I’m not as righteous as I think I am.
This thought occurred to me as I went for what has become one of my infrequent runs. I’d like to be a daily or tri-weekly runner, and some months I’ve really kept to that goal. But the past few months of this fall have not been a success for me in the exercising department. But you know what I realized about myself as I went for my infrequent run today? I consider myself to be a faithful exerciser. Or at least I think of my appearance as athletic...but I certainly have not been a faithful exerciser. I go through spurts where I’m excited and faithful, but then I fall back into not wanting to go...and not going.
As I was thinking about that reality and coming to terms with what I actually am not in the exercise department, I started thinking about my heart. I’m talking about my spiritual heart: what I hope in to give me meaning and joy in my life, what I look to for safety and security in the everyday moments of life, where I get my sense of worth. I had just read a little blurb from a book called Jesus Calling before I went for my run, and it said this: “The more demanding your day, the more help you can expect from Me. This is a training opportunity, since I designed you for deep dependence on your Shepherd-King. Challenging times wake you up and amplify your awareness of needing My help.”
As I was running and thinking about my spiritual heart and those few sentences from the book, I realized that I’m really not as righteous as I think I am.
I think I’m following God. I think I’m wise. I think I’m not following the path of our culture. But I’m really not. If you look deep inside my heart, at my motivations during a monotonous day, at the nitty-gritty aspects of my life (like for example, what I eat, how much, when, and WHY), you’ll find that so much of my spiritual heart is not led by love for Jesus. It’s led by care for myself, by a commitment to provide for myself, a habit of making my own decisions.
As I thought about this on my run, my first inclination was to change my life, do better. Follow God better.
But my second thought was this: “God knows me completely. He knows all the places I fall short. That’s why He sent Jesus: because I COULD NOT do better. I could not make my life right. I could not love Him with my whole heart. I could not BE righteous.” That’s the beauty of the Gospel. God knows the reality of my spiritual heart WAY better than I do. He’s not fooled by my ‘I sometimes run=I’m a faithful runner’ mentality about my spiritual heart. And His solution is not to beat myself into getting it right and doing better. Amazingly enough, He offers Himself to me: to love me, to continue to Himself do the work to redeem me, and to passionately pursue me. He won’t give up on me. I don’t have to pretend that I’m better than I am. I can be a mess, and be loved there, just the way I am.