Beware, this is my soul-baring version of blogging as therapy (my cousin calls it therablogging), so don’t be expecting any cute projects or bee updates here today =)
While we were in California, I received a letter from a sister we had spent some time with a few days earlier. Here are a few things she shared with me:
- I see you need someone to start lifting the weights you carry off of your back.
- As St. Augustine wrote, “Love God and do as you please.” Find Him, find His rest and peace, and then do what you think best. But find Him. Live immersed in grace.
Basically, she thinks that I am not living in the grace that God intends for his people. Of course, she’s absolutely right.
I have felt burdened and broken under the law. Not necessarily that I think that God is mean, but that doing things the “right” way is too hard. Or, just that I don’t know how best to help Everett and the pressure to help him and get dinner fixed and keep up with the laundry, etc. — it’s just way too much. I mean, if I’m a Christian then my job is to glorify Him, so I need to be a “good” mother – which means that my kids need to get enough rest, and eat healthy food, and not be rude or picky, and not be sick, and obey me all the time, etc. . . I actually want to be a perfect mother, a perfect homemaker, a perfect wife, a perfect cook, a perfect homeschooling mother, etc. . And when (through my own inadequacy or things completely beyond my control) my life doesn’t look like that (i.e. things are not perfect – not even close), I feel like a total failure and the shame is suffocating. Well, I think I’ve been making it a lot harder than it needs to be. This dear sister signed her letter “In His grace alone” which I’ve decided is going to be my new closing for letters. =)
So, I’ve felt like a few books have wandered into my must-read-ASAP stack, which is now two stacks on the mantle.
One of those books is Grace for the Good Girl: Letting go of the try hard life by Emily Freeman.
So, I’ve read this book before and it seems that I have forgotten all the lessons I learned/underlined. Some seeds were planted and I let Satan snatch then away =(
Well, I am rereading this book and I’d like to share a few snippets with you. Perhaps, in typing them, they will have more permanence in my spirit. And, perhaps, I will have some additional accountability by sharing this with the whole wide world.
- [Discussing a fork in the road: we can either try to Please God or Trust God,] If I am trying to please God, it is difficult to trust God. But when I trust God, pleasing Him is automatic. Anything we do to get life and identity outside of Christ is an idol, even service to Christ. He doesn’t want my service. He wants me. And from that life-giving relationship, “streams of living water will flow from within” (Jn7:38).
- Striving characterizes the law whereas rest characterizes grace.
- The law places responsibility on me to do, but grace is given by the initiative of God and invites me to be. Trying to keep the law leads to bondage. . . . But the grace of God brings freedom and power to do as He wills. Under the law, I struggle in vain attempts to control . . . Under Grace, my life is an easy expression of the Spirit. The law says obey. Grace says believe and obedience will follow.
- 2Cor3:4-6: “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
- Aside from accepting Jesus as your personal savior, there’s nothing left to do to gain God’s favor.
- When we take communion, we drink the blood (wine) and eat the body (bread). The blood is where Christ died for us, offering forgiveness. This was also represented in the garden with the killing of the animal. The body, though, is a remembrance that the Lord’s body died, was buried, and ROSE AGAIN! And since we died with Him, we also rose with Him! See Rom 6:4-8 and Col. 3:3. So, we need to remember the life part too!
- I need to read this every day, from p. 120:
God, who is love, loves you. Now, you can love others by serving as he leads. God says you already measure up in Christ (2Cor3:5-6). All your needs are met in Christ (Phil4:19). Now, you can listen and respond to His voice. In Christ, your spirit is united with God’s Spirit so it is possible to avoid sin (Col3:5-11). You are righteous because of Christ (2Cor5:21). Now you are free to live like it’s true. In the try-hard life [the flesh], your behavior determines your identity. But these verses describe a person who is loved by God with no strings attached.
- God’s desire is that we live in freedom and drink from the wide, deep, powerful River of Life. The masks we hide behind [the flesh] keep us from experiencing the fullness of life the way we were meant to live it.
The solution to this try-hard life, i.e. in the flesh, according to the author, is found in Colossians 3: receive, remain, respond, an remember.
Receive – Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts -v.15 (truth and trusting)
- There is a becoming that happens as we walk with Jesus, but it isn’t under a system of achieving. Rather, it is in the act of receiving. In order to receive, we have to first let go, to honestly release our right to hold on to those things we trust in for life, those counterfeit sources of truth and security.
- When [performers and achievers - ME!!!!] try to earn His love or be worthy of it, we actually push ourselves away from it.
Remain – Let the word of Christ dwell richly with you -v.16 (quiet and time)
- In the midst of grief, there is no such thing as strong women of God. There is only brokenness, desperate need, and little girls in Daddy’s lap. We are not called to be strong women.
- The job of the branch is not to make life happen, but to remain in the vine. . . . Stay. Abide. Remain. Believe. See Jn 15:1-5. Be. Trust. Receive. Respond. When I live as though I believe that’s true, activity doesn’t stop. Rather it takes on new life. . . . It is purposing in my heart not to fret.
Respond – Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father -v.17 (worship and service)
- We breathe in air and breathe out worship. We receive love and extend worship. We embrace children, offering worship. We comfort, we laugh, we mourn, we dance, we read, we dream, we exist–all worship. We pay the bills, we run on the treadmill, we enjoy a good movie, we make dinner, we welcome friends with open arms–worship, all worship. We send money and offer prayer and sit with a lonely neighbor, in Jesus’ name. We wait for love, we long for home, we pour out our hearts and hopes and fears and longing; we create with words and photos and colors and food, all beautiful acts of worship. But we don’t call it that. WE call those things living. But when the Spirit of the living God lives inside you, then your living is also your worship. See Rom 12:1; Col3:17
- When we depend on Jesus, when we know we can’t but He can, we worship. It is so much bigger than we let it be. When we let peace rule, we worship. When we let His word dwell richly within us, we worship. When we receive the gifts in life, both small and big, as from His hand, we offer worship.
Remember – Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. -vv.2-3