|"Forgiveness is the horse that pulls the cart of good works." -Walter Marshall|
I had a stellar week. Can I tell you about it?
*I gave away a few books to friends.
*I encouraged my husband.
*I gave my kids grace and dazzled them with the love of Jesus.
*I led the women in our Gospel Community group.
*I invited a bunch of women and their children to my home and set up babysitting for them.
*I took a friend to a new church forty-five minutes from my house so that she didn't have to go alone.
*I cared for sick kids, carted them to the beach and boogie boarded with them. I took them to the pool, to their friends'. I even paid for my daughter to have parts of a chicken put in her hair.
*I took a friend's kids for a few hours so she could get some stuff done.
*I called to check in on a lonely friend.
*I gave counsel to a hurting and discouraged woman.
Pretty awesome huh? The picture of godliness right there!
And then Thursday came. Ahh Thursday. The day I realized how awesome I was. The day that I was certain I had earned my wings. It started with a beautiful email from a friend telling me what a great job I am doing in leading the women in our Gospel Community group. I believe the email was even titled "Awesome". I read that email quite a few times to reflect on my awesomeness. It was written in a spirit of love and encouragement but I ran with it and I ran hard. It speared me on to continue in my "good works." How can a person so awesome let anyone down by failing to be just that?
So by now you are probably really annoyed with the fact that I am telling you how great I am. What happened to the "boaster of weaknesses?" Have I lied to you all along only preparing you for the real unavailing of my awesomeness?
Here's the thing. It wasn't until I fell very hard and found myself in the middle of a big mess I had caused that I even counted what I had done this week. You see, the "Awesome" email was timely. Timely enough that in the midst of my big mess I would refer back to it to try to convince myself that I wasn't as bad as I thought I was when the truth is that I am actually worse (Romans 3:10).
And then as the messiness progressed I started to count my good deeds of the week. It was then that they became meaningless and self serving. It was then that they became about me. I had used them to try to earn favor, to earn forgiveness of the sin that I was overwhelmed by. The sin that was already paid for. What was originally effortless and loving had now become a crutch.
It was apparent to me that there was a major contrast in my week. I had started the week with my eyes on what Christ had done. A heart so full and so amazed that I would do anything. As Walter Marshall said, "Forgiveness is the horse that pulls the cart of good works." I had the horse before the cart, right where it should be, living in my forgiveness, but then things changed. I sinned badly and I no longer believed in my heart that I was loved much and forgiven much. I had put the cart before the horse and with all awkwardness proceeded to push into good works to sanctify myself, to make myself awesome so that I could prove that I was worthy to be His daughter.
It's all wrong you see; we don't have to prove anything. We don't have to earn anything. Everything that Christ gave up, every sin that was laid upon His back proved it all for us. Because He stepped in for us out of love to make us worthy we can stop trying to earn our way into forgiveness. We are loved, cherished, redeemed children of a great and loving God. We don't have to earn forgiveness, approval or good merit by working hard. If we will only go back to our cleansing, and live in our forgiveness then we can get the horse straightened out and on it's way.
Where's your horse of forgiveness this week? Is it laboring awkwardly to push the cart of good works out of a fearful heart who's only desire is to please so it won't be punished? Or is forgiveness first on your mind. Has Christ's amazing love for you grasped your heart and shaken you down until the good works have unabashedly poured out? My friends, Let's live in our forgiveness so that we may love in our forgiveness and remember that we have nothing to earn or gain because we have it all in Him.