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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.

If only.

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.

8 Comments
  1. A sweaty fungus? 🙂

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    October 19, 2010
  2. Thanks, Josh.

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    October 19, 2010
  3. Jesus saves! What more can we ask for? Be a Son lover.

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    October 21, 2010
  4. Made me meditate on Jesus' response to Peter after his betrayal: "Do you love me?" There's so much to that question. Jesus is first interested in our love for him. We are first and foremost responsible for our adoration, love, and relationship with Christ. His power can be manifested through us when he has our heart (John 5:19**). If our focus becomes that of performance, we lose sight; everyday Christ had to look to his Father to know what to do. The Christian life is impossible without such persistent refocusing.

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    October 22, 2010
  5. Jim #

    Hunter that is powerful!!! Jesus' first concern was Peter's love for Him not Jesus stating, "I love you Peter–no sweat on the betrayal thing." "Do you love me? Feed my sheep!" Faith without repentance is empty. Joshua, you are a good writer. Great blog, keep it up!! Studying Peter is such a worthwhile thing. What a crazy guy! LOL on the "potluck."

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    October 23, 2010
  6. Hey Hunter and Jim, thanks for your comments. It's always good to see meaty discussion on here. I do think that both of your ideas have to balanced with the truth from 1 John 4:18-19, that we know by heart – to the point that we almost forget it:"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us."Thanks again.

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    October 23, 2010
  7. Coming off the high of a recent conference (Pursuit), and having been showered with God’s truth about His one-way love there, I’ve been a bit discouraged lately about how little lasting “progress” I’ve been making. Your post was a good reminder to just turn back to *His* finished work and *His* love and strength. I am spiritually needy, and that is right where God meets me – I can( and must) stay there. Thank you for the reminder.

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    August 24, 2014
    • I’m so glad you were encouraged by the post.

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      August 24, 2014

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