The contrast couldn’t be more stark – the respectable, religious leader and the dishonored sinful woman. The woman’s presence at the Pharisee’s home is scandalous enough; her lavish display of gratitude and love was “over the edge”. But in Jesus’ eyes it was worthy of note. As Simon’s heart was revealed by the words of our Lord, he is chastised for loving little. The woman’s actions displayed her understanding of just how much she needed forgiveness.
As I was reading yesterday, a realization dawned on me, and an answer to a long standing question became crystal clear. For literally years now I have been asking the Lord to help me find my joy again. I love the Lord, but my love had grown stale. Passion was replaced with routine. And while I know we can’t be riding high at every moment in our walk with the Lord, it had seemed so long since I had felt that warmth of soul that characterized my life not so long ago.
I felt like my joy had died.
The death of my joy began when being good became my duty versus being faithful being my delight. The resurrection of joy begins in rediscovering the absolutely audacious love of my God, whose love depends not on my “goodness” but His.
I grew up being “good”. Mostly because I had parents that wouldn’t let me do much of anything else! I am grateful for their discipline and care. Their care and discipline shielded me from so many pitfalls that could have easily found me. Being raised in the church provided a foundation upon which I could build an understanding of how to live.
But that understanding didn’t guarantee that a sincere love for the Savior would naturally follow. The formalities of religious upbringing were meaningless to me because my heart was not captivated by the depth of God’s love – and this through no fault whatsoever on the part of my parents. My hardness of heart sealed that fate, making my drift was inevitable – predictable even. God’s grace that lifted me and led me back was the surprise.
Even after returning to the church and truly giving my life to Christ at the age of 26, it has been so easy for me to drift – to wander away from the only One in which safety dwells. I can drift into reliance on my “good Christian behavior” instead of Christ for my righteousness. In those moments, my love cools. I forget that I need His grace in every moment of every day. Moments of clarity like yesterday are gifts from my gracious Father, sweetly, gently nudging me back where I belong.
O, to be aware more and more each day what it means to say I need His grace, His mercy, His love continually. Not just one time. But all the time.
More later…grace and peace…