Yet I love thee, and adore; O for grace to love thee more!
(lines from the hymn ‘Hark my soul, it is the Lord’, by William Cowper, 1731-1800)
Don’t get the wrong impression. Don’t think that because I choose to write about faith, that I am in any way different from every other christian. If we are honest with ourselves, there are times when believing, delighting in and obeying our Saviour is as easy and natural as breathing. But there are also many times when the urgency of normal, routine life crowds out the sweet call of Jesus to be keeping him company.
The clamour of the demands made on us by other people – usually quite legitimate demands – deafen us to the echoes of private worship, and we find it so hard to listen for God’s voice in the midst of our responsibilities. I cannot control many of the events which affect my daily life, and which so often kill off my good intentions by starving them of time and energy. Schemes and ideas which might have brought blessing to others – as well as to myself – are simply washed away by my circumstances. All that remains is a plaintive lament for a lost opportunity or thwarted plan.
The temptation is condemn ourselves for our ‘failure’, to cast ourselves down in regret and refuse to be comforted….As if our good works – no matter how well-intentioned – were the only thing about us which God valued!
This is a lie, and a dreadful trap for conscientious folk. It is a rope of false pride which binds and imprisons us in the comfortless dark.
Yes, I may have failed to complete some good work which I had planned. But God loved and chose to save me before I had done anything in his service! My place in his presence depends always and only on the complete salvation achieved by Jesus. It is his works, not mine, which are the key. And on the cross, he cried ‘It is finished’ – all has been done, nothing remains for me to fill up.
When the messiness of daily life engulfs me, and I wonder where God was in my day, I choose to remember this.. that I am not loved because I have achieved anything, but because I am loved. God’s grace means that he sees my heart, sees my desire to serve and love him – no matter how feebly I sometimes express it, or how much I mess up – and is delighted.
Let my pride in my own achievements be crucified, and my God’s amazing grace to me be exalted. Here is my comfort on the down days.. it is all grace, freely given, without limit or ration. All glory to our astounding God and, as we contemplate his grace, may our love grow ever deeper.