Friday, October 14, 2016

Freedom from Striving


The leaves are changing as the air becomes cooler.  The brilliant hues of gold, orange and red light up our back field and I thank the Lord for bringing us to this place here in the country.  Here I have poured out my heart and soul, I have wept in the fields and looked up to the heavens frantically searching for the one who knows me... and He has answered.  He has been here all along but I haven't truly felt a deep, lasting connection until we came to this place, this haven for my heart.  I have felt connected off and on over the years but never something so intimate as what He has brought me to these past three years.


He has made all things new.  He moved us away from the old ways - our home in the city, our belonging to a large church, and the community we had being in the midst of town, and took us here.  Just a few miles from where we were and yet so much changed.

He gave us this home which has brought a level of peace that is indescribable... safe places for my children to play and my heart to rest easy, beautiful land to remind me of His providence.  He brought us to a place of Home Fellowship that I cannot even begin to explain how that has wrecked me... in a good way.  Everything I have known about my walk with the Lord has been tipped on it's head and I feel like I am a new creation.

I have been saved since I was seven, I have always loved the Lord but I haven't felt this close to him ever.  For years and years my walk has been work based.  I have been living a life in hopes to please God (and please others).  All the while striving, doing, trying to be all God (and others) wants me to be.  If I continue to work on myself then I will get closer to God.  It is kind of like a formula.  With the Lord I figured well, the more I can do, the more I can serve, the closer I will get to Him.  It is the same with my relationships with others.  The more I do, the more I serve, the more I pour out, the more they will love me and accept me.  Right?  Doesn't that make sense?

I like rules, lists to follow... it helps me know where I rate.  If I obey the rules and check off the lists then I am successful, if not , I have failed and failure is not an option.  It's only recently I have learned how damaging that thinking is.  The fact is that, I am not perfect and I will fail, however, God does not turn His back from me when I fail.  God never turns away.   Instead, he extends a scarred hand and helps me up.  He listens to my heart as I apologize and then He shows me a better way, a way where I can succeed, reminding me that when I stumble, He is there to pick me up.  He does not remove His love from me when I fail, I think that is monumental.  He tells me that we are in this together, He and I, seeing my sin for what it is and working together on it... it's not all about me, working alone, trying to get it right.  When I try to do it on my own, I fail.  I think it is a common trapping for humanity, to feel good enough, to think we have to obtain a form of perfection in order to earn love from one another and from God and to think we have to go it alone.  It is a brilliant lie from the devil that keeps us distracted from the truth.

There is nothing we can do to make Him love us more.  There is nothing we can do to make us more righteous in His sight.  We are all sinners, saved by Grace.  His grace is a gift to us.  It was not given out of obligation, or as a reward for something that we have done or will do.  It is a gift of perfect love.  it is a gift, given to everyone, but we have to make the choice to receive that gift.

Trying to be perfect is exhausting not to mention impossible but it was my goal for so long because if I was perfect, or so I thought, then I was loved, then there was peace....  However, I found out that it did not matter how good I was, pain still happened, and being good enough could not fix it.  I tried being the perfect Christian,  the perfect daughter, the perfect friend... I did not want to lose love. I burnt out.

I have learned that I can never please enough and it all ends up being about my striving, my effort, my ability to make something happen.
I haven't trusted who God says I am.  He tells me that:

I am enough!  

He tells me that I am worthy, I am godly, I am a saint, I am righteous and NOTHING I can do can ever make me MORE godly or MORE righteous... its all about what HE did for me not what I can do for Him.  Crazy!  I am sure you guys already have been kicked in the head by that truth but call me slow because I am just jumping onto this freedom train now.

So as I step out into this new found freedom, this crazy love, I am overwhelmed by His grace.  My value is in living out of who God says I am.  He paid an infinite price to redeem me and give me a new identity and the way I can show Him I value this identity is to trust what He says about me is true.

Butterfly by TanoyPhoto, on Flickr
I have always seen myself as the caterpillar but never the butterfly.  The caterpillar's makeup, it's DNA,  is a butterfly.  It looks nothing like a butterfly on the outside,  but inside it is wired completely like a butterfly.  (stay with me)  The caterpillar matures into what is already true about it!  Scolding a caterpillar for not being more like a butterfly is pointless.  He already is a butterfly, he just hasn't matured completely.  He is on a journey.  So it is with us... with me.  God has given us the DNA of godliness, we are saints, we are righteous.  Nothing we do will make us more righteous than we already are.  We may be the caterpillar right now as we journey towards becoming more and more like Christ but eventually, we will come out on the other side of the process as a butterfly.   Is that crazy cool or what?  My mind is blown by this realization.

I have thought I could achieve godliness by striving  and gain love and acceptance by serving.  All I need to do is work a little harder... me... my effort, my work, my doing.  Trusting in my own self instead of God.

Then the light bulb went on: My relationship with Him is not about how little I have sinned or how much I have served but how much I let Him love me.

It is not about my self effort... it is about allowing God to live His life THROUGH me.  We work together.  Him in me.

I was not operating out of the truth that I am already godly...  I was striving to BE godly.  But God has brought me to the wilderness to mature me and to show me I am already godly. I am already the butterfly.  Now I need to live like that. My works based relationship with God put the responsibility on my own resources but when I live out of a grace based relationship then the responsibility is on the resources of God.  And his resources are limitless!

I always thought that God was interested in changing me but He already HAS.  He wants me to believe that I AM changed so he can get on with the process of maturing me into WHO I ALREADY AM.  If I am not trusting Him then I will still be trying to change myself on my own, in hopes of becoming godly, rather than accepting His gift, His truth, that says I am already godly because He is dwelling in me.  His spirit is at work in me making me a new creation as I mature into the image of Christ.  Are you following me?  I know this is crazy and deep (maybe it is not as revolutionary for you because you haven't been chained down by a works based theology but whoa... I'm still reeling).  

I know this was a mouthful but I wanted to share with you what the Lord is doing in my life and the incredible freedom I am experiencing as I bask in His love for me and press on towards His glory. 

I love you all!

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we boast in the hope of the glory of God." Romans 5:1-2

FREEDOM! (in my best Braveheart voice).

 - Dawna - 

(To be inspired more check out the book True Faced by Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol and John Lynch.  Many of the above concepts came from this book and have rocked my world.)

2 comments:

  1. Dawna, I tried commenting on this the day you published it, but didn't have the right credentials on my tablet. I was just so encouraged by this entry, as I am by every one you post, but this one resonated with me. I have been going through a similar thought process due in part to a couple of studies we've done in small group. Isn't it sad how we keep going back to a mindset that there are things we have to do better, be better at, make more important....when God has done His work, we just have to move into it. Granted, there are times when things we have picked up along the journey need to be tossed in order to better please our Lord, or we need to pick up something we have accidentally put by the side....but God in His mercy and love has given us the Spirit to do JUST that, discern when something is not right. It's a wonderful thing if you can pass to your children the fact that faith is not works-based, but rather based on the Father's immense worth and His love for us. I have a bit of regret that I may not have passed that on to my own children as it was something I did not understand at the time.

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    1. Dear Connie,
      Thank you for your well said words and even though you may not have taught it to your children when they were young, you are teaching them now. We cannot teach what we do not yet know. As you learn about His abiding grace your children will see His freedom of grace in your life, as you live it out before them and it will not just impact your children, but your grandchildren also and generations to come. May the Lord bless you today!

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