A few months ago I was at the Imago Dei Eastside Gathering. It was a hot Sunday evening in the little chapel that has no air conditioning, just windows opened and fans going. The lights were off to keep it cool. We sang the song “Before the Throne of God Above,” and as I stood there reading the lyrics, unable to sing, tears fell out of my eyes.
Let me be real. There are sins in my life that I struggle with so consistently and so deeply that my life feels like it’s one giant spiral of repeating the same sin, hearing the same deceptions, believing the same lies, and praying the same words out of guilt. I am full of bitterness and cynicism, judgment and eye rolls. and some days that is made so much more aware to me than others.
and on those days, Satan camps out in my guilt.
A month or so ago, I had one of those mornings. and I was driving to work, and as I turned onto the street by my church I thought “I’m so full of sin and yet I’m someone’s YOUTH PASTOR!? I should quit my job and let them find someone who screws up less.” and I really started to beat myself up over it. But then I remembered the words of a Mercy Me song that say “There’ll be days I lose the battle, grace says that it doesn’t matter, cuz the cross already won the war.” (Greater – MercyMe)
and I started crying my eyes out because that was the truth I needed to be reminded of. Deep in my spirit I heard the Holy Spirit say “Stephanie. Repent and move on.”
But repent. Not just “ask for forgiveness.” Repent; the whole turning away from sin and walking the other way.
There are nights when I lay in bed and I cry and thank God for protecting me from the certain sins that really wage war on my heart. I am so grateful to have survived a day without any battles.
and then other nights.
Other nights I lay in bed and cry and apologize for all of my careless words and my bitter heart. I hang the head of my heart in shame that my actions often terribly misrepresent how I feel about the Lord in my heart.
But Jesus stood in the gap. For me. For my sins.
He took the receipt straight up to the counter and he paid for the meal he never tasted. It’s covered. Taken care of. Put the wallet away, because your money is no good here.
Pastor Matt once said that God is just as if he has no mercy and he is merciful as if he has no justice because you cannot have one without the other. It took me a very long time to understand that, but once I did… it changed so much.
and because of that, “for God the just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me,” is one of the most powerful phrases I have in my arsenal to combat the lies of Satan, the enemy, who loves to kick me when I am down.
BUT THE CROSS.
MY sinless Savior.
Do not let your burdened, exhausted, weary heart forget the redemptive power of Christ’s life sacrificed on the cross. Soak up that liberation, and live like you have been saved. You’ll struggle, you’ll fall, you’ll be disappointed in yourself, you may even disappoint others.. but don’t EVER forget that you. are. free.