"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."--1 John 1:8, 9 "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."--Matt 11:28-30
Starting this month on Mondays (today!), I am challenging myself to write a little reflection based on something I read from Sarah Young's devotional, Jesus Calling. I have really enjoyed this little book, as it is written as if our Lord is speaking to us. Sometimes, I need to confess, after years of doing inductive Bible study, I tend to forget that the One who authors the Word is my Father, Lover, and Friend, as well as my Lord. Too often, then, I keep Him at arm's length or reduce Him to a mental exercise. My hope is that through these Monday thoughts together, you too can come to know our Father on a more intimate level.
For the past few weeks, I have been feeling very bitter and angry inside, which has seeped out into how I treated others, particularly my own family members. I knew that I was behaving badly, and that unless something changed, all that I had valued and worked for would be lost. I felt like I was both a hypocrite and a bad example to my children as I let my selfish desires rule my heart. In these moments, it has been very easy for me to hide from God instead of turning to Him. Surely, I reason, He wouldn't want such a naughty child as me!
And yet, that is the whole point of grace, isn't it? If it was up to me living "right" then no, it would not be surprising if He turned away from me. But it isn't. In fact, He actually would rather have me come to Him and admit my sin instead of hiding from Him or pretending it doesn't exist. Because of the Fall, I know that my fleshly impulse is to hide as Adam and Eve did. But He already knows my heart...and He still comes looking for me.
For me, learning to walk in the newness of the Spirit then, means to humbly ask for and accept His forgiveness. He invites me to walk with Him in freedom from the burden of guilt that I carry. If I am willing to admit my sin, He will take that burden and free me from its weight so that I can stand upright. The yoke of guilt is not one He places on me. It is one I accept when I listen to the accusations and lies of the evil one. No wonder the burden is so heavy! When I bend over, I am making it easier for the enemy to keep heaping junk on my back! But if I stand up straight because of what Christ has done for me, there is no such opportunity...in fact, it slides right off!
But when I am willing to humble myself and receive His cleansing and forgiveness, I can hold my head up once again because He has washed my sin away. And even if there is a yoke to bear, it is one that is not meant to be back-breaking but easy. He will teach me how to walk in a new way, one that is grounded in truth and light to carry. I have been so frustrated with sins I keep repeating over and over and over. But He is willing to forgive over and over and over...but also willing to show me a way out if I am open to humble myself before Him and receive His forgiveness.
How about you today? Do you also feel frustrated with the burden of sin you bear? Then I hope you will join me in coming to the foot of the cross and letting Him help us relieve this unnecessary weight we carry. For He has made it possible to live freely and lightly as we stand up straight and walk with Him in newness of life.