This week, Cody pointed out that he has been observing a lot of self-condemnation in the way I talk about my day, and I was challenged to dig into these statements and decide how much was truth.
From how the baby napped to forgetting the espresso maker was running because I got interrupted; from my reaction to the dirty dishes to my inner wrestlings over cooking dinner again, I tend to observe how I walk through each experience and label it as another failure.
I’m always trying to improve, so I didn’t see a real problem with focusing on what could go better, but I’m learning that when that evaluation leaves me defeated, I may be listening to the wrong voice.
“For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to Earth – the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the lamb and by their testimony.”
I have an enemy that drags up the past, day and night, in hopes of discouraging and defeating me; but the blood of Jesus Christ has paid for it all. There is zero outstanding debt. The accuser is the one who is defeated, not me.
The word “testimony” in this verse comes from the greek word martyrias which also means “evidence” or “record.”
The enemy is defeated by the very record he tries to throw in my face.
Because of the cross, the enemy accuses, but the record is clean.
Regardless of how I feel about myself, the record is clean, and God is not asking me to dwell on how I should have done better. I will never on this earth perform perfectly. Can I be content with God’s ability to forgive, forget, and use me in spite of my failures? Can I believe him when he says I am free to move on?
In a thousand situations, I would like to take my hindsight and have a re-do. In many others, I don’t like how it went, but I don’t actually know what I should have done or said instead. I have not walked perfectly, and I will not walk perfectly, but the record is clean.
God’s desire for me is to walk in freedom, confident of what he is able to do rather than carrying stress over whether I will ever get it right. He is NOT the one asking that question.
“So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong…Look after each other so that no one fails to receive the grace of God…Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking.”
When I become aware of my falling and my weakness, may I learn to listen to the Lord when he speaks.
Because he does not speak of grace and hope and strength and then say, “but these do not apply to you; these are for people facing harder things, these are for people who haven’t screwed up.”
His grace is for every weakness. His hope is for every struggle. His strength is for every hardship.
He does not make me aware of my issues to make me feel disqualified but so that he may infuse my hollowness with his fullness and brace the joints that would give out and encourage my heavy heart and my tired hands to take a new grip. His instructions mark out the path ahead, not to intimidate me, but to help me press on with sure footing.
His desire is not that I would never, ever fail; but that I would never, ever fail to receive his grace. Grace he is always holding out, like a steady hand when I’m walking with a limp, like a fresh, solid grip when my hands are tired.
Grace that says:
“The enemy accuses, but the record is clean.
Don’t listen to him. Don’t even listen to yourself. Listen to me.”