So I just spent a week blogging about ways my life could use discipline… but as I was jogging yesterday, I realized that I cannot talk about these things without also talking about the most important principle of my life.
You see, freedom, specifically, my freedom in Christ, is one of the most defining characteristics of my existence. I grew up in a faithful Christian home, full of grace filled believers. But somehow, I grew up with the misconception that living a life as a Christ follower involved toeing the line in all areas. I was a dedicated do-gooder, a person who believed that living in a way that pleased God meant that I had to beat myself into submission. Although I could define grace if asked, I lived as if it had no impact on my life and my world.
So what happened to change things? I messed up. I made mistakes. Big ones. Ones that went against my definition of who I was, and flew in the face of what I had decided a ‘good Christian’ should be. My selfish and immature 19 year old mistakes wrecked my model of Christianity and I found myself at a Crossroads: walk away from my faith in disgrace, or engage with God on new terms.
Once I wrecked my paradigm of Good Christian Behavior, the Bible began to make more sense. 900 some pages of people messing up, and God remaining faithful. Before, I read these scriptures as a Pharisee, scoffing at the Israelites’ hardheadedness. Now, I comprehended the message that God was SHOUTING through these pages- there is simply no way to be good enough to earn your way into heaven.
You can’t do it.
And yet, God still loves us. Has redeemed us. Sent his Son to suffer and die and pay the price of our hardheadedness, our sin, our stiff necked pride. Through Jesus, we have been given a precious gift: freedom. Our very inability to be good enough to win God’s favor invites us into a world of adventure. One where failure is acceptable, even expected. One where we have the opportunity to discover who we really are, and in turn, more of who God is.
Yes. We try to honor God with our choices. Yes. Discipline is part of the Christian walk. But discipline inevitably leads to failure. And sometimes, deliberately breaking the rules we set for ourselves reminds us of who is ultimately in charge.
So when I wake up tired or discouraged, I give myself permission to fail. To fall short of the 20 mile march. To leave the laundry unfolded. To turn the 8 PM rule into the 4 PM rule, or to burn the midnight oil, whatever is required to honor the needs of my soul. And in these permissions, I am also realizing that I am free. As a child of Christ, my worth isn’t set upon what I accomplish, the cleanliness of my house, the behavior of my kids or the balance in my checkbook. My identity is hidden in Him, and I am free to rest in the shadow of his wings.
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.