I partied my way through high school, a rowdy, boisterous girl who loved to laugh with friends. And I imbibed in my share of weed and wine to help that happen. A religious conversion at 19 years old turned wild child me into a pin-straight, prim-and-proper young lady that my friends couldn’t even recognize. When two of my best friends from high school came to visit, they stared at me, confused, feeling the urge to say, “What have you done with Jennifer?”
I’ll admit I came across pretty austere and joyless. The truth was, underneath the severe exterior there brewed a fear of falling back into my old ways. I believed that while God had forgiven me for the past, He now left it up to me to straighten myself out. This belief may have been reinforced by childhood experience with a strict father who, although he placed high expectations on me, found cultivating a close relationship more difficult.
In reality, the same heavenly Father whose expectations loomed high before me, came alongside me to walk me through the process of reaching them. The impossibility of reaching those standards on my own served to keep me dependent upon Him. And He did not offer the goal of reaching those expectations as a means of obtaining righteousness, but He gave me His righteousness at the outset, as the means of reaching those expectations. Jesus’ free gift of His righteousness told me that He believed I could walk without falling.
When I first learned to walk, I knew two things: One, that mommy and daddy believed I could—otherwise, why were they wildly waving their arms and cheering on the other side of the room? Two, I knew that if I fell, they would graciously scoop me up in their arms, set me upright, and cheer me on as I tried again.
God loves you!
Imagine yourself as a child learning to walk. God stands on the other side of the room, cheering for you. You take a few steps, then stumble. He picks you up, sets you upright, and you try again. Now imagine yourself one day running straight into His arms.
Dear loving Father, we reject the stern, severe image of You that the enemy tries to put into our minds. And we reject the notion that you don’t care whether we walk or not. You want us to reach our potential! We embrace the image of You as a patient, loving Father teaching His children to walk. Fix this image in our minds, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.” Jude 24-25