Right now I am slowly reading through a book by one of my favorite authors and speakers, Elyse Fitzpatrick. The books title, Counsel from the Cross, caught my eye at a conference that Elyse spoke at back in February. The questions asked at the end of each chapter are so thought-full and provoking I am actually enjoying going over them. So many times those questions just want me to talk about my feelings that I skip right over them. In the first chapter the authors pose a question that still has be thinking and I am on chapter 4. The first question is ‘Have the gospel truths of grace alone faith alone become white noise to you?’ and the second is ‘What reaction do you have to your own or others sins and failures that might signal when your heart has grown deaf to Christ’s song of grace?’
Hopefully I am not completely unaware of myself when I make this statement. But I think people would see me as a person who has an okay grasp on the gospel or a grace giving individual. The reason I say that is more than once I have had people share a lot with me in a short amount of time. I’m talking real short, like standing in the Walmart check out line short. Things bigger or deeper than the weather. Which I think is great. I am not so good at small talk so I’d rather talk about something bigger than the weather. However I’d say about 99.9 percent of the time I have no idea what to say back. I think that is the reason this book was so appealing to me. When people do open up how do I connect their lives with the love of Christ. I have had to learn to just shut up a lot. Silence is golden. However when people are looking back at me with tears in there eyes and a shaky voice it would be nice to be able to have the right words to remind them of how the cross has changed things.
I may have picked the book up to learn something about others but it also has illuminated things about myself. Being the gospel and grace loving and giving individual I think I am I don’t think my first response to the question of ‘has the gospel becoming white noise to you’ would have been yes.
I like to think I am an advocate for the gospel. It’s pretty simple. I know that I forget about it, I forget about all that happened on the cross almost the second that I hear it. Because of that forgetfulness I know I, and those around me, need to hear it often, clearly and loudly. One thing I’m so aware of is the more I forget about the gospel the more important I become. There are so many times I struggle with the fact that it was finished on the cross. I always want to have some skin in the game and add to it. In my self righteousness I think I can add to the completed work of Christ. I struggle with wanting to add to the cross because I see a disconnect (that should not be there but I put it there). I have a disconnect between the work of the cross and my ‘work’ or vocations that God had given me, that God is using me in. I need to stress this disconnect should not be there. I put it there because of my desire to do it on my own. My sinful nature gets all up in the face of the cross and says thanks but I’ve got it from here. That division and … should not be there. It is though. I’m a work in process so it is surely changing. The work of Christ is at work in my life on a daily basis so it is changing but its slower than molasses in January. He who started this good work in you will bring it to completion…(Phil 1:6). (Ephesians 2:10)
In summary of my life experience with this wanting to do more…The more I forget about the gospel, the bigger deal I become. That seems all fine and dandy until things end up in the gutter. I’ll let you in on a secret…when I’m thinking I’m a pretty big deal…it always ends up in the gutter. Either I am a self righteous fool or am left with no hope.
So back to the original question what did this chapter and questions illuminate for me? I have a tough time applying the message of the gospel to my life and the life of those closest to me. The lady in the check outline at Walmart might get the gospel, the person at church who needs the cross, but my husband and kids they receive my law and judgement. And why is that, because I have to be the change agent, I think in my self righteousness I have to do something to change them.
It’s revealed to me when I can’t or don’t apply the gospel to the sin in my children’s lives. When I want to constantly give them how to’s instead of God has done or God is doing or God is bigger than this or you are a baptized child of God. You have been called, gifted, enlightened, and will be kept in the true Christian faith not because of you or what you are doing but because of the work of the Holy Spirit in your life.
I understand I need to guide my kiddos. But I need to convey to them that they are not what they do. They are more than just a kid who picks up or doesn’t, does or doesn’t yell, shares or hoards, listens or runs away.God did put me here for a reason. He has placed me in this vocation not because of what I can accomplish but because in my weakness he can accomplish great things. But why am I constantly reminding them about how to change the bad in their lives instead of constantly reminding them of all the good they possess because of their baptism, because of the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. I’m not even talking about striking a balance. I’m talking about communicating to those adorable faces every day as often as I can how big our God is and how much he has done for them, and how ginormous his love for them is. They are better at reminding me of it when they say God loves us a billion times a hundred billion times a million billion. And all I can say is you are right. I think Jesus loves us even more than that. I don’t think we can even understand how much he loves us.
Thank goodness God use the good and bad in our lives to show exactly how much we need him. And to show us exactly how much he loves us. NO matter how quickly we forget or how bad we are at showing it to others. Thank goodness that you and me are loved in spite of ourselves and in spite of what we do.
Ephesians 2:8-10 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God has prepare beforehand that we should walk in them.”