Even as I write the title to this post, I cringe at the cliché those words can bring. We need to have confidence in Christ can sound so spiritual and heady that even as the words drift off the page they easily get tangled up into our misconceptions and misunderstandings:
“Yes, I need to have more confidence in Christ. I will work on that and put it at the top of my to-do list. As the day goes by, I will try to remind myself that I need to have more confidence in Christ.”
While words are powerful, it is easy to mix them up with misunderstanding and rip the mystery and depth right out of them.
In the past 5 years, I have fallen in love with liturgy and the church calendar. These were tools that facilitated the renewal of my tired heart. Liturgy has challenged me, it has centered me, it has calmed me and it has given me confidence in Christ.
I have written before about why I love Daily Prayer, so I won’t go into all the reasons again, other than to say I still find myself in love with it. It weaves all of Scripture together for me on a daily basis, the Psalms, Old Testament, New Testament and the Gospel. I’m reminded daily that I am part of a story that is bigger than I am and that this great Creator has been intimately involved in human history for thousands of years and He will still be there when I am long gone.
We live in a world of heartbreaking news. There is no way to wrap our minds and reality around the tragic events that plague our world. I read in the news about 200 Nigerian girls who have been raped and tortured for months and then I look across the room at my daughter, the same age no doubt as some of these children, who is carefree and loved. And my heart cries out, “Why not the same for them? Why did their childhood have to be torn away?” And I pray for their precious babies, conceived in horror, will they find a life where they are loved, embraced and cherished?
As these words wrap around me, I begin reading Paul. I’ve come to realize that there are some in the Church who view Paul as harsh and demanding. They can never quite measure up to “his expectations.” But I think that for many who feel that way it happens because they have separated these holy words from the story of life. Somewhere along the way we’ve lost the mystery, the awe and the beauty of Scripture because we have turned it into merely a rule book that reminds us of how far short we still are from God’s beauty and holiness. Instead of an invitation to learn about God’s love.
I have found no other way to experience life in my own life apart from Christ.
But I love Paul and he no longer strikes me in this way. He is passionate and he struggles with putting words around the beauty and mystery of the cross. He has seen human history, he has studied religious history, and he understands firsthand how cruel humanity can be. Yet he has fallen in love with a Saviour whom he is willing to die for. When he sees humanity putting confidence in themselves and selling short the beauty and mystery of the cross, yes, he does get upset and expresses it. But I don’t see it as an angry, why don’t you get your act together? Rather I see it as a cry “What can I do to make you see with my eyes? What must I do to make you understand?”
Ephesians 2: 1- 9
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
So what does confidence in Christ mean to me? It is something that is always changing, growing and challenging me. But it means learning to rest in the beauty of who He is and learning to walk in His love.
Love not guilt,
grace not shame,
mercy not me trying harder.
Loving the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and my neighbor as myself.
Starting here, always, every day, every hour, every minute.
He loves us (period).
He loves us – believe it.
He loves us – accept it.
He loves you, yes you.
Let’s start there. Let’s live it out as reality in our lives so we have something to offer this brokenhearted world, to bring life, hope and healing to their hearts. Sometimes I think we are so busy fighting our own hearts, our own weaknesses that we find ourselves with nothing left to offer. But perhaps if our confidence was in Christ alone we could walk forward offering the Bread of Life, the water that is free and available to all who are weary & thirsty.
Drink deep His love. It is healing, it is real, it is life-giving and it is the hope our real world needs.
“God loved us before he made us; and his love has never diminished and never shall.”
― Julian of Norwich
So I end this post with a song, “Looking for You” by the Lone Bellow. I have fallen in love with this haunting song and I’ve wanted to share it with you all. I don’t know the intention behind this song, but for me I see it as a call from Christ’s love to our hearts. Sometimes we are captured more easily by music then words alone. If you are feeling lost and broken, maybe this song will minister to your heart and encourage you to put your trust in Christ’s love.