I grow weary of waiting to be more than I am…to overcome weaknesses of personality, of upbringing, of an underlying shortness of faith (for want of a better way to put it). Will I go to my grave frustrated at my feeble prayer life, for instance? Will I be forever fearful of the unknown, the “what if”s of life? Or will I grow out of these things?
“When I grow up…”
When does that time come when we have grown into all the things we had imagined we’d be? During the busy intense years of family life one can safely hold to dreams that will be fulfilled when there is more time and leisure to pursue them. If this intense pace ever slows, by reason of health or changes of place or occupation there comes an uncomfortable season of reckoning…What exactly am I becoming? Where is the prayer warrior I dreamed a Grandma would naturally be? Where the seasoned confident woman who rises to meet her lot in life with a mature faith that doesn’t bow any longer to guilt and fear.
Guilt over being less than I should be lingers like a gray cloud over my now graying head. I shrug it off at the best of times and try to dissect it at the worst of times. A sense that I am not ‘enough’ to be worthy of the Kingdom of God dogs my days. I do not do ‘enough’, pray ‘enough’, contribute ‘enough’…Nor is it for want of time to pursue these ideals! That has become obvious in my present context of relatively uninterrupted leisure. Then what is lacking? Do I just need to ‘do more’, set better goals, establish more concise lists, get organized, shun distractions and be more sober-minded?!
When I air this sense of guilt, my husband reminds me of the verse I know well, (in my head): There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. My response: ‘Yes, but…’ as I continue to imagine my life as one glaring sin of omission. How is this not condemnable? Inexcusable?
My real problem is not an inadequate prayer life, though that is an issue I wish I could resolve. My problem is unbelief that takes the form of an inner resistance to walking by faith. I want a system to live by, a clear-cut rule of rights and wrongs, a schedule I can keep, a list that once prayed through is ‘enough’. I want to ‘do righteousness’ on my own steam and then to know I have done it! But the Gospel talks of a faith that rests all on what Christ has already done. It speaks of a life that is a walk of faith as long as we live in these bodies, a life that calls us to defy and deny the allure of the seen, felt and heard wherever it contradicts what God has said. Here the accuser of the brethren has no place. Who can curse the one God has blessed? Who dares judge the tottering one when God has said He will make him stand?
It occurred to me lately that God is not expecting me to be fearless and confident in and of myself (or to pray without ceasing by my sheer effort) but to believe that He is all I need in the face of things I fear and things that undo me. He has intentionally not chosen the strong and able, the ‘all-together’ confident ones, the movers and shakers of this world ‘so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.’ (I Cor.1:29) It is the weak ones who have the potential to best reflect His power. It is the humble that receive grace to be all He intends. He is not asking for my strength, but for my faith. Meanwhile He works in me to will and to do according to His good pleasure in His good time…
I’m slated to lie on an operating table in a couple week’s time and have surgery on the muscles surrounding my right eye. When the office called confirming the appointment my nerves were set a' jangle. All the worst-case-scenarios flitted through my mind, now riddled with doubt. Was this really a good idea or should I just ‘leave well enough alone’ and live with things as they are—with eye strain and un-remediated vision issues? Or should I trust myself to the knife of a skilled surgeon and the hope that congenital defect can be resolved for the better. I had made the decision, trusting this was God’s provision and direction for me; now to stand unshaken in faith.
This is perhaps not so very unlike the life of faith I am called to live. I have trusted myself to a skilled Surgeon. He has me under the knife. He intends to create the image of His Son in me. The old heart has been replaced with a new one, my spirit has been given the life of His Spirit, he’s renewing my mind with truth and cleaning out old habits and thought patterns that don’t fit anymore…And one day, in the blink of an eye, it will be done. I’ll rise from the table that is this lifetime, transformed into a new make and model that will never again face fear or cringe in guilt. I will be ‘like unto his glorious body’, righteous through and through.
I’m looking forward to that hope. And I’m learning to listen to His Word and His Spirit as they show me ‘this is the way; walk in it’. And I’m thankful for this forgiveness in which I stand by faith, freed from ‘everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses’. (Acts 13:39). I do believe He is at work in my days; Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel…which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. I Cor.15:1,2
For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. I Cor1:19
And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Rom.8:23-26
Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. I Cor.15:49
We know that when he appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. I Jn.3:2
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Phil.3:20,21
Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. Gal.6:18