My devotional life this year has been a blend of things. Since wrapping up the Bible in One Year saga, I’ve spent time in a devotional book by Paul David Tripp titled, “New Morning Mercies” (BTW, great book, highly recommend) and some heavy duty time in the Psalms. My NMM book today focused on things we celebrate daily. It asked this question specifically,
“What do you celebrate daily in your life?”
The intent was to find out how our hearts work. The devotion was a bit more nuanced, but in a nutshell it asked; are our hearts aligned with God’s purposes for the Kingdom? Or do we spend most of our time lamenting our circumstances?
It was a good question and I pondered my daily celebrations. Finding parking was high on the list, along with keeping the dog from barking at blowing leaves. But I was encouraged when I had a text from a mom whose daughter spends time with me. She thanked me for being in her daughter’s life…I cried. Kingdom moments are so worthy of celebration and I know I don’t do it often enough.
The recommended verses that accompanied the devotional were from Colossians chapter 1:2-14, specifically 12-14 spoke to me,
12-14: “Your hearts can soar with joyful gratitude when you think of how God made you worthy to receive the glorious inheritance freely given to us by living in the light. He has rescued us completely from the tyrannical rule of darkness and has translated us into the kingdom realm of his beloved Son. For in the Son all our sins are cancelled and we have the release of redemption through his very blood.” TPT
Thinking about this led me to ponder a different question,
What would my life be like if God hadn’t pursued and rescued me?
I was 10 when God reached out to me. I was scared – a lot. I led a very uncomplicated childhood during the day, but nighttime haunted me. One night when I couldn’t sleep for the zillionth time, I made a deal with God that I would go forward in church if he would let me sleep without pestering my parents. That was it’s own kind of scary, mostly dad being annoyed. So I did, HE did and all my problems were solved.
Thinking backward, I realized that being raised on television shows like The Brady Bunch conditioned me to expect a life with simple problems, easy fixes and abundant happiness. I had a mindset that if I did A,B,C, life would automatically give me D,E,F. Being good meant I’d have a good life. My mom even had a phrase she used to describe the ultimate, happy life,
A house with a white picket fence
A white picket fence symbolized the perfectly happy home to her. Flowers bloomed, children played, the dog and cat were besties, and mom was hanging laundry in the sunshine, all while waiting for handsome dad to come home, kiss mom and complete the picture.
It’s a miracle I am surviving real life
What wasn’t factored into this vision was the reality that homes were not perfect, even Christian homes. Families were/are complicated and full of dysfunction. I grew up having little to no coping skills when happiness wasn’t automatic, simply for ‘being good’. I think my parents’ (and many of that generation), assumed that we would have a better life than they did, knowing they had improved on what they grew up with.
I only wish it were so
I can look backward today and know that if God hadn’t pulled me out of my fear pit, I’d still be there. Layers and layers of fear would be running my life. In fact, I’d probably be so familiar with fear that I wouldn’t even know it was controlling me. It’s anyone’s guess as to how all of that would have affected me. I thank God that it doesn’t. I lived with fear even after God rescued me. It’s taken years for him to set me free from many of them.
Something to celebrate!
I also lived for approval. Parents for sure, but pretty much anyone in my known world. It was critically important to me, even after God rescued me, that people like and approve of me. Once again, it took years for God to show me that HIS approval was what I needed to live for. If he hadn’t tenderly reached into my life and set me on a different path, I’d still be a slave to that need.
“rescued us completely from the tyrannical rule of darkness…”
It’s a mind bending thought for me. Tyranny is a powerfully descriptive word. When I think of tyranny I think of dictators like Hitler and Stalin, or the White Witch in Narnia. It’s the kind of fear that says “if you don’t do this you will die” and death scared me. Every bad behavior, even minor ones, carried Dire Consequences, which might as well be death, in my mind. And I looked to others to supply me with affirmation that I wasn’t committing any wrongs that would bring about Dire Consequences. It was a vicious, hamster wheel existence.
“…and has translated us into the Kingdom of his son”
What a thought! To live daily in the Kingdom of Jesus. To have the hope of eternity with him. To have access to resurrection power not only for the future but for today. To be able to bend God’s ear with any thought or request. To have any access to God is worthy of celebration! And to be forgiven, restored, made whole, freed from fear and looking only to Jesus for approval.
Words cannot describe
Sometimes I forget that God rescued me. Christianity has been a way of life for so long that I barely remember life without it. Its healthy to remind myself what brought me to Jesus. Asking myself the question “what if?” was incredibly humbling. It also put any hardships I’ve faced over the years into perspective;
They could have been so much worse
I can’t imagine facing the difficulties in life that I have without Jesus walking before me. To face some of the things I’ve faced, on my own is a thought I don’t even want to entertain. As Vizzini said in The Princess Bride,
And the challenges I’ve lived through are minor in comparison with the suffering Jesus endured for me.
“For in the son all our sins are cancelled and we have the release of redemption through his very blood”
There isn’t even a hesitation about crediting Jesus with my life rescue. If it wasn’t for his grace reaching out to me, I don’t know where I’d be today.
Rescue beats tyranny every time…
May I always celebrate the rescuing act of God in my life!