I fall down. I do. I fumble and freeze up in self-consciousness sometimes, when I’d rather be at ease and comfortable with others. I get steamed and have a hard time decompressing or not making sure those who’ve pissed me off know they are to blame.
Yet I yearn to be gentle, to be generously expressing the life of God in me, to yield, to be so much in love with the compassionate, kind, wedding-party-at-Cana-miracle-wine-producing, man-who-saw-and-valued-women, Jesus-who-stayed-faithful-to-the-task-at-hand God of the universe that I can’t help but give myself in service to others.
Then, I have a day like today. I resent people and feel they are shirking responsibility, dropping off their unpleasant, difficult tasks with someone else and going to play. And I am not the one partying, but the “someone else” stuck with the work.
In moments like these, every negative voice and message in my head presses in, pointing out how I’ve not measured up, how I’ve missed the mark and failed. I can put a smile on it. I can brush it off, come home, settle on walking for 30 minutes instead of the 45 I’d planned, take my iPod, listen to a talk, and, gleaning bits of and pieces from its truths, get just what this very weary heart needed.
And here’s the takeaway: When Jesus steps into the picture, when we shift our thoughts (the negative, accusing thoughts) and look to him and decide to give him those thoughts, we place our hope on the cross of Christ and on what he accomplished there. EVERY NEGATIVE, CONDEMNING, AND ACCUSATORY THOUGHT belongs on that cross with him. The whole point of the cross is to settle the score with all that wages war against the freedom and wholeness of humankind and to unlock the door to freedom.
It is like a huge deposit to a bank account in our name, with wholeness and freedom and release available to us – if we draw on it (I’m a banker – I can’t help but like this analogy). If I carry the weight of releasing myself, I am pretty much saying I can successfully win this war on my own – that I don’t need the freedom he offers. Sure, I can accept the gift of salvation. I can acknowledge that the bank account has been opened in my name. I can carefully file my bank statements and say – yup, I am a rich woman. I’ve got these checks and I can use them anytime I want. But if I never use them, what good are they?
The very act of rejecting the negative thought, of sending the accusatory voice to the cross of Christ is the power of the cross at work. It is an act of faith to look to the cross and trust that it cancels out the power of death in me yesterday, tomorrow, and today. Sending accusing thoughts to the cross is an invitation to more of the power of the cross, to more of his kingdom-come-will-be-done peace, and to more of the power of God making his home in me. I can miss the gift of LIFE and FREEDOM and WHOLENESS he offers, the gift of release from self-condemnation. He says, Give it to me. Come to me, all you who are heavy-laden. There is a release in that moment and God says – You are free. Free to receive God’s grace. Free to receive God’s good gift. Free to receive my love for you.
I will fall down again. I will. But, I lean in to the One who is greater than my sin and shame, greater than anything that condemns me. For if “the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)