With Christ’s death and resurrection the beginning has ended and the eternal journey begins.
It is finished! No more wondering if we’re enough, because we are.
No more questioning whether Christ really is who he says he is, because he is.
It’s the end of the beginning. The end of wandering, the end of separation from God and the try hard life.
Jesus is our beginning and end. The veil that separates us from God is torn and now his love is accessible through the One who was torn, beaten, mocked, and killed for us.
We all have the same beginning: darkness and bondage even when we think we’re free and in the light. But when self rules our hearts and our lives, we become enslaved to what self wants: what we see, feel, and experience.
Christ has come to set us free from the tyranny of self. Christ defeated death so that we may live a life holy and set apart for him. So, you see, Easter really is the end of the beginning.
We get to live the middle part now. It’s the part of life between our resurrection from spiritual death to life, and the day when we see Jesus face to face in eternity. How well will we live?
Will we falter and fail? Will we doubt and question?
Yes and yes. But we have a power available to us. A power that says that “greater is he in me than he that is in the world.” And this I know: it’s grace that enables me to live this life for Christ, through Christ, and in Christ.
It’s grace that transforms me. Grace enables me to give myself up for a living sacrifice. It’s grace that enables our lives to be set apart and holy. I crash and burn when I try and live for Christ through my strength and understanding. I know failure well.
But the beautiful thing we get to experience in our failures is redemption. It’s redemption that makes getting back up again possible. It’s the daily resurrection of my spiritual life when I make “self” the number one motivator in my heart.
I want to live this middle life well, but I know how life gets monotonous and we forget what we did this morning let along two days ago. And when life gets monotonous I forget to look around and see evidences of grace in my life.
Or life is one crisis after another and rather than holding onto the anchor of grace we flounder and hold onto ourselves and our limited understanding. Crisis’ can blind us to the redemptive work of Christ in our lives.
It’s the end of the beginning! Your beginning steps are over and done and now it’s time to run. Run the race God has for you with your eyes fixed on the prize–eternity with the Father of Light. Let him shine that light into all the recesses of your life and keep on running.
You’ll make it. How do I know?
Because God is your strength. He is your love. He is your light. And he will finish it.
Every year, I avoided a certain appointment. I wanted to know about it, but I didn’t want to be there for it. I panicked and my heart did funny things.
My heart raced and I couldn’t sleep for weeks leading up to the appointment. It consumed my waking thoughts and disturbed my sleep. I couldn’t seem to accomplish anything except worry.
Psalm 112:7 snapped me out of my funk: “He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” I feared bad news. My heart wanted to be steadfast and it wanted to trust, but it struggled.
I’ve been exploring the concept of security in Christ and Psalm 112:7 could fit in with the next three verses used to assure us of security in an insecure world.
“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his sear of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” 1 Corinthians 1:21-22 NIV
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NIV
“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Philippians 3:20-21 NIV
Psalm 112:7, along with these three verses, may have penetrated the hard shell of fear around my heart, but I still struggled with the cycle of worry and lack of sleep.
I laid wide awake, listening to the creaky bones of an old farmhouse. The furnace cycled on and then off trying heat the drafty rooms. The water softener’s recycle echoed through the register vents. I listened to the coyote’s song and watched the red numbers on the digital clock creep their way to morning night after night.
I treated this event with the same intensity as Chicken Little in the children’s story who decided the sky must be falling when a single acorn hit him on the head. I laughed at the foolishness of Chicken Little, but when I became Chicken Little, I didn’t laugh. This appointment was an acorn, not the sky, but I treated it as though the sky was falling. It was completely and utterly ridiculous and I knew it.
I knew my angst over this situation and I knew the word of God, but the battle within my heart raged and rarely did the word of God win. I said I trusted God, but my actions and my words did not jive.
I felt the truth God’s word strike me in such a way that my ‘sky is falling’ perspective fell from the sky and lay shattered at my feet.
My security is not found in the outcome of appointments, good health, or financial freedom. It’s found in my one true King. Your security is found there as well. He is trustworthy. He is secure.
When he is our rock, we can trust that he is working things out. He views a much larger picture, and we don’t need to see the entire picture in order to trust him. He is our security.
My circumstances do not establish me. God establishes me. He takes this wretched fear-filled heart and fills me with anointing. He anoints you as well. He calls you beloved and he lays before you the task to trust him. We need his anointing to do this well. It’s impossible to trust well without his love coursing over and through us. If I don’t have his anointing, then my fear, anxiety and worry overtakes the goodness he longs to do in me and through me.
