Everything I Need From Him
I’m not sure who to blame, but I frequently have to sit myself down and REFOCUS. Whether it’s planning a meal, cleaning the house, or moving forward in my ministry, I find myself asking “Now what was I doing again?” I’m sure it doesn’t have anything to do with the 4 other people who live here, the constantly changing schedule, the bills that need paid, or the complicated nature of relationships.
In any case, I always feel better when I can “refresh” the page so to speak, reviewing and recommitting to the plan. Recently I did that with She Finds Truth and a little chart came out of it. (Obviously this is not a complete chart of all God offers us.)
HOW our Faithful God
IS WITH US
in our daily, ordinary lives
comfort, encouragement, love, faith, hope, forgiveness, reassurance, promises, salvation, goodness, truth, wisdom, peace, perseverance, strength, etc..
THRU the Means of Grace:
Baptism, Confession and Absolution, Holy Communion, Fellowship, Scripture
FOR everyday stuff like
pain, hurt, anger, frustration, shame, self-worth, frustration, helplessness, fear, despair, finances, careers, relationships (marriages, families, parenting, friendships..), etc.
The other day I tweeted that we always need God. It’s not “If I need God today He will be here.” The truth is I need God all the time. Every second. Every minute. All the time.
That’s why He is called “The Helper” in multiple verses including “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid” Hebrews 13:6.
But HOW is He here with me? Does He show up if I concentrate hard enough? If I’ve prayed the right words? Maybe if I sit quietly and listen really hard then He will show up. If I get up early enough will that help?
Turns out He is here regardless of what I do.
“The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8
I glanced up at my chart and saw the category that says He IS WITH US. In it I’ve listed specific ways we know God comes to us. It doesn’t mean He isn’t around if one of these things isn’t happening, but these are the ways He promises to bring us His grace and mercy. This is how we know it’s Him and not an impostor. (Yeah, I’m looking at you Satan.)
As I pondered this list it occurred to me – this includes everything I need from Him.
In my Baptism I have the promise from God that I have been made His child. My baptism tells me for sure that God knows my name and has given me the Holy Spirit to live and work in my life. It doesn’t mean I can’t reject all that, but it means He definitely has washed me clean with His spirit. It means no matter how I feel today or what I am facing, I can remember the water of my rescue, make the sign of the cross, take a deep breath and rest in the truth.
“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:4
Confession and Absolution
Most days I’m keenly aware of my screw-ups. I’m faced with mistakes I’ve made: ugly thoughts and angry reactions. How can I know God is with me even when I’m being SOOO ungodly? One thing I can turn to is absolution – the declaration that I am forgiven for the sin I have confessed. That I have been made right with God because of His mercy and sacrifice. Confession and absolution reflect the right order of things – remind me of the humility that I should have, and the grace that I most assuredly have. Even my confession is inadequate really, but God still accepts it and proclaims my righteousness.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
There’s a lot that can be said about the Lord’s supper and I’m not going to try to cover all of it. For sure Jesus’ blood being given for the forgiveness of my sins is a huge deal and I want to take part in that. I want to accept the cup and the bread, the feast that Jesus provides for me quenching my thirst and hunger. But in addition to this, when we commune at the Lord’s table, we are part of a feast that brings me close to God and the neighbors he has commanded me to love. I stand, sit, or kneel next to these people who are at the altar the same as me – sinners in need. And then God comes to me in the form of a mystery, which is placed in my hand and my body. Literal community is given to me. Community with the people in the room but also WITH MY GOD. This one-on-one with God is a gift that nourishes my soul because I’m in community WITH my heavenly Father. And I’m reminded of the feast to come where I will be with Him, in a new and better way, for eternity.
“The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” I Corinthians 10:16-17
(For more on the Lord’s Supper and the means of grace, here’s a podcast...)
There’s no question the Sisters and Brothers I have in Christ reveal God to me regularly. Whether it’s wisdom they share, the encouragement to confess, or a new perspective on a holy concept – God uses them to comfort, reassure, and teach me about the Truth. When believers uplift one another, God’s work is being done in those lives and they both benefit. I can be quick to dismiss the community when I’d rather crawl into my hole then interact with the outside world (and sometimes it’s good to sleep on it). But often fellowship with other believers can get me back on track for serving my family and taking care of business. This doesn’t mean if a fellow believer says something, it’s “gospel.” But it means God uses the Church of believers to come near to us. Group Bible study or a phone call (or social media chat!) with a fellow believer can do wonders for our perspective and strength. That’s because God is working through us. Praise be to Christ.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25
God spoke life into existence. He speaks truth and hope and salvation in His Word and I love being able to go to His book and find Him. I treasure the depth with which He used history and people to reveal Himself to us. I love that He pours out His love in the words on these pages. The Holy Spirit never seems to tire of revealing new Truth to me with old familiar passages.
“And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13
These are the ways God comes to us, speaks to us, and strengthens us. And this is all I need. I don’t need lightening to come out of the sky, or a dramatic vision. I don’t need goose bumps or an out-of-body experience. I need promises and I love the way He uses the physical world to come to me.