October 2018   
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Heart Thoughts The Secret 1/7/12

Maxie Dunnam, in his book, Alive In Christ, tells the story of a young woman he’d been counseling.  Her life was filled with religious activity.  She gave a great deal of money to the ministry, was a participant in many worthy works.  In short, she lived a truly sacrificial life, yet, in her times with Dunnam, she always appeared, “anxious, nervous…uncertain.”  Despite all the activity, the dedication, the giving, she had no joy, no peace.  No sign of abundant life.  Dunnam says what emerged was a person who had, “Always the elements ofdoing something, trying harder, giving more, were a part of her stance.  Her feelings of needing to prove, to earn respect, to do good in order to be good emerged at every turn; very much like Saul before the Damascus Road.”It would be easy here to just dismiss her as someone who didn’t understand grace, and was locked into a works based salvation, and say the lady needed to “get saved.”  We would be right, and we would be wrong, because I think, if we will be honest in the very heart of our souls, we are held just as captive as she by these thoughts and actions.
     With the coming of the new year, I have seen and heard so many statements that say, in effect, “This year I’m going to try harder, work harder, witness more, give more, do more.”  These are all noble intentions, and certainly, grace makes no room for lazy, slothful believers in the Kingdom of God.  Grace is free, but it isn’t cheap.  Still, the subtle slavery of feeling we always have to prove ourselves, by doing more, trying harder, is constantly before us.  We say we are saved by grace, but we seem determined to live by and in our own strength.  We “know” the Father accepts us by grace alone, but to keep in good standing, somehow, grace is not enough, and to keep that good standing, we feel we must always achieve more, do more, give more, be more.  I have lived in such a place, and for a very long time.  I’ve got the prison clothes to show for it.  So do you.
Yet He’s created us and called us to something more.  Something much more.  Back to Dunnam’s story of the young woman.
    One day she came into his office, and her countenance was transformed.  Her eyes sparkled, and her face expressed great joy.  She inhabited the same body, but she was no longer the same person.  She shared with Dunnam of her own “Damascus Road” encounter.  She shared how her life had been built around always trying to do good so the Father would accept her.  Always feeling as she were not holy or righteous enough.  Exhausting herself in humanitarian works so that when she prayed, she would feel her prayers were being received.  Trying to make everythng “right in her life in order to sense some sort of worthiness.”  Then, on her own road, she discovered the secret.  A secret He doesn’t keep from us, but that somehow, we find ways of keeping from ourselves.  Colossians 1:27 reads, “For this is the secret; Christ lives in you, and this is your assurance that you will share in His glory.”  Christ lived in her.  She knew this, but lived as if she didn’t.  All her own efforts, her trying and doing, kept the wonder, power, and sharing in His glory, secret from her.  As she said, “I was trying to pry open the window to get in the house, when all the time the door was open, and I had only to walk in.”  As writer and pastor Jim Hylton has said, “We spend all our time trying to get something we already have, and trying to be someone we already are.”  This is life in a prison, and though we long to get out, and keep seeking to find the way, the secret remains hidden.  It is only when we realize that the prison has no power to keep us, that Christ lives in us, that in Him, we’re alive in Christ, will the prison doors swing open, and the prison clothes fall off of us.  We’re no longer captive to the life of trying harder, doing more, seeking to be acceptable to Him, and everyone else as well.
    The prison cell is alwasy calling us back, seeking to dress us in it’s prison clothes, but the Father calls us to Himself, telling us we’re clothed with His salvation, clothed in Christ.  To know the secret, that we’re alive in Christ.  This year, may you and I travel more deeply into this secret.  May we know the truth the really sets us free.  Indeed, may our lives be filled with good works, but may these works flow not from a sense of having to prove ourselves, gain acceptance, earn approval, but out of His life that abounds within us, and flows out of of us.  May the secret be revealed to us.


Pastor O

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