Release from Self-condemnation

Devotions for those who are weary of feeling not good enough, regardless of the source of those feelings.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Fall Back Into His Love

Week 9  God’s Love for Us

Day 58

Fall Back Into His Love

We often do not know our own minds, but the Lord is never at an uncertainty. We are sometimes ready to fear that God's designs are all against us; but as to his own people, even that which seems evil, is for good. He will give them, not the expectations of their fears, or the expectations of their fancies, but the expectations of their faith; the end he has promised, which will be the best for them.[i]
Matthew Henry


rief and worry over distressing situations can interfere with our awareness of God’s great love. It is good to remember that although life circumstances and our fellow human beings may trample our hopes and threaten our dreams, nothing can interfere with God’s love-directed plans for us.

Our responses to frustrating life events are often sinful and self-defeating. We show God our disapproval of His decisions by snatching pleasures He has not provided, as though to administer our own balm to wounds of disappointment. We search the pantry for something that will satisfy and, like petulant children, refuse to find our refreshment in the God who has withheld some pleasure or asked for a sacrifice we do not want to give.

When Jesus called Lazarus to come out of the tomb, the ever-practical Martha pointed out that three days had passed and the body would smell. Indeed, something that was once alive and is now dead does smell, and there is a spiritual stench around dead dreams to which we stubbornly cling beyond the time any hope of their fulfillment has passed. We must come before the Lord with hearts willing to release the secret hopes that He has not chosen to inbreathe with life, because apart from Him, we can accomplish nothing.[ii] There is no benefit in keeping a dead body of thwarted plans; it only occupies space that should be dedicated to the Lord. God has made our hearts holy by setting His Spirit to dwell within us, and something that is unclean should not be allowed to inhabit holy ground.

But it isn’t so easy. Sometimes, especially as we grow older, we fight against the death of our ideas of the way we thought things would be. We may find it impossible to let go of past dreams and move forward into circumstances God has chosen for us. The Lord’s response to our inability to shake off the old and welcome the new might be something like this: "It is very true you can't do this, but I can.  You have only to entrust yourself into My hands and allow Me to work through you." 

In God’s economy, nothing is wasted, and we serve a God who is able to resurrect lost dreams. But, as Christ said, just as a seed must fall into the ground and die before it can sprout forth with new life, we must release our ways for God’s. This exchange can feel a lot like a death, and it is not wrong to grieve. But although it feels counterintuitive, we must recognize that falling back into God’s arms (rather than plunging forward in our own strength) is the most expedient way to the new life He has promised.

Perhaps we will experience the joy and healing Naomi felt when her beloved daughter-in-law, Ruth, placed her firstborn son into Naomi's arms.[iii] Maybe we will be workers, like sensible Martha (I’m always comforted to remember that Scripture says that Jesus loved Martha despite all her bustling and worriment).[iv] And by God’s grace, we may become more like Mary, who loved to sit at Jesus' feet.[v]

Whatever the plans of the God who loves us more than we can comprehend, we can be certain that when we exchange our goals for His, we will be blessed beyond anything we could have dreamed for ourselves. 

Prayer:  Father God, I entrust my future into Your hands. Please forgive me for seeking comfort in sources not of You, and show me how to find all my needs met in You. Show me how to remain steadfast in honoring You in my behavior even when I am lonely, hungry, or tired; teach me not to let my physical state dim the expression of Your Holy Spirit through me. I release my ideas for yours because I trust in your love for me. Help me to become very good at loving others and at being loved by You. Amen.

See now that I myself am he!
    There is no god besides me.
I put to death and I bring to life,
    I have wounded and I will heal,
    and no one can deliver out of my hand.
Deuteronomy 32:39 NIV

[i] Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on Jeremiah 29, public domain.
[ii] John 15:5
[iii] Ruth 4:17
[iv] John 11:5
[v] Luke 10:39

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