HIS WORK OR MY EFFORTS?
AS FAR AS THE EAST IS FROM THE WEST
“Jesus show me just how far the east is from the west cause i can’t bear to see the man in me rising up in me again”
Do you know the feeling of shame, hopelessness, anxiety and despair that comes whenever you feel like you are not measuring up, like you are falling short, like you need to try harder, do better, be holier, pray more, read more, go to church more, be nicer, etc?
That feeling of guilt that surrounds you sometimes when you remember your sins, your shortcomings? Like when you yelled at your kids in frustration? Or when you said something mean out of anger and pain to someone that hurt you? Or when you forgot to keep a promise with someone and you let them down? Or maybe when you did that thing in secret you struggle with and that you promised you wouldn’t do again? That secret sin you’ve been struggling with that no one else knows about but that haunts you and makes you feel so crappy that you can’t shake it off and have victory over it?
I cringe at the thought of me going back to some of the things God has liberated me from, freed me from, and healed me from. So, when i see some of these things wanting to rise their ugly heads again, I fear, i shutter, i get anxious and stressed out and allow for the feeling of hiding and running away to fill my heart and mind.
Do you know what i am talking about? Maybe you are different than me. Maybe you never hear words of accusation, guilt, torment and shame that make you want to hide, reach for some kind of comfort, make you anxious, angry at times, frustrated with the way things are going. Maybe you are able to quiet all those voices that tempt you to run away from God and make you and me hide from Him like Adam and Eve did when they disobeyed. Maybe you are able to escape and triumph over the temptation to avoid coming to God because we have come to the “conclusion” that “i am so flawed, so broken, so messy and so rebellious that there’s no way God could or wold take me in and forgive me for the 1000000000000000th time”.
“I’ve failed so many times…i’ve done it again”
And we feel the need to try harder, to make more promises and sacrifices, to try an appease this God we think of as a strict ruler, a righteous judge and mad and angry Father, who is disappointed with us and looks at us with this “OMG, you did it again” look on his face.
So we say “I’ll go to church more” or “i’ll pray more” or “i’ll read the bible more” or “i’ll try harder at being nicer, kinder, more generous, etc”
But it doesn’t last. Soon after that we fail again and there we go all over again. Vicious cycle.
And it will never end. Because that is what it is…A CYCLE. Round and round it goes.
So, what’s the answer?
I have been reading this book called “Abiding in Christ” by Andrew Murray. And it has been a beautiful read and an amazing tool for me to remember how it all works. How my relationship with Jesus works. How His freedom and love and forgiveness and justification and redemption and restoration and sanctification works.
There’s so much i could write about this, but i feel like these couple thoughts he shares with us sums up what i am trying to say here.
All our striving to be better, to be holier, to grow, to make up for our shortcomings and to please our Father (cause we think he needs to be pleased with our performance and our good works and deeds) will never get us anywhere. We cannot do anything on our own. He says it In John 15:5 – “Apart from me you can do nothing!!!”
We cannot be better. We cannot become holier, We cannot please him with our works and deeds. We cannot appease His righteous wrath. His word says in Romans 2:5 But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 He will judge everyone according to what they have done. 7 He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. 8 But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness. 9 There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile.[a] 10 But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.
So, today, i cannot rely on anything good i can accomplish or do. I CAN’T! I cannot measure up to His standards. I cannot win His approval.
So, then, how can i find peace in the midst of the turmoil, confusion, guilt, shame, torment, and struggle in my heart and mind? How can i find rest in the midst of all the accusations that come my way, about who I am and what i’ve done?
I need to remember that His sacrifice has been the only thing that has satisfied God’s ultimate standard and His wrath has been appeased and His verdict has been paid for and our freedom has been bought and our salvation has been granted and our inheritance and adoption has been established and our forgiveness has been made possible.
And this is His doing. Ephesians 2:1-10 declare this truth. And verse 9 sums it up. “Not by our own works…”
So, what Andrew Murray says is this “remembering that what we do is only the manifestation of what God is doing in us. The establishing in Christ is HIS WORK. He accomplishes it by stirring us to watch, wait and work. But this he can do with power only as we stop interrupting Him by our self-working, as we accept in faith the dependent posture that honors Him and opens the heart to let Him work”
You see, friends, even the work of us growing and maturing and being victorious over anything in our lives comes from Him. It is His work in us, as we yield to His power and His will everyday, that will enable us to overcome. It is as we learn to abide in Him, trust His work in us, become fully surrendered to His love, and trust Him with all of our hearts that we will be able to experience the true transforming power of His spirit in us and that we will be able to become more and more like Him in our everyday lives!
Be encouraged today. You cannot do it alone and on your own. You were not meant to.
What you and I were meant to do is to return to Him, to abide in Him, to listen, to BE IN HIS PRESENCE, and as we do this, He will lovingly mold us, transform us and change us into His perfect image.