I began this year by beginning to read John Piper’s Future Grace, and as the year comes to a close I am finishing the second half of the book. Just like anything I’ve read in the past year, the Lord has exceedingly and abundantly met me in my pursuit of Him.
I was recently encouraged by a dear friend to meditate on Isaiah 64:4 in awaiting the Lord’s revelation & unfolding of answers within a particular relationship:
“From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.”
– Isaiah 64:4
Well in the second half of Future Grace which I picked up amidst weakness in the same battle- I found myself in Chapter 13: Applying the Purifying Power Faith in Future Grace Vs. Impatience ! And I was immediately convicted upon reading the first two sentences :
“Impatience is a form of unbelief. It’s what we begin to feel when we doubt the wisdom of God’s timing or the goodness of God’s guidance.”
Further into the chapter I was encouraged to see Isaiah 64:4 listed along with 2 Chronicles 16:9; Psalm 23:6,84:11; Jeremiah 32:40-41; Romans 8:28,32; and 1 Corinthians 3:22-23 – all examples of God promising again and again to work for the good of his people if they put their faith in his power and wisdom !
Now I don’t know what it is about graduating from college (almost a year ago now!) , but in the past few months, more than ever, I have found myself desperate to be focused on cultivating genuine love for Christ – a love that ebbs and flows out to all those around me; and a strong grasp of my identity in Christ.
I’ve long realized my short comings in this area but felt hopeless to get out of this particular rut. I knew that I was especially failing to trust/rest in the “assurance that my sins, however great, have been forgiven through [Christ’s] death on the cross”. This coupled with “an ever-growing consciousness for my own sinfulness and unworthiness,” is the recipe for doing just that – creating a new attitude of gratitude for grace. Oh & then there’s been the prayer for pruning because I’ve been made of aware of the mast weeds of self -righteousness, persistent guilt, and self-reliance (Oh! The latter two I struggle with still) which threaten to choke true appreciation for the gospel.
Over the past few months I’ve spent a lot of time in prayer for the Lord to give me Joy in who He is & what He’s done! As a result I look forward looking out and up and not inward more (may He increase & I decrease). It’s been a year of surrender. I have given Him my past, my guilt, and my shame & I have been falling in love with Him for all of who He is and all of what He has done for me. There are things I did and thoughts that crossed my mind a year ago, that I am grateful to say – He has removed- as I once thought of them as a part of my identity, but even those thoughts and actions are covered by the blood of Christ; and this empowers me to live for Him each day! Now don’t get me wrong- this ( my changed mindset – devoid of misplaced shame) is not a “one and done” kind of thing. I have to constantly renew my mind & ask for God’s help to rest assured that I have been justified and that He is still at work in my heart.
So overall there are a few things I have been doing to choke out the enemies of the gospel in my life:
1.) Pray for help. I love asking God for help with things that He promises to do for us; and then waiting and watching as He molds that area of my life into what He wants it to be (this is not always a walk in the park, but it’s a cause for celebration & joy nonetheless). I asked for help with my persistent guilt and the self-reliance that resulted from this and misplaced shame. Is it all gone? No. However, it is no longer the central motivation of my life, and it does not define who I am. Ask God to send his Spirit to help you focus on living for Him.
2.) Read. I have literally felt the contrast in the past few months of times characterized by more time with the Lord in His Wors in comparison to times where this was lacking. I love reading books about his Word and what he has to say about specific areas. I’m constantly encountering Him in His word as if I’m sitting down to catch up with a dear friend ! He will reach off of the pages & read your heart- there’s such comfort to be found in this – He’s a personal God!
3.) Constantly pursue wisdom in the person of Christ.
4.) Surround yourself with people who do the same. I cannot express this enough. In college I learned some hard (but needed) lessons about the importance of not being unequally yoked (I believe this goes for friendships as well). Some of my greatest moments of joy & holiness have been spurred on by the spiritual fellowship I’ve been blessed to partake in with my dear brothers & sisters in Christ!
5.) Reflect & Rejoice! Oh so important – when we reflect on what Christ has done for us ( His death on the cross for our sins) we should be filled with joy & gratitude!
Overall I have been praying to grow in faith in God’s promises by studying His Word & looking to the future with faith in His grace , freely given through Christ! He’s answering these prayers & for this I am grateful!
“Infinite wisdom has arranged the whole with infinite love; and infinite power enables me- to rest upon that love. I am in a dear Father’s hands – all is secure. When I look to him, I see nothing but faithfulness – and immutability- and truth; and I have the sweetest peace- I cannot have more peace”
– Charles Simeon