A holy hush settled over the entire room. The soft and tender tones of women singing out their sincere love and longing for Jesus filled the atmosphere. It was a taste–just a tiny taste–of heaven on earth.
Then it happened.
(Oh why does it always happen?)
“If you’re struggling with SIN don’t let anything keep you from Jesus. He’s here, He’s ready to forgive you. But you need to confess–to Him and to each other–you need to get your heart right. So find someone to confess to tonight. Tell someone your struggle. We don’t want anyone to miss what God is doing.”
Oh, those weren’t the exact words. But they’re close enough. I could recite them a hundred different ways. I’m sure you could too.
Because we’ve all heard them SO many times.
The theme is always the same. We’re sinners who need to do some serious soul–searching–and endure some deep soul cleansing–if we really want to get close to God.
It all sounds so spiritual. It sounds so scriptural. Sometimes it even sounds loving–as though the speaker really has our very best interests at heart. And usually they are convinced they do! They absolutely mean it for good …
But the enemy doesn’t.
Here’s the deal, you can make all those arguments–and they’re really compelling arguments–because there is truth in those statements. If there wasn’t, we’d all immediately reject such “exhortations” and go right back to worship. Instead there is just enough truth to draw us — to woo us — over and over again — into the enemy’s web. We’re drawn into hell’s no-win lair and before we know it, once again, we’re drawn out of worship — out of a focus on His wonder — and into a never-ending self-examination …
Of our wretchedness.
I’m sick of it. Been completely over it for years. And I refuse to buy the lie or play along any longer.
I refuse to buy the lie that His sacrifice wasn’t enough. The lie that somehow I need to respond just right … feel just right … act just right … confess just right … pray just right … examine my heart just right …
To draw near to Him.
And I refuse to stand by silently and watch helplessly as others–sincere lovers of Jesus, who are sincerely doing their best to walk in His ways–get pulled into the abyss of self-examination. … the abyss of self-effort …
The abyss of self-focus.
On occasion, there may be those for whom that type of exhortation is encouraging and helpful–but it’s rarely the ones who are walking in darkness who get “convicted” by those statements. Instead, it’s usually the tender ones. The sincere ones. The ones who are doing their very best to love Him but never seem to get it quite right (and really, who does?). The ones who want to be pleasing to Him but still struggle sometimes (and really, who doesn’t?). But now, instead of leading them to Jesus –you’ve just drawn their gaze away from Him and onto the mess in their heart (and really, who doesn’t have a few messy places in their heart?).
What part of “It is FINISHED” is so very difficult for us to accept?
He paid for our sin–all of it. He already made a way into the HOLY place–the place where He dwells. He’s made a way into His presence. We’re invited to come boldly before His throne …
Before the throne of grace.
We’ aren’t transformed by endlessly examining the mess in our hearts, we’re transformed in His presence. “And we, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory” (2.Cor.3:18).
It’s not self-focus and confession of our wretchedness that changes us, it’s God-focus and confession of His wonder that draws us to the throne of grace — to the place of acceptance and love — just as we are.
And the knowledge that we’re loved — truly loved, no matter what — is what frees us from the shackles of this world. It’s what draws us closer.
Intimacy with God has never been and will never be based on performance. It is His kindness and His mercy that lead us to repentance. He knows when, where, and how to reveal the things that hinder us. And drawing a group of people who are desperately hungry for Him out of His presence and into a focus on their own failures is NOT usually how He does it.
If your gaze has been wooed away from wonder–I’m so sorry. It’s not His heart. It’s not His doing. He loves you. He desires you. Right here, right now, even if you NEVER get it right.
If you’ve been pulled away from Him and lured into a focus on your own wretchedness, whether by your own guilt and misunderstanding of His character, or by the well-meaning but misguided spiritual counsel of others–don’t buy the lie for another second! Look up. Look to Him. Gaze upon His glory. Behold His beauty. You’re worthy because He says you’re worthy. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the ONLY Author and Perfecter of your faith. The One who already paid for ALL your wretchedness so that now, and forever …
Your heart will always be filled with wonder.
Because He already thinks you’re pretty wonderful. Just as you are. (Really, He does.)
(NOTE: I published a slightly different version of this a few years ago, but since this is the topic He put on my heart for the podcast this week, I tweaked it a bit rather than recreating the wheel.)
Here is the podcast link for this week’s devotion: Monday Morning Musings – Wretch or Wonder?
And the Sound Cloud Link:
8 thoughts on “Monday Morning Musings: Wretch or Wonder?”
Are you always speaking directly to me? 🙂 Thank you! Hit the spot… It’s Him, it’s always been Him! sigh…
Ha ha – He is so good and always knows just what we need 😊 You are so right … it has always been and always will be, Him ❤️ Love and hugs to you!
Oh the glory of His Presence…you’re right Cindy…being in His presence brings transformation…so that we take our eyes off self, off sin consciousness and are Conscious of His Presence. Bless you!
Amen. So much better to fix our eyes on Him!! Blessings and hugs to you, Glenda!
“Are you focusing more on wretchedness or you focusing on wonder?”
“We aren’t transformed by endlessly examining the mess in our hearts, we’re transformed in His presence.”
Amen and amen! I’ve been in some of those meetings, too. Unfortunately for many Christians, conviction of sin is the only real encounters they have with God. We call that revival. Pretty sad.
Oooh that thought pains me – literally. Even more so
because I know it is true. Makes it all the more important to keep shouting about His goodness from the rooftops! Thanks for being a faithful voice in doing just that!!
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What grace our Father bestows on us to move us from our knees to His loving arms, embracing us as His very own children and to be able to rest between His shoulders throughout our days. Yes, we must share the good news…our God longs to be near us. It is u fathomable, but that Truth is what sets us free to walk in His ways.
Yes! So unfathomable, yet such amazingly, wonderfully, marvelous good news that must be shared! Xoxo