation is a miraculous gift. What blessings come when we see God’s grace, and glory, and goodness against the backdrop of who we are apart from Him! How much more beautiful and treasured is my salvation when I remember where I should and could be without it! Peace and God-centered adoration and delight will flow through our spirit when we intentionally work to put the radiance of the gospel in front of our radical condition outside of Christ.

I’m not showing you a pebble and asking you to be in awe of it. I am showing you the most rare, precious, valuable gem in existence asking you to marvel at its worth. Jesus Christ and his gospel is the only exhilarating, essential, life-giving, fulfilling, captivating truth in the universe! Look at it and be amazed!

Is God Better Than My Imagination?

So…recently I’ve been lonely. Not, “I don’t have friends or anyone to talk to lonely”-I’m blessed with amazing, loving friendships and family members, but that sort of “I desire a daily companion- loneliness”. I want a person that knows me. All of me. And that I can process my daily events and ponderings with.  One day when recognizing this yearning in my soul (sorry if that sounds dramatic) I remembered that God is my ultimate companion, and that any desire I have for companionship in this life is but a shadow of the deepest, most fulfilling, indescribable companionship found in the perfect person of our Triune God.

So I decided to try and imagine God as my companion.

I sat down to my dinner of delicious leftovers and asked Him the first question I would ask an earthly companion which was “How was your day?”

I imagined God sitting with me, eating dinner…well…not really Him eating…just me, and him just being there, telling me about the best and worst parts of His day.  With a twinkle in His eye He told me of a beautiful concerto Bach had written in heaven today, and how he had just discovered how to use chord progressions to move buildings.  So the structure they were in was spinning as he was playing! “You’ll love it when you get here! It’s wild!”  He told me about a teenager in Cambodia who was just born again-and the eruption from the angels when it happened!

He told me about a hard part of his day too. “There is a daughter of mine in Mississippi who has prayed to me for 3 years for a son, and I keep telling her no. In fact, today she got back the negative results from in vitro and she cried and cried and cried. It was so painful to hear and see her pain. I moved in the heart of her sisters and friends to call her that day to comfort her, but still I know she is aching.” I asked God why he kept saying no? The answered I imagined him giving blew my mind. “Because in 6 years, the world will be exactly where it needs to be for her son Judah to be born.” I must’ve had a face of panic at the thought of 6 MORE years of heartache for this poor woman, because that’s when I imagined the Lord showing me a little glimpse of His plan.

It appeared before our eyes like a Star Trek-ish computer screen. And the gist of what I imagined Him saying was this: “See I need him born when this, this, this, this, and this has already happened, but I need to move in these people, this country, and this university before that can begin…then at this time I’ll put him here and he will fulfill THIS plan I have for his life. It’s beautiful. It is perfect. As much as I hate to see her cry, I KNOW that my plan is flawless, and I literally cannot have him born ONE day earlier.”

complicated

I imagine it sort of looking like this!

After that conversation, He asked me about my day and I imagined little comments He would respond back with, and questions He would ask. I rambled about different life things and imagined his lighthearted and comical responses. It was an enjoyable time! So enjoyable in fact, that I did that same sort of thing a few days later on Easter, when I took a walk and imagined talking with Him about random reflections and thoughts on the resurrection.

Harmless, right?

Well that’s what I thought until I realized that the god that was answering my questions and responding to me and laughing at all my witty remarks, sounded a lot like Betty. In fact…that god  thought my questions were interesting and barely ever talked about his own holiness or my sinfulness or the gospel really at all. And for that week, I had started to replace God with this imaginary god.

And it makes sense why I started to do that. Because that god is comfy and very relatable and addresses my particular, everyday situations. But that god is not God. That is simply my made up thoughts. My God, my True God, is not hiding in the nooks and crannies of my imagination, but boldly standing in every word, line, and page of the inerrant Scriptures. And that is where I need to CONSTANTLY be in order to live my life in a way that pleases God. As entertaining/fun as it may be to imagine God and how He would respond, that should NOT ever be my first line of defense against anything.  God’s word is all sufficient. In it’s pages lie the revelation of who God is, what He likes, dislikes, how He responds, why He responds, and through it I have the privileged to deeply get to know God. Me! Know God! It’s foolish to depend on my imagination and be more thrilled by that, than by the true character and nature found in Scripture of this mind-blowing, Betty-loving, good and sovereign, abundantly gracious, infinitely creative, joyful, righteous, perfect King, Friend, and Savior.

So don’t just depend on your mind, imagination, or previous knowledge about God in your relationship with Him. We must steadfastly be in His word to not be led astray by any false gospels, or simply entertained with weak caricatures of a god that we can comprehend. Don’t go to bed tonight without reading The Book and reflecting on what it teaches you about who God is-because He is bigger and better than anything we could ever imagine.

