Read His Words Before Ours!
“For I know that nothing good dwells in me.”
“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
Both are quotes from the apostle Paul. (Romans 7:18 and 1 Corinthians 2:2)
Both have rubbed me the wrong way for a good number of years.
I remember hearing these words as a child and becoming indignant in my defensive little soul, “But I do work hard. I am a good girl. I know lots of things about the Bible and plenty of other things too, not just Jesus’ crucifixion.”
How desperately I wanted to be good, to be found working hard, to be exceptionally smart, and for someone to recognize me as valuable.
Like the rest of humanity, the mold of childhood was the mold I carried into adulthood,
and even now it’s sharp edges surprise me at its persistence.
The self-made, independent,
can’t-trust-anyone-but-me, good girl
I had worked hard to become so insistently
is one I face regularly in the mirror.
Whether it’s parenting, theology, marriage, friendship, or any number of other areas, that little girl defiance raises her hand and steps forward, chest puffed out,
gleam in her eye, “I’ve got this, I am a good girl, I know lots of things.”
What I didn’t realize is how hard this attitude
pushes against the heart of the One who loves me.
When I was little, my younger brother was my best friend and with frequent moves he was often my only friend. Being siblings and best friends, the natural thing to do together was get into trouble. On one such occasion, Brother and I felt it would be a terribly fun idea to remove the screen from the kitchen window and jump from the single story. Having accomplished this feat with a good degree of difficulty as the frame was old, the hinges rusty, and the window sill quite filthy, we gleefully enjoyed jumping from the window and playing all sorts of imaginative games. Then, being the older, clearly wiser sister, I decided it was time to put the screen back before a parent came home to survey the sight.
The trouble was, the screen obstinately refused to be placed back, seemingly enjoying its freedom as much as we had enjoyed ours. Our panic escalated as our palms grew increasingly sweaty and we batted back and forth about who’s ridiculous idea it had been in the first place to remove it. Eventually, resigned to failure, I cleverly schemed we deliver the obdurate screen to the pile of rubbish in the garden entirely out of sight.
But my father discovered the screen-less window, and a re-enactment of the Garden of Eden seemed thrust upon us as my dear brother was quick to blame me as his own “Eve”. Father’s anger was unabated by any of my well-thought through defenses and my punishment was quick and sure.
No amount of me (my abilities, my wit, or my stubbornness) could wrench me free from my punishment. There was no grace, there was no gentle, tender hug of forgiveness.
Here, hinged between a consequence and the absolute finality that I, on my own, had no ability to deliver myself from the incoming reprimand, is found desperation.
Desperate to be free.
Desperate for shame to be buried.
Desperate to be rescued.
Desperate for grace.
The backdrop changes and it isn’t about two elementary kids and their shenanigans,
it’s about a marriage spiraling out of control. Desperate.
It’s about finances that aren’t making it. Desperate.
It’s about a looming health issue, a broken friendship, a son or daughter who turned away, or an ugly, festering wound from your past. Desperate.
Ironically enough, when we find ourselves sitting here in this place called Desperate,
the Father God turns His face upon us.
Not to shame or punish us, but to awaken us, calling us into a rich inheritance of grace.
He stood in our place, took our punishment, went to Desperate for us, and offered Himself, all of Himself, as our own portion to claim as His daughters.
David the psalmist, David the king, David the shepherd boy,
David who walked through more desperate lands than we likely ever will,
lifted his head and sang out, “The Lord is my chosen portion… The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore, my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.”
Read those precious words again. Slowly. Notice David’s word choices.
He chose the Lord.
God had met David in Desperate, awakened his heart and given him the choice to remain in Desperate, struggling, fighting, yet knowing he couldn’t escape,
or accept the goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living (Psalm 27:13).
David chose the Lord, and good awaited him.
David knew if he chose to put the Lord first, David’s heart would never be shaken and he would never again need to live in Desperate.
You make known to me the path of life;
in Your presence there is fullness of joy;
at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
David had the same choice each of us do.
Live in Desperate or be freed in Grace.
Paul’s words come back again, but now they are a sweet fragrance.
After choosing grace and the salvation that was purchased for me,
I, along with all my performance that will forever fail,
all my success that will never be enough,
all my expectations I can never meet,
no longer matter because I know that apart from Christ, “nothing good dwells in me”.
“…Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
Everything else pales so intensely it becomes insignificant in light of knowing Jesus Christ and Him crucified to set me free.
Free from Desperate.
Awakened to Life!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!