Growing up, I was a sticker on a chart sort of girl. Little rows of boxes filled with shiny stars marking perfect attendance, good behavior, and recited verses motivated me to continue.
When I entered motherhood, mental charts replaced physical ones:
Patience today? Sorry, no sticker!
Kindness? There were a couple moments...
Peace? If you count laying down in the middle of the chaos imagining myself at the beach, then I guess yes.
Time for husband?
Time for friends?
Time for other important things?
I had a spiritual chart too. Enough Bible study, prayer, serving? I was never quite sure. Every night I bemoaned the missing stickers on my chart, and I was sure God was disappointed too.
The problem was, I was trying to work my way to God instead of living from what Jesus had already done. Instead of living my life IN Him, I was trying to live my life to get TO Him. Those two ways of living are worlds apart.
As we read in Exodus, the Israelites frequently found themselves in the same predicament. They witnessed God part the Red Sea, then lead them as a shading cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. He provided manna for them to eat, and even made water pour out of a rock. God had been tender towards them, telling Moses to remind them in Exodus 19:4 that He had carried them on eagle’s wings and brought them to Himself. His purpose in delivering them was for them to be with Him. This always was and still is God’s heart. He has always wanted to do life with us, since the Garden of Eden.
In Exodus 20:1-17 God gives Moses the Ten Commandments. These laws were an invitation to live a different kind of life— a life of wholeness and holiness. A life in good relationship with both people and God… and isn’t that what we all truly want?
Two times the Israelites declare, with all the gusto of good intention, “We will do everything the Lord has said!” However, the people found themselves in a place of wanting to do the right thing, but continually failing. They constantly teetered between faithfulness and faithlessness, leading to more sin and frustration.
Their good intentions weren’t enough. (They never are!) The Israelites desperately needed something else— a Savior.
Jesus came to fulfill what we could not. Because of Jesus, we no longer just do the right things outwardly, but become the right kind of people. Perfection is no longer required because He is perfect.
In Hebrews 4:14-16, we are told Jesus is our great high priest who sympathizes with our every weakness. We are invited to come to His throne of grace where we will find kindness, forgiveness, hope and mercy. We don’t have to wait for the right time, the right place, the right person or the right ceremony. He is near us, beside us and walking with us no matter what our day looks like.
Living from what He’s already accomplished, we can come to Him readily, even on no-sticker days, knowing He loves us and always wants us close to Him.
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