Rooted in him. Built up in him. Established in faith. Just as you were taught. Abounding in thanksgiving. All of those images bring a connotation of time and deliberation. Roots spread slowly, seeking, reaching in the dark, pushing through the dirt and mud to find sustenance and drink what is necessary for life. A life builds up, layer upon layer, starting with a firm foundation and sediment upon sediment, washed and packed and hardened under pressure. Established; day after day of consistency and vulnerability and openness and trust. One cannot learn what is taught without effort, repetition, and determination. And between and within all of that, overflowing with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving in the waiting. Gratefulness in the effort. Rejoicing in the exertion and difficulty, in the slow motion of growth and learning.
I’m struggling right now. The monotony of daily life is slowing choking me out. And I’m railing against it by creating chaos. I’m feeling unrest so I’m creating a storm to conceal the emotional upheaval that I simply can’t bear to sort through. I choose to run and fight like others choose to hide and avoid.
The joy of salvation. Where has that gone? How do I lose that just from week to week, from blog to blog, from daily journal entry to daily journal entry? I don’t think it’s insignificant that Paul repeats the Gospel again. I can barely remember it from moment to moment. I forget that Jesus is better.
He’s better than what I am striving for, than what I rested in yesterday, than my plans for a better and more exciting future.
The crucifixion; the violent removal of the soul from the flesh, circumcision of the heart, the cutting away of self. Jesus is better. Life in Christ. Life after death. Life through death. The Gospel giving life, offering life. The Gospel is Life.
The good news is dying with him, living in him, hoping in the future through him. I have been saved from my sins – all of them – as absurd and unimaginable it is to me. My hang-ups that I keep trying to make up for are already gone. My constant failures and worries and lack of trust today are already wiped clean. My tendencies and proclivities towards selfishness and unbelief in the hazy future are already accounted atoned for. I CANNOT EARN IT. I CANNOT. How often do I have to remind myself of that? And what joy that should produce instead of shame! What freedom should burst forth in my life instead of hiding and running!
It’s because I forget that the power that saved me is still saving me. The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in me. The very Spirit of God empowers me to live a life of faith right now. Faith. Right. Now. Impossible and true. Liberating, voluntary slavery. To live is Christ, to die is gain. Now. Here. Breath by breath, tentacle by tentacle pushing deeper for more sustenance. Looking forward to him as all creation moves towards him.
One of the most difficult things I have ever done in my entire life is staying put and grinding out my daily existence. Every second I want to run for the hills. Motion – my escape; away – my destination. But sometimes the difficult things don’t come as the big, life changing events or scaling the sheer cliff faces. Sometimes, it’s accepting what I cannot earn, without merit, without cause.
Sometimes it’s stilling my hand from rewriting the record of my debt that he already set aside and nailed to the cross.
Now and not yet. He saved me, saves me, will save me from the penalty, the power and the presence of sin. God made us alive with Christ, hidden with Christ, forgiven in Christ, safe in Christ. Be still. Know that he is God. “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” (Ps. 63:3)
In response to Colossians 2:6-15
Check out the Identity Crisis message series at Discover Grace (http://discovergrace.com/messages/)