It was the wee hours of the morning and the sun was still nowhere in sight. I’d just reluctantly ended my Quiet Time and was getting off the bed to head out for my long commute to work.
Then He stopped me.
My last statement to Him had been a painful confession: I trust You, Lord. It’s me I’m not so sure about.
I thought it would be the conclusion of the conversation we’d been having since I opened my eyes to start my day. Here He was presenting me with an all-too familiar scenario. Wanting me to go down a road I’d been before and failed miserably while at it. Oh, what a beautiful dream He had for me but there was every chance I was going to make a mess of it. It seemed easier to just say no to it and save myself the disappointment. No matter that this was a deep longing I had had for years.
Mary, have you submitted yourself to Me?
Wait, what? Where did that come from?
He asked again.
Well, yeah. I’ve given you my mind and heart the best way I know how.
So, why don’t you trust Me?
But Lord, I told You. It’s me I don’t trust, not You.
No, Mary. If you’ve given me your all, as you say you have, then I have power in your life. So it’s actually Me You don’t trust.
I recounted this conversation a few weeks ago as I was leading devotion in our Sunday church service.
God had me share on a topic that we’d been talking about since the year began – entitlement and grace.
Entitlement – the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment. (Dictionary)
Grace – the kindness of God’s love expressed. (God’s heart)
At the core of these conversations and half the devotion is this shattering ache in God’s heart: there are far too many believers walking around feeling undeserving of Him, everything He is and everything that He has for them.
I think Jenn Johnson describes it best in a video snippet I once watched. She speaks as a parent of 3 children and says that it would break her heart if any time she said/did something nice for her kids, they rejected it and said they didn’t deserve it.
Yet how many times do we respond to the promises of God, our heavenly Father, with doubt and fear? With excuses and a mile-long list of things standing in our way?
The Lord told me that many of us are doing the devil’s work in our lives. His words, not mine. We argue ourselves out of the miracles He has in store for us, as Bill Johnson puts it. When He speaks into our lives wanting to do wondrous things in us, for us and through us, we quickly build a rather impressive case full of all the reasons why His good intentions are an impossibility. A case full of why He shouldn’ts and why we can’ts.
If anyone can find a reason why God’s goodness doesn’t apply in our lives, it’s us. So when the devil takes a peek at our lives, there’s really nothing left for him to do. That’s how good our self-sabotage has become.
There really are no words to describe what God’s broken heart sounds like. Not even God can love us by force. It is an invitation that must either be accepted or rejected. And it’s counter-intuitive to say yes to getting saved and no to everything else it comes with.
We are entitled to grace. Inherently deserving of this special privilege.
We are entitled to the kindness of His love unconditionally. Whether it’s our best day or our worst day. Whether we think it and feel it or not. Whether we’ve just made the best decision or the worst mistake of our lives.
Unconditional. Without measure or pre-set requirements.
We are entitled to God – His heart of love and hand of provision – as His Beloved.
The cross did far more than get us a ticket to heaven. Eternity is not some vague ethereal destination somewhere in space; it’s a spiritual dimension that’s existed even before time. A dimension that takes us back to how things were in Eden – before the fall of man. When Adam and Eve freely and intimately fellowshipped with God.
Eternal life begins the moment we say yes to Jesus not when we get buried six feet under. So when God speaks of things that are beyond what we think possible, He wants us to go to Him with the open expectation (read: faith) that He has the how figured out. Instead of listing all the hindrances in your way as though they have the final say, how about listing those same hindrances and asking God what’s the best way to deal with them?
We really do need to stop making defeated prayers (oh the paradox) as though our God is not Creator of the universe and sovereign over all, including every hindrance in your life. Even if that hindrance is you. If we believe He is who He says He is, can we start praying and living like it? In our every day moments not just putting on a good show in church on Sunday.
The conversation I started this post with happened years ago but it changed my life. I started saying yes t0 trusting God even with myself – the entirety of my being, good, bad and ugly. Because it’s an every day affair not a eventful one-off.
So here’s my challenge for you today.
You know those grand incredulous promises God has given you? Those ones so dear to you you’re terrified they’re too good to be true.
Say yes to every one. Pro Tip: If you think too much, then it would be advisable to think about everything God says He is.
Do what He’s been urging you to as the first step. Refer to Pro Tip above and When Faith Leaps.
Then watch Him do what only He can. Truckloads of popcorn will likely be required.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor demons, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8: 31-39 ESV/NIV
P.S.: Because there was no way half-a-year’s worth of conversation was going to fit into 1 devotion or 1 post, I’ll be breaking down more on Entitlement & Grace in our homes, schools, workplaces and churches in the coming weeks. 🙂