Grace as a Bop on the Head in the Middle of the Night
I’m writing this in the middle of the night as God is convicting me of my lack of perseverance in many areas of my life, both spiritual and personal. It comes after a challenging evening in my marriage, nothing serious, just the fruit of a busy day and a lack of grace and patience for the person that you know will love you anyway, so you feel safe not to love each other well.
God woke me in the night to proverbially hit me in the back of the head.
Like you as a parent want to do to your 9-year-old son when he says or does something without thinking about how it will embarrass you. Like when your kid belches at the table in front of your boss or eats a jelly donut on Easter morning, right before pictures. The bop on the back of the head would be followed by, “What are you thinking?” or “Were you raised in the woods by wolves?” The real issue is what your kid’s actions reflect about your parenting. I think God must wonder about me sometimes too.
When God does this to me—and it happens more then I like to admit—it is a wake-up call. Literally and figuratively, I am not truly living in His image. He needs to remind me of who I am and who He is calling me to be. When it happens, I am embarrassed by whatever He is needing to show me. He never shames me, but He does prune and convict me, and tonight was no different. I had tears of repentance and even thankfulness for the pruning. The thankfulness has come with spiritual maturity since I know that growth comes from a good pruning and God loves me enough to discipline me.
Tonight, the issue was my lack of perseverance. In what area? Lots of areas. I’m not going to mention my failed New Year’s resolutions for my diet/exercise program, my plan to call my parents every week, or the great idea I had to send spiritual encouragements to my kids each day.
In convicting me in the area of spiritual perseverance, He sent me to Romans 5:3, Hebrews 12:1, and James 1:3-4. I was convicted that the testing of my faith that will produce perseverance must be grounded in obedience. God pressed on me last week as I prepared to teach a women’s class that, when Peter asked if he could step out of the boat, he asked because of his faith in Jesus. And when he actually walked on water, after Jesus said “Come,” he did it out of obedience. His faith called him to ask if he could do it, and then he obeyed out of that faith.
I’m told in Matthew 28 to go and make disciples.
I believe in that mission; in fact, discipleship is my vocation. But my faith and perseverance are tested in my obedience to what God is calling me to do on a daily basis.
Today my lack of faith, obedience, and perseverance has showed itself as fear. Anyone that knows me either in passing or close up would not say that I am a fearful person. But my fear shows up in overconfidence, pride, judgmentalism, and comparing myself to others. It can be subtle or overt and can happen in an instant. What God peeled apart tonight for me is that it really is a fear of failure, not being good enough, not loving others as well as I should, not following God’s will, a fear of not hearing His voice or having His approval. Fear is exactly where Satan wants me as I pursue a life of making disciples.
God needed to convict me that my fears were not from Him. He is a God of courage. When I am making disciples, my perseverance is tested. I don’t always know what to say or how to say it. I forget to respond or I overstate or understate what God asks me to say. Other areas of my life get neglected and then I overcompensate there. I run on empty at times and don’t allow the Holy Spirit to guide me, to fill me and to direct my every step. I want to give up or just tell people how to do it but not do it myself.
In my own power, I am inadequate in every way. Discipling others is messy, and it challenges me and breaks me at times. It reminds me that I must be completely dependent on God and not on myself. I’m prayerful that I obey out of my faith in God and that He will use me even when my strength lacks.
Thankfully He is a God of grace and His pruning is done out of love.
God’s voice is sometimes a whisper and other times it is a thump on the back of my head. Both are necessary for me to lean into His plan and into the lives of others. How do my actions reflect my Heavenly Father? God gave me the Holy Spirit to produce the fruit that I am serving Him in, and He tells me to teach people to trust and follow Him. To do that, I will silence the voice that is of this world that is so distracting, so I can clearly hear only His. For I can only listen to one command at a time.