Seeing Change in Light of the Gospel
No matter who we are, life always has its ups and downs. But how do we look at those in a Gospel-centered light? This is something I've been battling with personally and was determined to figure out. I have learned that yes, we can indeed live in light of the Gospel even when everything around us is fluid.
I am a very passionate person. I love deeply and strongly and tend to take joy in every little aspect of life. Sometimes I get made fun of and put down for being too excited about simple little things. My husband is the same way, so we have a very fun house!:D This passion for life can be great, but it can also be really frustrating. Because of how I am, I am extremely sensitive, sentimental, and care about things way too much sometimes. I have been dreading this month because we are getting ready to move for good to another state. It’s a month full of goodbyes. Goodbye to friends. Goodbye to our house that we have raised our kids in for a couple of years. Goodbye to the places we’ve grown to love over the last five years. Goodbye to the hospital we had our children in. Goodbye to a bunch of our furniture and stuff we have had for years (seriously, most of it isn't worth keeping anyways...so why is it so hard?!?:P) Goodbye to all the places we have visited the last few years and made so many memories. Goodbye to a place we have learned and grown so much as people. Goodbye to our routine of places we shop and go. The list could go on. Everything is so hard to let go of.
I was feeling kind of down and just wishing that I could not care about these things. That I could let things go easier. Maybe it's stupid to be passionate about life and I'll always just end up getting hurt? But this morning I read this section below in a book and it encouraged and strengthened me in the race of life. If you're not in a regular practice of reading or listening to truth daily, consider doing that asap! It is life changing to be reminded of truth daily. When my thinking is way off base and I'm driven only by my feelings, the reminder of God's truth and the Gospel help me get my focus back where it should be. To be totally open, if you are familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality test, I am somewhere right between an ISFJ and ESFJ (I change between and introvert and extrovert depending on who I'm with lol and I do get my energy from being with people and hate being alone, so who knows:P). The "F" is for feeling which means I tend to being feeling driven instead of logic driven. Let's just say I am almost 100% on the feeling side of the chart in my natural state, so I need a whole lot of reining in and a whole lot of refocusing on a daily basis! Anyways, here is the thing I read that was so encouraging and helpful to my heart today.
“The more absorbed I am in the gospel, the more grateful I become in the midst of my circumstances, whatever they may be.
Viewing life's blessings as water in a drinking cup, I know that I discontentedly focus on the half of the cup that seems empty, or I could gratefully focus on the half that is full. Certainly, the latter approach is the better of the two, yet the gospel cultivates within me a richer gratitude than this.
The gospel reminds me first that what I actually deserve from God is a full cup churning with the torments of His wrath. This is the cup that would be mine to drink if I were given what I deserve each day. With this understanding in mind, I see that to be handed a completely empty cup from God would be cause enough for infinite gratitude. If there were merely the tiniest drop of blessing contained in that otherwise empty cup, I should be blown away by the unbelievable kindness of God toward me. That God, in fact, has given me a cup that is full of "every spiritual blessing in Christ," and this without the slightest admixture of wrath, leaves me truly dumbfounded with inexpressible joy. As for my specific earthly circumstances of plenty or want, I can see them always as infinite improvements on the hell I deserve.
When I look at any circumstance that God apportions me, I am first grateful for the wrath I am not receiving in that moment. (The empty part of the cup never looked so good!)
Secondly, I am grateful for the blessings that are given to me instead of His wrath. (Life's blessings, however small, always appear exceedingly precious when viewed against the backdrop of the wrath I deserve.) This two-layered gratitude disposes my heart to give thanks in all things and it also lends a certain intensity to my giving of thanks. Such a gospel-generated gratitude glorifies God, contributes to peace of mind, and keeps my foot from the path of foolishness and ruin.
-from Milton Vincent's, A Gospel Primer for Christians, pp. 47-48
WOW! That is exactly what my heart needed today. No, I don't need to stop loving. I don't need to stop being passionate about life. I don't need to live with no feelings. I need to instead live with the Gospel at the center of my focus. Because when I remember all that has been done for me by Jesus, everything else pales in comparison. Yes, I may have a hard situation, but God has taken away my sin and instead of pouring out His wrath on me, he has poured out abundant grace. The blessings He gives me in life should be even more precious when I think of them compared to the death and hell that I deserve. Everything God gives us daily, whether it's a cool breeze, a gorgeous sunset, a good meal, a friend who encourages us- it's all things we don't deserve. We should be in hell with absolutely nothing. We should be punished forever for our sins. All the good things we have in life are all reminders to us of God's wonderful mercy and grace! And if we go through challenges, changes, hardships- guess what? Those are God's grace too! He is teaching us and growing us through all those circumstances. And we still are getting better than we deserve. Because even if we have nothing on earth, we have Christ and we are not in hell.
Instead of being upset and hurt that I have to leave so many things behind, I can instead be thankful that God gave me things to miss. He could have given me nothing. But He chose to show me His love by giving me so many good gifts to enjoy. And best of all, He has given me Himself. He is the greatest gift we have and he NEVER changes. Yes, emotions will come and go, but I can hold onto the fact that the Gospel has freed me from sin and death, and God has given me abundant life! Not JUST eternal life, which is an amazing gift in itself, but the gift of His presence and love now.