Here’s a worship song I could not stop listening to while on mission in the Czech Republic.
I was especially floored by the line “All my failures I tried to hide.” We don’t have to. We don’t have to. The grace of Christ forgives, equips, and transcends purely because of his love.
Every once in a while I’d retreat into my cabin and listen to this. I’d emerge refreshed and recharged for hours. I hope it does the same for you. Jam.
Fear was again flooding my heart as I stood to sing in church this weekend.
The kind of fear that confidently insists, more like a certainty – things are going to go wrong and there’s nothing you can do. You might have some experience with that. My hours situation at one of my jobs was hitting a severe snag and the next step was uncertain. The worst case scenario is so easy to jump to.
I’d been praying. But I took it another step that night and chose to worship through intentional song.
It was an act of defiance against the fear.
The time has come.
My Seattle Seahawks are again marching forward to war.
Every year, we go through this. We microanalyze the meaningless preseason games, discuss the September cutdowns to death, scrutinize every bit of offseason literature coming out of the city media, all in pursuit of one haunting question…do the Seahawks have a chance this year?
And every year, we Christians think about “that thing”. That breakthrough or victory or miracle or answer to prayer that we’re hoping for.
Maybe this will be the year that chronic illness finally goes into remission. The year you get out of debt. The year you get engaged. The year that gripping sin on your spouse finally gives way. Maybe you don’t know exactly what you want to see; you’re just hoping things will “get better” somehow.
Steven Furtick has a sermon called “Don’t Stop on Six”. It’s one of my favorites. The reference is to how the Israelites were commanded to march around Jericho seven times before releasing a shout, and how they would have missed the miracle had they stopped on the sixth lap. I love an inspirational sermon every once in a while, and “Don’t Stop on Six” is one of my favorites.
And yet…it makes me uneasy.
(Forgive me if this sounds like Amateur Hour Confessions – that’s pretty much exactly what we are.)
My friend and I completed a 35-mile backpacking trip near our home a couple weeks ago, and the one thing I couldn’t get out of my head was how present God was during the whole thing.
It’s not just about seeing his majesty in creation, either (though there was oodles of that – and no, we didn’t get any pictures, evil teases that we are).
When we’re down in the valley, life is a blur. The cushion of first-world existence surrounds us. Our social structures and bank accounts shield us from pain. Though we acknowledge these as gifts from God, his fortuitous presence in these blessings doesn’t exactly jump out at us. It’s harder to see the flashing neon “I DID THIS! – God” sign on those things. Crediting him must be done more intentionally, out of a knowledge of Scripture (James 1:17). Although, to be sure, James seems to think it a sin if we don’t.
But when you’re on the trail, you live hour by hour. And his hand is much more obvious.
Boom. Temptation lands.
Satan is enticing you to splurge through your new budget, or dial up that website you know should stay buried, or sabotage your efforts to show kindness at work by letting your temper fly towards a coworker, or whatever else has been convicting you lately. The temptation presses hard against your heart, like a gust of wind.
It isn’t actually the real problem.
There’s usually a “decision” phase in every temptation in which we’re still deciding whether to commit a sin. Sometimes it’s short or even near-instantaneous, a “cruise missile” moment (like the flare of a temper), but even then we have a split second to decide.
Do you notice an internal dialogue in those phases?
“You want to do this.”
“I don’t. But I kinda do, too.”
“Yes, you do.”
“But I shouldn’t.”
Tooling along a forest highway in the middle of nowhere a couple years ago, headed to a job interview, my breath catches a little. My eyes have just spotted the engine temperature gauge pointing in an unpleasant direction. I pull over and open the hood. The coolant reservoir is hissing, bubbling and trembling like a Yellowstone geyser.
Perfect. Interview aborted. Hope I can limp the 50 miles back to my mechanic. (Welcome to Montana.)
I get back in and start waiting for the engine to cool down. After five minutes spent listening to the double blinkers (“uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh“), the sweltering heat forces me out of the car and into the shade of a nearby tree.
Standing there, one thought inexorably seeps in: my bank account is going to feel this. Again.
And an answering thought on the heels of the first – harder to put words to, because it’s one of those deep-soul thoughts, more feeling than word.
This is pitiful.
Garn. I hate it when God saunters along and slaps the “sin” label on some innocuous thing I do every day.
I mean, how disruptive can God get? One moment I’m sitting there drinking a mineral water and minding my own business, and the next moment he’s blowing up my whole worldview. What’s a man to do?
Well…repent, to start with.