Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pastoral Pings ~ From Losing at Trying Harder, to Winning at Giving Up

          I have now been around long enough to see patterns in my life for which I am very thankful. Perhaps it would be better to say that I see growth in my life, minute changes that have added up to encouraging signs of God’s transforming work within me. The one-step-at-a-time mindset doesn’t seem to show much at the beginning of the journey. Further along the way we grow in our thankfulness that we started out when we did.

          Today this hit home for me with another awareness that, whenever God shows me deficiencies in my life, my first inclination is to just get about doing something about it. I grew up learning that if something was wrong, things would go better for me if I fixed it. I have had countless negative examples of people abandoning me because I wasn’t able to fix something “enough”. Together these messages taught me to respond to problems by trying harder, doing more, giving it another shot, and whatever other hopeless descriptions could be added to the mix.

          God’s way is different. Yes, he does show me things about myself that are in dire need of improvement. However, he doesn’t expose these things with the law-based hopelessness of me trying to do something good enough to please a God who is infinitely holy. He exposes these things so I will feel my need of him and cry out for the help he longs to give me.

          Put another way, God shows me my neediness in order to fling me into the realm of his loving mercy and grace, to bring me both humbly and courageously before the throne of grace and mercy, so that I can receive the grace and mercy I need at this time, in whatever I am going through.

          His word states it like this: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.[1]

          God clearly wants me to see Jesus as someone who sympathizes with my weakness (the double-negative makes for a strong positive statement). When his Spirit exposes some weakness in me, some sin, iniquity, flaw, failure, mistake or any other synonymic expression, the picture is still the same: that Jesus is able to sympathize with me in those experiences because he knows what it was like to be tempted “as we are”.

          However, because Jesus never sinned in his temptations, he gives me two things. The first is that he is able to sympathize with me instead of judge me. But the other is that he is the perfect high priest I can come to because of the fact he did not sin in his temptations. If Jesus had sinned, I would have his sympathy, but without a Savior. Because he was tempted, but without sin, I have both his sympathy, and a Savior to help me.

          So, when I see God’s Spirit showing me something in need of improvement, he doesn’t want me trying harder to fix it. He wants me drawing near with confidence to the very throne of grace that will give me the mercy and grace “to help in time of need.”

          This morning was a time of need; Jesus sympathized; I came; he met my need. Now, on with my day to find out why he got me started on that foot!

          From my heart,


© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Hebrews 4:15-16

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