Keep Moving Forward!

Perhaps you’ve heard this little quote by Grace Murray Hopper, an admiral in the United States Navy:

And I love this quote because so often we are fearful of the unknown and tempted to stay where we are comfortable and safe. We want to leave the harbor, but we don’t know where we should be going! Should we steer to starboard or to port? One thing is for sure, you can not steer to either if your boat is no in motion.

It is totally okay if are not sure about where God is leading you right now! But that doesn’t mean you can just idly sit in the harbor; you need to move forward. Because often times He does what He did with the Israelites after they escaped from Egypt. He could have parted the Red Sea DAYS before they got to it. They could have seen in the distance, “Look guys! The sea is parted! That is how God is going to deliver us from Pharaoh’s army! He’s done it! Hooray! Woopie! Ye-Haw!” (they, of course,  do a little dance of merriment) But no.

But that is not what He did.

He waited until they got right the edge of the water. He waited until they could taste the salt in the air and hear the sound of the beating hooves of the chariots, waited so they had no other option but to completely rely on God and trust Him wholeheartedly, and then, THEN he parted the Red Sea and they walked across on dry ground.

This might be that time for you. You might be waiting, walking, knowing that God has told you to take a next step, but you are not sure where to! You know what He is saying? He’s saying “Trust me, daughter. Keep moving forward. I will shut doors no one can open and open doors that no one can shut (Rev. 3:8)! I want you to glorify me with your life, and I WILL direct you to the best place for you to do that. Just seek me.”

As you move forward, the Holy Spirit will be sure to grant you peace if that is where our amazing Triune God wants you to be. He is the giver of peace! I love Proverbs 3:5-7 -“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your path.” The Lord’s timing is perfect, and though the path may not be EASY, He will make it straight. And because He is good and trustworthy and beautiful, you will grow to love and trust Him more because of this experience, of this I am sure!

Oh Me of Little Faith

In my journals, probably written about a hundred different times, I write “TRUST GOD”.

I know in my head that He is ABSOLUTELY trustworthy, that He is PERFECTLY loving, and that He is INTIMATELY invested.

I understand that it is silly to put my trust in my own strength or “wisdom”.

Yet still, I doubt. My heart distrusts His goodness and His faithfulness to me in my life. Though I have seen it displayed COUNTLESS times, I wonder if in a particular instance He doesn’t really care about my heartache. I think He cannot really be all sufficient in this situation. Maybe-though He took care of me, here, here, here, and here-He will not come through here. Even though I saw Him glorified in me through this circumstance-maybe this time, He won’t be able to pull it off. Maybe I need something else. Maybe this isn’t going to turn out for any sort of good at all. Maybe this season of silence is going to be a long term thing-for no reason at all.

And I don’t necessarily say all this out loud. I may not even THINK it so precisely. But my lack of faith and trust in my Savior is incredibly evident. A wandering heart reflects it. An anxious spirit reflects it. A lack of joy reflects it. Discontentment reflects it.  Idolatry reflects it.

So what can we/should we do to combat this trustlessness? I know we don’t want to live like that! We want to be people of God MARKED by faith. People whose confidence and trust is so deeply imbedded in the character and nature of Christ that we cannot be shaken. How do we get there? Growing in faith requires grace driven effort. We have to CONFESS that we are basically calling God a liar when we don’t have faith in Him. We have to CHOOSE to seek God through prayer and His word.  And we have to COMMIT to replacing lies of distrust with truths of faithfulness.

He doesn’t care about my heartache- False. Read Psalm 34:18.

I need more than what God is offering- Wrong. What you need you have. 2 Corinthians 12:9.

God has abandoned me- Not a chance. Hebrews 13:5. (want more? Nothing is going to stop God’s love for you-Romans 8:38-39)

Nothing good can come of this- How about sanctification? Check out Romans 8:28-90

And that is just the tip of the iceberg! Be in the Word steadfastly enough to know His character and you will grow in your faith in Him.  Ask fellow believers to tell you “faith growing moments” in their journey with God. Have those closest to you keep you accountable in faith by calling you out when they see your anxious spirit. Choose to trust Him, choose to love Him, choose to praise Him. You won’t regret it.

“My hope lives …

“My hope lives not because I am not a sinner, but because I am a sinner for whom Christ died; my trust is not that I am holy, but that being unholy, HE is my righteousness. My faith rests not upon what I am or shall be or feel or know, but in what Christ is, in what He has done, and in what He is now doing for me. Hallelujah!” -Charles Haddon Spurgeon