As I said earlier this week, I've been discouraged with my self-counseling project for my class. But God met me through this week's lecture and through His Word. I was moved to express confidence in Christ in the midst of my failure, to declare my commitment to press on in faith--so inspired, in fact, that on Wednesday night I cranked out a three-part series about it.
And then I failed. Miserably. Today has been a hard day—and I have struggled to deal well with the failure, to repent and press on. How can I keep asking forgiveness for the same thing over and over and over? Doesn’t it indicate that my repentance isn’t real, if I just keep turning back?
I finally sat down to write the paper that's due tomorrow, and I reread words from Sinclair Ferguson’s book Children of the Living God (this week's homework assignment, and the focus of the paper):
“Many Christians go through much of their life with the prodigal’s suspicion. Their concentration is upon their sin and failure; all their thoughts are introspective. That is why (in the Greek text) John’s statement about the Father’s love [in 1 John 3:1] begins with a word calling us to lift up our eyes from ourselves and take a long look at what God has done: Behold!—look and see—the love the Father has lavished upon us!”This quote reminds me of another I’ve heard countless times: “For every one look at your sin, take ten looks at Christ.” The principle is simple, but in my morbid introspection, I turn it on its head, drowning in sin and occasionally throwing a desperate glance toward Jesus. Ferguson’s exposition of 1 John 3:1, which I’d never heard before (the NIV really obscures it), urges me to reorient myself.
Do I believe what I said about persevering when the process is slow? Do I think that my failure negates my identity?
How many times just today have I told Elijah that the beans must stay IN the bean table? Yet at no point, however frustrated I am at finding dry beans on the windowsill...in the couch cushions...on every dining room chair...does he cease to be my son.
Somehow, in my discouragement, I must lift up my eyes from myself and take a long look at what God has done. After all, my hope is not in my performance; the cross is my only hope.
"SEE what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are!" (1 John 3:1)