I realised this week that of all the things that stress me out, for the first time in forever, Jesus is not one of them.
For most of my life, my relationship with God was seated in anxiety and shame: I must please Him, I must compensate Him for the bad deal He got when He paid my debt. Even when I understood that I was His princess, I still had this drive to (in the words of Mutemath) “Do more, be more, check your … Blood pressure.”
As I’m coming to understand the gospel of grace, and the shape of the heart that offers it (this is a learning curve, let me tell you) I feel more and more that Jesus and I are on the same team. Sounds ridiculous? Of course we are, always have been … but I didn’t FEEL it. I’m learning to move away from self-reliance and work ethic. For me, these are manifestations of pride (“Look what a good/clever/hardworking girl am I”) and doubting His love (“Caring for me is a burden I can relieve Him of, by not asking for help.”) Neither of these attitudes are relationship-builders, and certainly not when you’re in a covenant, where the goal is oneness. He has volunteered to be yoked to me in partnership for a reason. He’s not looking for an out. Depending on Him to shape me and my world and my destiny is not slackness. It is the very heart of our faith. It was never about what we could do on our own.
Jesus, when I make Him my refuge – the first one I turn to – will set next to me during any amount of shame, neither negating my culpability nor turning away in disgust. Jesus, when I ask to borrow His strength, His joy, His patience and serenity, expands my limited capacities. The hiding place I find in Him is not so much a crutch – though we are a crippled world – as a cache. He armours me up in His love and leads me out into life. Usually, from right behind.
God does not always rescue us from danger, sickness or evil. The book of Hebrews tells us that despite prayer and enormous faith, some get miracles and some get martyrdom. We don’t know which we will get, but we know Him. We don’t know what critieria the outcomes depend on, but we can depend on Him to sustain us through to any end. Like all of the spectators in the heavenly stadium, we can still be people of faith. It is a Spirit fruit flavour He can lend us and build in us from His limitless capacity. We can continue to pray for our world, act wisely, and put our trust in the God who, somehow, works all things together for our ultimate good, who holds us close during adversity (which He told us frankly would come along).
I have found Him generous-hearted and constant. And while His agenda may not always look like mine, I will trust in His massive intelligence, proactive wisdom, and deep, engaged love to walk me through this season. And if you’re ready to give up depending on your own reserves, being your own saviour (not to put too fine a point on it!) you can too. He’s ready.