Off The Deep End

I’m a great starter.  Heck of a starter.  I can start with the best of them.  In fact, very few people can out-start me.  I could win starting trophies, if there were such a thing.  Maybe even set some starting records.

But somewhere along the way, I get distracted.  Or discontent.  Or dissatisfied, disheartened, disillusioned…something.

I am not proud to say that this has been somewhat of a pattern in my Christian walk.  For example, God laid it on my heart several years ago to read the Bible all the way through.  I have since read Genesis no less than 26 times.  Because the only thing I do better than start is start OVER.  And the more times I start over, the more I begin to subconsciously believe that I won’t finish.

For me, the message this past Sunday could not have been more God-sent or more timely.  You see, I have realized recently that one of the primary reasons that I am such a poor finisher is because I have, somewhere deep down inside of me and generally just outside of my conscious awareness, an overwhelming fear of failure.  And as I listened to the Sunday message and heard Mark repeat the words “It is finished,” I realized, for the first time, the magnitude of these words and the Power behind them.  And I was struck with the realization that Jesus finished the work on the cross.  I have work to do, but Jesus finished THE work.  The work that makes me right with God.  The work that makes me unconditionally accepted, unconditionally loved, and eternally secure.  And I found myself wondering, “How would my life look differently if I REALLY GOT THIS?”  If deep down inside, where my fear of failure lives, I truly understood the reality that where I stand with God is not related to my performance or to my ability to please others, but is already decided by Jesus’s finished work on the cross.  And I realized that when I truly GET this, truly understand it with my heart instead of just with my head, then I will be free to fail.  I will be free to take the second step, and the third, and the fourth, rather than just the first, without fear of failure or rejection, because I will be secure in the knowledge that falling down does not alter my status as a child of God one single bit.  That I could fail at everything I ever try from this point forward and my worth would not diminish.  There is great freedom in this realization.  And if I am free to fail, then I am also free to succeed.  Not to succeed by the world’s standards, but to succeed by finishing well.  And I CAN finish well because, and only because, Jesus did.  I cannot finish well in my own strength.  But I can in His.  Because His grace is sufficient.  And what does He ask of me?  Only that I take one step, and then another, closer to Him and deeper into His will for me.

(Written for my church’s blog, Live Oak Roots, on 4/21/11.)



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