Our failures do not adversely affect our security because I know that God will complete the good work he began. He is the one who saves. He is the one who sets our feet on the solid rock. He is the one who rescues, redeems and gives a purpose for this life. And if he is the one who does the beginning, then he will do the middle, and he will do the completing.
We need only to submit, surrender, and obey. He is our everything. He is love. He is the beginning, the middle, and the end. This gives us the security we need to face those hard days when we are not trusting him well. It’s the security we need when we’re overtaken by angst on the parts of our story yet to be.
The sky is not falling. I can never recover those sleepless nights because the worry didn’t change the outcome. The fear of what might be was greater than reality, but I couldn’t see it at the time. Irrational fear overtook me in the face of our annual tax appointment. Yes, my friends, it was a measly tax appointment that was the acorn in my Chicken Little Story.
In my mind, this acorn held my hopes for security, but that’s not an acorn’s job. An acorn’s job is to grow a tree and God used this ‘acorn’ to grow faith in my heart as I transferred my security from a circumstance to him.
What is the acorn that has fallen that makes you cry out, ‘The sky is falling!’ Will you let God show you where your security lies and how he can turn your acorn into faith that your security is in him?
Anyone who has played volleyball with me would agree: I spend more time ducking than I do spiking. They know I do not belong on any court involving a flying ball. I also don’t belong on a debate room floor as I stumble over my words and respond emotionally rather than logically. This is a type of belonging based on our strengths and interests and giftings, but there is another type of belonging. This other type of belonging resides in the heart of every man and woman and is the most difficult one to fulfill in our own strength and understanding.
I know what the unfulfilled yearning to belong feels like. It feels like I’m gazing through a window at a party of people who belong, while I shiver, not just from the cold rain, but from a longing deep within to belong to something or someone where the warmth and love is evident.
In my vision, I see a smiling someone motioning me to come to the door and I see myself taking a few tentative steps towards the door, thinking ‘Could it be?’ ‘Is this the place for me?’ As I reach for the handle, I see my tattered sleeve and I halt. I’m ashamed of my state, the state that comes from the wear and tear of living life. I gaze into the window again and the welcoming glance turns into a questioning glance as I slowly back away, fighting tears, with heart breaking over the awareness that once again, I perceive I don’t belong.
This sense of not belonging haunts and taunts and I am not alone in experiencing this feeling. One mis-perception leads to another and so it is with the mis-perception of ‘I’m not good enough.’ Our faulty beliefs of ‘not enough’ feed the sense of ‘not belonging.’
This longing to belong is birthed by God in our spirit so that we will long to belong to him. This gift, left untended or rejected, produces an unhealthy search to find our sense of belonging in people, performance, and professions.
The longing to be is a gift and the gift received is to belong.
“But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” 1 Corinthians 6:17
When you respond to his call upon your hearts and say, ‘yes’ to his Lordship in your life you become unified with him. When all else falls apart and you are facing division in your personal life, you can know that your spirit is one with the Lord and be at peace. You belong to him.
“Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you have been bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (emphasis mine)
You were bought at a price. God demonstrates the value he places on you through the cost of his Son’s sacrifice. You could argue that you are not worth a life, especially the life of God’s son, but your arguments have no bearing on the simple, profound, life-altering truth that you are treasured beyond measure. You are valuable. You belong.
“You are the body of Christ, and each one of you is part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27
There will be a place at the table, on the other side of the rain-splattered window, for you if you will say yes to the invitation and come in from the rain. As a member of the body of Christ, you are gifted with a purpose and this purpose is to encourage, love, serve, and pray for each other. It doesn’t take an extra-ordinary person to offer a smile, a hand, and a heart. It takes the extra-ordinary God whom you serve to work through you to fulfill his purpose in the body of Christ. You belong to the body of Christ and have a place in it.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:3-8
A longing to be loved is fulfilled when we read these words from Ephesians. In love he chooses us. In love he keeps us. In love he freely bestows the title of ‘Child.’ Adoption is the heart of God and just like any adoption there will be an adjustment period. Because many of us have little experience with the depth and strength of a love so pure, a questioning about the truth of this kind of love wells up within us and we ask: “Will God still love me if I disappoint him? Will God stick by me when I’m at my worst? Will God be safe enough to reveal my deep, deep hurts to him?” You belong to God because he says you do.
These verses assure us we are one with Christ in the Holy Spirit, we are valuable and priceless, we have purpose in the body of Christ, and we’re chosen in love by God.
The gift of longing to be is fulfilled when we find our unity, our value, our purpose, and our love in God who says we belong at his table of grace. He flings wide the door and pulls you in despite your worn and tattered coat and he takes that worn garment from you and gives you new clothes. Clothes that signify you belong to him.