January 27, 2009

Pressure's Off

I've been under alot of stress lately. Boy, that is an understatement. And I have been fighting discouragement, so my thoughts are running in a million different directions while I try to process things.

Due to this, living and dying has been a theme on my heart lately. You know, it’s the same old thing- dying to self and living for Jesus. Trusting Him or turning away. I’m not talking about the Big Denial, the going to heaven or hell type stuff. I’m talking about the little opportunities for denial. The daily chances to obey. You’d think that after so many years of trying to follow Him, I would have this down a little better. I want to be good. Really, I do. Don’t you? The truth is that it is a continual struggle to choose obedience, especially when no one is else would even know.

Now, I’m not talking about choosing blatant sin, here- although sometimes that may be the case. What I’m talking about is letting the selfish, Mark-focused side of me die by choosing to obey what Jesus is speaking to me at the moment. Like when He urges me to talk to my wife instead of reading the paper. Really talking to her like I would with a friend over lunch. Putting the paper down and paying genuine, undivided attention to her and her words. When everything inside of me is screaming, “This is my time. I’ll do it later- leave me alone.” That’s when the choosing is hard. Will I deny Him then?

Thankfully, the same scripture that brings a painful reminder of my human state also brings me hope:

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Galatians 2:20-21

The grace of God. Yeah, that’s it. I need to choose to obey- no question there- but God has given me His grace to be strong when I need it. I can’t earn a good relationship with Jesus anymore than I can earn my way to heaven. In my little decisions, if I don’t choose Him and obedience, Jesus will forgive me if I go back to Him with an honest heart of confession and repentance. The pressure’s off- Jesus gave himself in death for me, in my place. I don’t take that lightly. Neither should you. But don’t set aside His grace.

The sacrifice of Jesus and His grace for us is part of the “abundant life” He promised us. Let me challenge you this week: When you hear His voice, do what He asks. If you fail- even if you deliberately choose to sin by disobedience or by falling into old habits- run to Him and start clean again. I'm talking to myself here as well! The pressure’s off. Embrace His grace. He paid the price.


Anonymous said...

Mark, you are such a blessing. I love reading your blogs, and you have uplifted me today. Thank you! I came to your blog to read about your trip, and scrolled down to read a little more. Thank you for being "human" and a child of God. A fellow MI'er. Polly (Mickey4ever)

Mark Taft said...

Thank you, Polly!
We really are all in this together...