“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20 [NASB]
I’ve had many conversations over the past three weeks. A number of the conversations have taken a similar path. I’ve discovered two misconceptions that somewhat regularly appear. The two misconceptions and my answers to them may at first glance seem contradictory to one another, but they are not. The misconceptions are a misplaced credit for the strength, and failure to consider the cost our family has and is paying. Faith and Obedience.
We have repeatedly been complimented on our great strength. I believe what most people are observing in us that elicits compliments regarding strength is the fruit of our faith. On some occasions when people have clarified, they have referenced our “trusting God despite Him taking Sarah home” as strength, which is a reference to our faith itself. Because we have walked with Him for years, day in and day out, we know Him, love Him and trust Him. Though it is completely contrary to our “natural flesh” as sinners to trust Him, once we have become His children and have intimately walked with Him, we should all “naturally” explicitly trust Him. He is faithful. His Word testifies He is faithful. Our personal experience with Him has proven He is faithful. The “strength” observed is no credit to us, but all credit to Him in us. We stand because He is faithful. We stand because we have Hope because He is faithful. Sure and confident Hope in the knowledge that He loves us, that He holds each tear, that He will carry our broken hearts and that we will see Sarah again. He is the “author and perfecter of our faith”, it originates in Him and it is sustained by Him and knowledge of who He is. There is no work behind our faith, just intimate relationship with Him.
Almost seemingly contrary to the gift of faith is the work of obedience. Through this dark valley He is requiring hard things of us. My wounded mommy heart has been called to forgive a deep wound with ongoing daily impact in the absence of expressed repentance. I have been told by some He will do it for me and in me, but the reality is He calls me to do it. Forgiveness is a command not a gift. He demands that I crucify this aching mommy heart, and crucifixion hurts. There is a cost involved with following Christ, we are even challenged to consider it before we begin (Luke 14). That cost is continually dying to self to follow Him. Our obedience is our fragrant offering to Him, our sacrifice.
“Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22 [NASB]
He is worthy. The author and sustainer of my faith, the preserver of Sarah’s life and mine is worthy. Whatever the cost, He is worthy. But be not confused, there is a cost and sometimes it is great.
So today, the first wave of thought in mind as my eyes opened was how indescribably I miss Sarah. The very next was that I am called to forgive, that I must not take back the deep wound He called me to entrust to Him yesterday. I must choose again to entrust it to Him, that in His time He will heal me. I choose to do so because that is the heart of taking up my cross and following Him. We take up our cross and carry it as a reminder that we will daily have to crucify our flesh to follow Him. In my life right now it is the choice to throw off my right to be hurt and angry so I can follow Him unhindered wherever He leads. My choice of forgiveness is totally about Him and nothing to do with the other person, what they do or don’t do. My forgiveness today is my fragrant offering to Him, a desire to serve Him and follow Him no matter the cost.
I am so thankful I have known Him and walked with Him all these years, so trusting Him comes “naturally.” I’m also thankful that through His loving, gracious, tender, long-suffering, compassionate and merciful dealings with me I have come to know with all confidence, whatever the cost may be ~ He is worthy!
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. ” Hebrews 12:1-3 [NASB]
Artwork: Sarah Harmening