I found myself not feeling the same effect of my relationship with God for a season of my life. I had experienced great change, experienced some intense relational and work stress and found myself making efforts to control my surroundings in order to manage my peace and somehow restore the inner stillness in my mind I had lost.
It didn’t work. Stress continued, unsettled sleep, and a general underlying presence of anxiety persisted. Even though I prayed, even though I worshiped, even though I studied the Word, even though I was hearing truth. I was attempting to self-medicate my spirit.
I was reading the writings of another saint and was reminded of how far my spirit was from the exchange she was sharing with God in her soul. I missed that. One morning I asked God how to return and I heard, “Preach forgiveness to yourself.” I love preaching even though I rarely get to do it, and over here in the Middle East I rarely here others do it either. He asked me, “When’s the last time you’ve heard forgiveness preached?” And he wasn’t referring to that I needed to forgive someone else. He meant between him and myself, and the always by-product of that is between me and myself.
I thought about it and it has maybe been over a year since I heard someone speak about what God did for me on the cross and what it accomplished on my behalf without any effort of my own required.
Now let me clarify something. I’m strongly a minded-person. And what I mean by that is normally in order for something to have an effect on my heart, I need to have a linear pattern of thought that makes sense to my mind in order for an impact to be felt emotionally within me. This, however, has also been a weakness in my experience as I will get so caught up in trains of thought that will have nothing to do with life or freedom. Whether they could be categorized as anger-based, or fear-based, or relationship-based, I tend to reason things out in my mind or have conversations in my mind. Again this–I have not observed usually ends up in anything life-giving.
So the question is where has my peace gone? And God’s answer was, why don’t you preach the gospel to yourself this morning. And so I did. I looked up the word forgiveness in the back of my bible, hunted out all the verses and at least one more that came to mind and wrote them down. Now realize, heaven is not a formula. Just because someone reads the verses below doesn’t mean, they will receive the peace I did through the process of looking them up, but I share them with you because of some of you who will believe them when you read them and it will settle things within your spirit and peace and calm will be experienced in an increased measure again. Here we go.
- There is forgiveness of sin for all who repent
- Through this man Jesus there is forgiveness of your sins and everyone who believes in him is declared right with God
- Even greater than sin and death is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this man Jesus Christ
- Forgetting the past, I look forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of this race through Christ
- He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his dear son who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins
- For God was pleased to live in Christ and reconcile everything to himself. He made peace with everything through Christ’s blood on the cross.
- You must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it
- Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard this good news
- Now he has reconciled you to himself through Jesus Christ
- He has brought you into his own presence and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault
My conclusion in all of this was that if Christ is at peace with me through Christ’s blood, I can be at peace with myself through Christ’s blood. I received a surge of confidence again in what Christ has accomplished and done entirely apart from my performance or abilities or competence, which freed me from any condition-ality in my relationship with God. There remains no room for my failure within his love and accomplished work on the cross.
It felt so nice to be in the presence of a savior again. Previous negative experiences I’ve had had brought in a level of distrust between myself and God. Why was that so hard, why did that have to be that why, why is this still that way, etc. I grew in mistrust of him because I lot perspective of his heart through my experiences. All I could see was the past and present of what went wrong or what I was doing wrong now and I could no longer see what he had done for me or who he really was with me now. I lost sight of his goodness in all the muck. Now don’t get me wrong, my mind didn’t lose the knowledge of his goodness, it was my heart that lost belief through my negative experiences.
And so through reading the writings I read, I had regained hope of being restored not factually but emotionally with God and my heart flittering again with confidence in his goodness and his love for me where I could feel it when my thoughts drifted within me. He has returned this precious gift to me. It was once something I could remember feeling, but now again my heart is alight with a tenderness within. It is a gift that I have not been able to conjure up within myself for sometime. And I am grateful. His forgiveness is like nothing else that still the mind and soul; that he has made all things well and that treats me with kindness and tenderheartedness.
I will write another piece about returning a stillness to my mind soon.