If you grew up in church like I did, you probably often heard the words, “You are not saved based on good works! You are saved by grace through faith!” I would smile and nod along. Absolutely, of course! God is not saving me based on what I accomplish. Yes, yes, yes.
I heard all of that and understood, but as an adult who loves goals and checklists, and achievements I now often get bogged down in accomplishing and forget what it means to be saved by grace through faith.
I grew up in what most of my friends would consider a small town, but if they only knew how big it was compared to places like Ocilla or Fitzgerald. My “small town” was actually sort of a big town, but how do you explain that to somebody from New York or DC or anyone not from around here really?
I then went to a university that felt like a small town but was definitely bigger than my hometown. And now I live in a massive city. Huge shift, right?
The hustle and bustle of the city is something I love to hate and hate to love. It’s thrilling to have something new to do every day, every hour even if I want, but sometimes the achiever in me goes into overdrive trying to accomplish as much as possible here.
I’ve found myself lately trying to make plans with as many friends as I can, work out as many days as I can, spend time with Jesus throughout the day, work my full-time job, write, so many things.
And in my soul it never feels good enough. I feel like I never get enough done. I never get through every item on my checklist. If I go out with friends, then I didn’t have time to clean my house. If I stay home and take care of things around the house, I wish I had made time for social interaction outside of work.
It’s tiresome feeling like things are never enough. I have found myself climbing into bed some nights and thinking, “I didn’t spend enough or any time with the Lord today.” And I beat myself up about it.
Maybe I’ve made my faith legalistic in some ways lately.
I have this devotional that I love called “Every Day in His Presence” by Charles Stanley. I’ve had it for years, and every single devotional always packs a punch in its short one page reading.
On Friday, I opened it up in a moment of frustration with myself for not feeling like I am getting much done and the title read “Stop Doing.” I laughed a little and kept reading.
The devotional posed a question, “Are you trying to earn God’s grace or convince Him to bless you with some heart’s desire? If you find yourself thinking, Father what do You want from me? I just don’t know what to do! Then you are most likely trying to deserve His good gifts rather than simply trusting Him to give them to you freely.”
As I sat there, I thought about church as a child. Somehow that made sense to me then. Sure, God could give gifts to me freely. Why wouldn’t He? Of course I didn’t have to earn or deserve them.
But now as an adult, I think I’ve lost along the way a little bit of that childlike faith. I have to earn a living to be able to pay rent, bills, groceries, all of that. It doesn’t come freely. If I want to go to the movies, it costs me. If I want to go out to eat with friends, it’s not free. Especially in this expensive city.
It doesn’t feel like anything comes without a cost, so I guess I have started to lump God into the same category as worldly things, but He doesn’t fit there.
I have to remind myself that each day was enough. Whatever I did was enough, even if I could have done more or talked to God more or whatever it is. God isn’t waiting and hoping that I have done enough to meet Him in heaven one day; thankfully that price has been paid. So now I have to do the hard and good thing of stepping back and letting God be God and accepting the grace God wants to drape me in.
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