I read a devotional this morning further reminding me of this truth. The writer of the devotional, Gwen Smith, who is also a Christian music artist, wrote, "When you embrace the deep love of Christ as a personal reality, you gain traction for powerful, meaningful living that begins with forgiveness and continues on in truth and grace." And that, my friends, is the Gospel in a nutshell. I was so intrigued by her statement, I read it several times, slowly and out loud, gleaning a bit more revelation each time. (I'm thinking, "Dang, that's good!")
The part about gaining traction for powerful, meaningful living particularly spoke to me. And now I'm going to expose my undeniable redneckness with this next analogy. When I think about traction (or lack thereof), I picture mud-slinging (in true redneck style, that I admittedly have been a part of once or twice in my life)... trucks with oversized tires, covered in mud, out of control and spinning their wheels, burning fuel but not really going anywhere in particular, burning hot and creating a smokey scene as the muddy water meets the engine.
Rather than just meditating on her words and my own redneck analogy, I began to think about how this idea of God's love giving us traction in life lines up with the scripture...
1. Without complete surrender of our lives to Jesus as Lord, we too are like spinning wheels, with no traction to truly move us forward in life. We may work really hard (or not) to be a good person, to do all the right things, but without His grace, we, like mud-slinging tires, toil in vain.
- For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- Ephesians 2:8
- Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6
2. When we don't embrace, or perhaps even realize, the unconditional love Jesus has for us, we still find ourselves as spinning wheels, trying so hard to earn His love, or worse yet trying to find love and approval from everyone else.
- "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." 1 Peter 3:3-4
At first glance, you might not see how that verse, specifically speaking to women, is related to embracing God's love. Bear with me.As a commonly loud and most of the time, outgoing person, I really felt like I was at a real disadvantage on the whole gentle and quiet thing. I looked in awe at other women who were reserved and physically quiet with gentle dispositions. Why couldn't I be that way too? It just seemed so out of character for me. Then, through encouragement from a friend and further study on the scripture, I learned that the (transliterated) word for quiet in this verse is shaan, meaning to be at ease or rest securely. What a relief to learn that God was speaking about gentleness and quietness as conditions of the heart rather than personality.
"But the LORD said to Samuel, "For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart."- 1 Sam 16:7
During so many moments I have felt like a mouse on a wheel (or a mud-slingin' truck) exerting much energy to feel loved, fulfilled, worthy, and approved, all the while dealing with the same insecurities, the same obstacles, the same exhaustion. Jesus is saying to my noisy, restless spirit (not my voice), be quiet. Rest in me. Stop striving. I love you just the way you are. When we embrace the love of Christ for us, when we know, truly know, how much he adores us, our wheels will stop spinning; all striving can cease. There's nothing to prove, nothing to earn. In this, believing Christ's love for us, we move forward to powerful, meaningful, genuine, sincere, and grace-sustained lives. Oh how he loves us. Now that is something our spirits can rest in.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. -Ephesians 3:16-19