We are in the middle of our fourth week of DTS here in Muizenberg and our lectures are on “The Cost of Discipleship” this week. Last week, the topic was Grace, preceded by “The Father Heart of God” and before that, “The Character and Nature of God.” I have to admit, it has been pretty intense. My notes are so messy and disorganized and have lots of stars, exclamation marks, and then some prayers of desperation written out on the side. We are being fed so much information about who God is and what it looks like and while a lot of information is familiar, many Scripture passages and teachings about who God REALLY is and what a life of discipleship is really about are totally rocking my world.
So many of my views are being challenged and God is asking me to let go of a lot of preconceived notions about Him. Grace week – while amazing – was super hard for me. One thing God really convicted me about was legalism and a spirit of striving. I tend to think that I embrace the grace of God really well and I don’t think of myself as very legalistic because I’m not a huge fan of rules. However, when I really examine my life, I see how much I try to control my faith and how much “doing” inhabits my life rather than abiding. We are called to abide in Christ…not get caught up in tasks all of the time. I’m realizing that a lot of things I do – from routine and disciplined Bible reading to small groups to serving in church to saying “yes” to volunteer activities – aren’t necessarily out of obedience to God or a heartfelt desire to serve Him because I love Him but are, at times, an effort to work my way into better favor with Him.
Pretty crazy, huh?
I know there are many times when these activities do stem from a very deep love for God and a gratitude for all that He has done, but sometimes my nature of self-sufficiency, independence and a spirit of striving just leave me feeling drained and far from God. I’ve been convicted to really check my heart and receive the grace that God so freely gives. Salvation isn’t about what I can do for God – it’s about acknowledging that God has literally redeemed me from death and in turn, receiving His precious, costly, and free gift. For freedom we have been set free. I was once a slave – dead in sin, with an impossible debt to pay – and He not only bought me out of bondage but He has also adopted me into His family. My response, then, should be one of service and adoration because I’m so awed by Him and grateful for such a precious gift, not because I feel obligated to check off some things off of a “good Christian” to-do list.
It’s tough to have your perspective shattered. But it is really good. Because when God breaks down all of our theories, philosophies, and ideas, He can build us up again and breathe truth and life and grace and mercy where before there was only self-condemnation, self-righteousness, self-sufficiency, and plain old selfishness. My prayer is that He will replace my heart of stone with a heart of flesh and continue to mold me into the person He dreamed me up to be. I have so much growing yet to do, but He is gentle and patient with me and is teaching me so much and blessing me in so many ways. I pray that He breaks down my walls and breaks through all my defenses so I may experience Him in completely new ways unlike ever before. He is meeting me in BIG ways! I am thankful for the struggle because I know there is great freedom waiting on the other side.
There is so much more happening, but I have accepted the fact that I will not be able to communicate the majority of it. That said, if you have any specific questions, please feel free to shoot me an email at any point: gallaghorical (at) gmail (dot) com.
Since I shared a bit about how much these lectures (and that’s not even all of the DTS experience…definitely being stretched by a variety of people/interactions/experiences) are stretching me, I might as well share the summary of thoughts inspired by today’s talk:
Self-importance robs us of Gospel effectiveness. We are called to know God and make Him known to the ends of the earth. When our entire existence on earth is all about our desires, our preferences, our dreams, and our hopes, then we submit ourselves to our own lordship rather than the lordship of Jesus Christ.
This is blatant idolatry. This is offensive to God and not only robs Him of His glory, but also denies us the satisfaction of being found in Christ. We miss out on living the adventure God designed for us when we settle, instead, for a safe life committed to worldly success and self-preservation.
This lifestyle is not only contrary to the life we are called to as Christians, but also reflects an inaccurate view of the Living God whom we claim to serve. It’s time to stop feeding the puny god of our imaginations and beg for an encounter with the Living God and see how He wrecks and transforms our lackluster lives.
May we hunger and thirst for MORE, my friends! More of God – the real, Living God as opposed to the God of our imaginations – and less of ourselves. There is so much more about Him that we have yet to learn and experience. He desires to be known by us!
In Jeremiah 29, we are promised that we will find Him if we seek Him with all of our hearts. Oh friends – may we not waste another minute striving through life without the fullness of His presence. For in His presence, there is fullness of joy!