31 March 2015

If the word seems dry . . .

God is so funny, and awesome, and aware of me. And so patient.

Yesterday, I began reading the book of Romans. Just however many chapters each morning as fit into my devotional time. As I read this morning, I fully admit I was distracted . . . by children, the rooster crowing outside, facebook (I know, I know), and more. I started the day by researching some historical context surrounding Jesus cleansing the temple, and then tried to get into Romans. I read chapter four, which seemed pretty dry. (Hint: when the Word seems dry to me, it means I'm soooo not filled with the Holy Spirit. It's not the scripture that's dry, it's me!) As I waited for the Romans five page to load, I was thinking along these lines:
I wonder why I'm even supposed to be doing this . . . this is really dry stuff . . . what does all this explanation about not needing circumcision have to do with me? . . . yeah, yeah, yeah, Paul, I know: I don't need circumcision to have access to God . . . should I really be slogging through this? . . . why am I reading this anyway . . . 
Then I started to read the first verse:
"Therefore, since we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith . . ."
And these thoughts flashed through my mind:
Man, I'm really not feeling close to God this morning . . . yeah, Paul, I know: more stuff about how faith is independent of circumcision. Got it . . . I'm doing something wrong . . . I shouldn't have done that other study first this morning . . . I'm not getting this whole "getting up early and spending time with God thing" right . . . why can't I get this right? . . . I'm just going to have to try again tomorrow morning . . . but I'm not looking forward to an entire day, isolated from Him like this . . .
But I read on, and these words shone into my mind like the dawn:
. . . let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). 
Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God's favor) in which we [firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God. ~Romans 5:1-2 AMP
And then I realized the last set of thoughts that went flashing through my head were temptations, the enemy trying to discourage me from getting into the Word, luring me into the old, still-too-familiar resigned acceptance of isolation from God, and that it was the goodness and mercy of God, coming like the dawn, that overcame those temptations because He loves me, and I was (blunderingly, so imperfectly) trying to do what He asked of me. And He planted verse two on my screen this morning, like a friendly elbow in the ribs, for me to read so I could, by faith, have access to Him.

Not because of my works.

Because of His love.

My study, up to that point, was pretty worthless. {facepalm} I surely wasn't getting anywhere by my own merits. I definitely needed a nudge, a reminder, that it's not my strength that reaps a harvest from the Word. It's His Spirit, poured out upon me in His good pleasure, if I will but be a vessel for it.

And I chuckled, because I felt God chuckling good-naturedly as He saw the realization come over me, and knew my thoughts and my heart. Knew how I would respond {facepalming}, knows that I far prefer to laugh over hard things than cry, and rejoices in who I am, who He made me to be, in everything about me. My quirks amuse Him as much as they do me, my flaws tie me to Him in beautiful symbiosis. He's just so good . . . He knows me so well . . . and He has planned out carefully everything that I truly need. And He speaks my love language fluently. ;o)

Lord, thank You for Your endless patience, Your endless love, Your persistent mercy, Your relentless grace, and for the numberless chances You offer me, as I walk in full acceptance of the price you paid and the reality of Who You Are. Thank You for Your friendship, Your company, and Your affability. So much. You amaze me, Jesus. And make me so happy! :o)