On the public bus on the way to high school, I read Ephesians 4-6 nearly every morning. The truths were exciting, and it seemed so simple to see if believers, including myself, would just DO these things, how exciting it would be to see the Father's work.
Years passed. I realized, vaguely, that there was something to Eph 1-3 (and the beginning of Colossians for that matter). I mentally assented to the fact that we needed to be grounded in the first half of the book, in order to live the second. But I wasn't and I didn't. Like too many others, I thought I had this part under my belt. It was the doing/obeying I wanted to do--to see progress, results. How woefully wrong I was. I did not meditate on it. I did not devour it the same way I have the second half of these books--and that to my detriment.
It lead to despair. Over and over I was distressed at my failure, at my lack of progress. I was in pain. I quickly discovered no one had real answers for me. I occasionally corned a teacher I respected, but still no answers came.
The meetings we attend practice the Lord's supper, for a full hour, every Sunday. This meeting is designed to spend time meditating on who the Lord is and His Sacrifice for us. I have watched, at times, as tears stream down a seasoned believers faith, or an old man nearly laugh or cry for joy as he stands to share of the love of Christ.
I like to study. I'm a well-read believer. I have taught the gospel, led a few to Christ and discipled them. But I think I am still on the shore when it comes to understanding the love of God.
I have had one taste. While teaching 5 day clubs with my (then unknown to us) future husband, I made it a point to think about the blood of Christ while he taught the Bible Lesson. That mean for about 15-20 minutes, three times a day, for three weeks, I considered the blood of Jesus. I will tell you that although the youngest child raised in a Christian home can tell you Jesus shed His blood for our sins, that blood-letting was much more dear to me than when we began.
I think this is the key to endurance. It's the key to joy. It's the vehicle that allows some to stand up under persecution and martyrdom. To know the love of God..how rich and pure,...how measureless and strong....that will keep our heads clear, and motivate our obedience.
On the way to meeting on Sundays I've been reading Elyse Fitzpatrick's Because He loves Me. This morning I read
This verse (Eph 4:32) demonstrates a beautiful synergy that not only tells us what to do, but also plants with our souls the only motive that will empower God-pleasing compliance: what God has already done. We've already been forgiven in Christ. So many of us cavalierly gloss of over what he has done and zero in on what we're to do , and that shift, though it might seem slight, makes all the difference in the world. Our obedience has its origin in God's prior action, and forgetting that truth results in self-righteousness, pride and despair." (pg 110)
This brings us to the uncomfortable, humiliating realization that our righteousness is as filthy rags. We aren't going to be able to pull ourselves up by our sanctified boot straps and be obedient. We are dependant on the love of the Father evoking this in us. But even a humiliating truth is a freeing truth. May we comprehend and live out the implications of His unearned love for us each day.