I think one of the best fruits of this “Grace Awakening” is that Christians are beginning to own their old natures instead of trying to disguise them. We came to Christ, saying “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling,” and then some time after that we started gathering up externals like Wilma Flintstone with a credit card. Now, we are looking at our hands and finding them to be empty still. What I mean is, we are stopping to think about what Robert Robinson wrote:
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
Are you “prone to wander”? I know I am. I am so easily distracted. Reminds me of the fellow in Screwtape who was distracted in church by a feather on a lady’s hat. I can be that way. I don’t sit up front out of piety. I sit there because the less I have to observe, the better I’ll pay attention. When it comes to spiritual things, I can have the attention span of a two year old. I read it, I forget it. It helps me to understand scriptures like Deuteronomy 6…to have the Word everywhere I go. To do the same with my kids. Listen to it, read it, see it, say it, sing it. Often.
For a long time there has been a sort of facade that was considered normal…you know…the church face. If we look okay, use the right words, own the right Bible, are “there every time the door is open” (IOW, the “externals” referred to above), then we’re good to go. Thank God, we are becoming dissatisfied with the charade. The Spirit is working among God’s people and helping them to becoming willing to strip away the outward appearance, to stand shoulder to shoulder with their Maker and Lord, and scrutinize their hearts. I love this:
Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. ~2 Cor 3:3
It is time to get past extremes…the propensity to either gloss over or explain away our struggle with sin, or, on the other hand, to become morbidly obsessed to the degree that we cannot see the light. Our adversary loves extremes. Whether we are careless, or desperately preoccupied…he loves both options. I’ve said often that humans do not excel at balance. We seek it, and we fail. The desire for harmony is compelling and the attainment thereof, illusive. Only God can synthesize everything so it comes out right in the balances. Tim Keller describes it well:
“The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone…I think of myself less.” ~The Reason for God
Fact is, our old nature is rabid. It has an insatiable hunger. It froths at the mouth. It is not reasonable. It is ravenous, with violent, grasping jaws. It wants….notoriety, wealth, acceptance, power…in every form. It wants satisfaction which can only be achieved on the horizontal. And so we are left still wanting. I am reminded of Dr. Lee Roberson when he advised the student body in chapel, “You’ve got to get your want-er right!” Problem is, you can’t make it right. To attempt it is nothing better than “turning over a new leaf”…it is ineffectual. No, this is divine work. You dare not face this foe alone. It requires sanctifying and cleansing, with the washing of water by the Word (Eph 5:26). You can’t muster it. You must use the Sword; open the Book. Often. This is the arsenal of grace from which the Spirit works.
We have been malnourished for too long. We have become emaciated. We have no strength, no muscle. The soldier’s armor cannot be borne by weaklings. Is it any wonder we have not been able to stand up or hold up our shield against the fiery darts, much less wield the sword? This is my prayer for myself and the readers of this blog, taken from one of my favorite scripture prayers:
Ephesians 3:14-21 “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. 20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly [love that!] above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”