I often find myself asking, “God what do you want me to do?” I’m such a pragmatic systems person, just tell me what to do, keep it simple and I’m good to go. Jesus’ answer to this question can really frustrate me,
John 6:28-29 (NCV) “The people asked Jesus, ‘What are the things God wants us to do?’ 29 Jesus answered, ‘The work God wants you to do is this: Believe the One he sent.’”
According to this scripture God requires me to believe, to trust. It’s not a neat, here is what you need to do, it’s a deep heart question, a deliberate way of thinking that results in changed actions.
Believe and trust God. This is hard. Harder than just blindly following rules. The obstacle that stands in my way of deeper trust is accepting God’s love for me. In the past, I would have never said I didn’t think I was worthy of love. If anything I would have said I thought too highly of myself. Over the last year and a half as God has worked to reveal and heal, He has shown me, ever so gently, I did not know my own heart. My actions showed otherwise.
Learning to believe Jesus, to accept His love for me, to have my identity rooted in Him tangibly, has been a journey of internalizing and accepting grace. When I internalize grace I can face my shame and fear whether it be a result of my poor actions or someone else’s bad behavior towards me. I’ve learned that in the past when I’ve thought I was communicating the right and loving way I was actually avoiding conflict. Where some may simply not communicate at all, others, like me, can communicate loudly, but poorly. It isn’t intentional, it is childhood conditioning that I am learning after many years, to see and address by Christ’s strength, not my own.
It took me a long time to realize that when someone is making me uncomfortable or hurting me in some way I can internalize it as, “I failed you and the way you are treating me is the result of my failure”, or “I’m not worthy of being treated better” but what I communicate in my shame is, “It’s not my fault but yours or someone else’s”, or in my fear, “I know I did X, but I fixed it so we don’t have to talk about it, let’s just move on.” The latter is fear of rejection if I am not perfect. I’m learning that in those moments I am my own god, not accepting God’s grace but wanting to earn it and others acceptance through my actions.
Mark 5: 35-36 “While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of the synagogue leader. They said, “Your daughter is dead. There is no need to bother the teacher anymore.” 36 But Jesus paid no attention to what they said. He told the synagogue leader, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’”
When I grow in my trust I can see and think past circumstances. I love the passage in Mark. Here is a man who has lost his precious love, his daughter. There is no hope in this, yet Jesus addresses not the circumstances but the heart, the heart of fear and trust. This is incredibly hard but it IS possible. I am seeing Jesus resurrect new life in me beyond what I thought was possible. I’m learning what it looks like to step out on faith, one day at a time, so that He can work within me and produce His fruit out of me.
Heb 13:20 20-21 “I pray that the God of peace will give you every good thing you need so you can do what he wants. God raised from the dead our Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, because of the blood of his death. His blood began the eternal agreement that God made with his people. I pray that God will do in us what pleases him, through Jesus Christ, and to him be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Acknowledging our pain, imperfection and doubt is where God’s love comes in. When we fully accept God’s love and acceptance, it gives us the strength and courage to have healthy boundaries to love others better. We no longer feel the need to be perfect, but rather feel freedom to fail and to hold others accountable which results in us communicating in a more loving way, in knowing and doing the things He wants because they are done in Love.
Is 62: 1-3 “Because I love Jerusalem, I will continue to speak for her; for Jerusalem’s sake I will not stop speaking until her goodness shines like a bright light, until her salvation burns bright like a flame. 2 Jerusalem, the nations will see your goodness, and all kings will see your glory. Then you will have a new name, which the Lord himself will give you. 3 You will be like a beautiful crown in the Lord’s hand, like a king’s crown in your God’s hand.”