Friday, 19 September 2014
Galatians: Freedom and Figuring out God’s Will
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
You would think that staying free is easy, but I am beginning to see how often I put myself back in chains.
The clue on Tuesday evening was utter fatigue to the point of tears. What’s up with that? This day wasn’t that bad or even that hard. Why do I feel so spent? That’s the question I asked the Lord the next morning. What made me so tired and discouraged?
I reviewed the previous day’s events. Yes, an appointment went long, forcing me to change my schedule. Yes, I felt badly about having to put the dog in the crate so soon after coming home. And yes, I was juggling problems in my mind like so many jigsaw pieces, trying to rearrange them so that they would fit together neatly. They were refusing to do so.
What’s the good news you have for me today, Father? I turned to Galatians 1:1-5 and reread it. The gospel is so clearly presented in verses 3-5 that I lingered over it, writing out each phrase as a separate thought:
Grace and peace to you (and me!)
from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
who gave himself for our sins
to deliver us from the present evil age
according to the will of our God and Father
to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
My attention was caught by the phrase, “according to the will of God our Father.” I realized that I had been trying to figure out God’s will for my day yesterday. I was trying to listen to him, make a wise plan, choose between conflicting options, and get it right. I also realized that this is a daily experience not just for me, but for many of my sisters in Christ.
We wake up and ask, “What is God’s will for me today?” Usually we mean, “What does he want me to do? Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing? Should I be doing more? Less? Something else entirely?” One woman told me in anguish over lunch, “I just want to please the Lord with my life!” Another friend admitted to asking herself regularly throughout the day, “Is this what I should be doing? I have a little free time today. Whom should I call? There are three people who need a meal this week. Whom should I help?”
The good news is that we actually care about God’s will. This is evidence of a new nature. Wanting to please God with the use of our time is not coming from our old self, but from our new self. Hallelujah! However, the overly sensitive conscience that believes I please him by the quantity and quality of things I do for him is not part of my new nature. It is a reversion to earning his pleasure by my works.
Do you relate? Where do you see this in your life? I see it in myself when I start adding extras to my to do list. Not because those things need to be done, but because of a vague feeling that I haven’t “done enough.” I mean, if some works are good, more must be better. Right? I also see it when I am troubled by the quality of my works. I don’t just want to do a good work, I want to do the best-possible-work-in-the-moment. For example if I’m reading, I think, “I should be making a meal for someone.” So I get up and pull out the cutting board and knives. Then as I start to chop, I think, “I should be studying,” and look back toward the book still sitting open on the table.
Under the guise of seeking God’s will for my day I am trying to save myself, assuaging my conscience by my works. This is definitely NOT God’s will for me! What is? Galatians 1:4 tells me. God’s will for me is to be saved by the atoning sacrifice of his Son, not by figuring out the perfect plan for my day. God is pleased by the life Jesus lived. He is satisfied by the death Jesus died. This is where he wants my conscience to rest, in the one “who gave himself for my sins.”
Jesus frees me from the pressure of “getting it right” as I seek to follow the Lord during the day. He frees me for a life of “grace and peace.”
Grace releases sin, and peace makes the conscience quiet. Martin Luther
With a peaceful conscience I can now seek him to show me the works he’s placed before me, and walk in them, confident in the work of his Son on my behalf.
Now that’s good news!