Throwing Out the Check List


You are teaching me some very difficult lessons lately. You know that I am a firstborn who loves to follow the rules. I feel safe and secure inside a given boundary. You have been working on my heart which can stay aloof when I equate following the rules with obedience. Instead, you are wanting me to come to You with my brokenness and the realization that it is impossible to follow the rules perfectly.

Somehow, I have missed Your heart lately. I have approached my relationship to you like a checklist. I have thought that if I do this and this, then blessing will result. If I just devote more time to prayer. If I fast once a month. If I memorize more Scripture...maybe You will love me more? And then I have become hurt when my "obedience" has not produced the desired result I have been waiting for. Which brings me back to a deeper issue: Do I obey You out of my overwhelming gratitude and staggering brokenness which makes me realize I don't deserve any blessing at all or do I obey You to keep the letter of the law to get what I want? Have I equated Your love to me with not having to walk through anything unpleasant? Do I seek comfort above all else and believe that is Your blessing? Jesus never promised me that I would not have trouble. I am appalled and shocked at how quickly and easily I can assimilate to the world's view of blessing and feel like I am getting the short end of the stick when You don't do what I want You to. I am realizing that even a rule-keeper can be rebellious in the deep recesses of the heart. Maybe that was why Jesus rebuked the Pharisees - men who spent a lifetime studying the Scriptures, but remained lost and blind.

I certainly want to obey You. But I need to examine my disappointment when I do not receive what I was hoping for through my obedience. You tell me in Matthew 5:3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Another way of saying that is blessed am I when I come to You, not as a rule-keeper, but as a sinner saved by Your unmerited favor. My confessed weakness and vulnerability before Your throne allows You to take me into Your confidence - to show me if what I am pursuing if eternal or just grass that will be burned in the end. A rule-keeper can become proud in her ability to judge her own righteousness. You want me to continually remember that You alone are my righteousness. There is no good thing in me. And if and when You decide to use me, I should never compete for the glory that belongs to You alone.

I will never understand You completely in this life. I will never fathom Your sense of justice or how You can love so unconditionally. But I want to pursue Your heart and, in doing so, live the abundant life You have promised is mine. I want to experience the profound truth that it is completely about Your grace to me that I see blessing at all.

I want to be a Christ-follower more than a rule-keeper. This checklist spirituality has to go. There is no joy in this way I have been living. Pursuing a relationship with You is where my joy is found. Help me to do that with Your strength.