Face-plant Into the Arms of Jesus
This is a continuation of my previous post.
After years of self-induced, spiritual stress, I finally realized God wasn’t the shin-kicking, cosmic scorekeeper I had imagined.
For the first time since I was a kid, I knew my salvation was secure, and obedience seemed like an opportunity, rather than an obligation. I was a changed man, a Jesusy flower child, feeling saved all over again.
Most importantly, now that I was experiencing an abundant life in Christ, I figured I wouldn’t even want to sin anymore. Of course, I knew that I might periodically fall into sin, but I thought it would only be a minor distraction most of the time. I was finally learning to walk on my own, and the days of embarrassing, spiritual face-plants were over.
Having a more firm grasp of God’s love helped me in a number of ways, no doubt. But, contrary to my idealism, it sure didn’t put my sinful nature in a coma. Nope, I soon discovered that I still cut people off in traffic, I diplomatically gossiped about those I didn’t like, and lustful thoughts still clung to my brain like a sweaty fungus. Whether I liked it or not, I was still a hot mess up under the surface.
What a disappointment. I had hoped that, with my new revelation of God’s love, I would finally get my faith settled, grow out of my spiritual diapers, and learn how to stand on my own. But the further I got in my walk with Christ, the more I discovered almost all my weaknesses were still firmly in place.
I should have seen it coming, I suppose. So many times before, God had touched my life through intercessory prayer, church retreats, scripture passages, or meaningful conversations. I had walked away from these spiritual encounters determined to live differently, feeling that truly, truly this time was different – but somehow I always ended up bungling up my spiritual life all over again.
And here I was again, on the heels of another breakthrough, supposed to be a changed man. Except I wasn’t.
I was like Peter, who boldly preached to the Gentiles, but later acted like He didn’t know them when he got around the in-crowd at the church potluck (Acts 2:14-21, Gal. 2:11-14). I was like John Mark, who was inspired to go on the mission field, but then ditched his team halfway through the trip (Acts 15:36-40). And I was like the disciples, who showed up for Jesus’ inauguration parade, but fled the scene when His poll numbers went down (John 12:12-16, Mark 14:50-52).
I was a klutz, but I was a reluctant klutz who had forgotten that need is what defines our relationship with Christ. Trying to show God I had figured out how to live the Christian life was essentially asking Him to keep His distance. Sure, I wanted Him to stay close enough to catch me if I fell, but I wanted Him far enough away that I could get some credit for doing things on my own.
It’s an ongoing lesson, truly believing that “His power is made perfect in my weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). But it’s a lesson I keep accidentally learning as I perpetually rediscover how spiritually needy I am. And no, I’m not looking for excuses to live in sin and write it off as spiritual klutziness. But I am looking for every opportunity to rest in the arms of Christ, letting Him work through me as I fall forward in this walk of faith.
It’s a messy process, but if my life is any indicator, He’s willing to work with what He’s got.