Happy New Year! I thought I would share the biggest revelation I feel I’ve gained in the last year. In 2022 I learned that most of my false expectations about myself and God are wrapped up in my misunderstanding of Him and His ways. For example, I knew His Spirit lived inside me; thus, I thought His Spirit should rule and subdue the junk I struggled with. Restated, I have been waiting for Holy Spirit to whip my mind and flesh into a more pious state where I constantly think about Jesus and don’t crave junk food or social media. And when those parts of me remained unchanged, I doubted both Jesus and me.

But here’s what I have learned, Jesus did not rule men like that when He walked the earth, and He’s a never-changing God, so He’s not leading us like that now. Moreover, Matthew 11 says He called Himself “gentle and lowly” and said He would give us rest for our weary souls.

Gentle and lowly, do not go with the tyrannical subjugation I have craved from Him. Alas, I am still craving that darned Holy Spirit zapping! One quick Shazam and I could be Suzy Super Christian with no discernable foibles to work on. I have prayed long and hard into the night for a shazam, only to wake up the following day the same Cris with the same issues.

I keep waking us as the same Cris with the same issues because I am yoked with a Savior who is always the same Jesus with His same “issues.” He is, and forever will be, gentle and lowly. He proved that when He walked around with His messy disciples. He never tried to force change on them or control them. True love doesn’t have a change agenda because true love is unconditional. We, humans, cannot wrap our minds around that.

But here is the secret, Jesus doesn’t have to try to change us because His work was perfect. What He did on the cross was the ultimate Shazam for all humanity. The miracle is that I’m invited into a relationship with the Creator of the Universe and that Christ lives in me! The Shazam happened over 2000 years ago, and we were all a part of it. We’ve already been made brand new!

All this junk I feel is insurmountable, has already been taken care of. I don’t need a zapping; I need my mind renewed to what’s actually true about me. And that, my friends, is the process through which my gentle and lowly Savior walks me. It’s the same one He’s walking you through.

What if we made 2023 the year we become comfortable with the grace process? Thus, I will bless you with The Message’s version of Matthew 11:28-30: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

The clanging gong of religion has forever been what do we need to change about ourselves to be acceptable to God. The unforced rhythms of grace say we already are accepted by God. Truth is, we just have a problem accepting ourselves. Our gentle and lowly Savior has never had the concerns with us that we have had with ourselves. So, why do we expect Him to force us into some mold we feel would please Him more?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to accept Jesus as much as He accepts us? Let’s try it for the next year and see how it works out for us.




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