I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. -Psalm 119:11
By Laura Hardin (WITHIN Devotional Contributor)
The Lord wouldn’t call himself a shepherd to us if we didn’t need one.
Some days I wake up full of faith and eager to follow Jesus. Other days I wake up forgetful and reluctant to sacrifice my preferences for the glory of God and the good of the people around me. I am often a walking paradox. I love Jesus. I love myself. I want to follow Jesus. I want to be my own god.
If we’re honest, we all live in the tension of being new creations who must regularly put our old selves to death (Colossians 3:5-10). We live to worship and enjoy the triune God but the temptation to live for self often overwhelms and gets us off track.
On our good days, we’re like Peter in Matthew 26:33-35, declaring we will never fall away. We’re like the Israelites in Exodus 19:8, saying that we will do all that God commands. But Peter denied that he knew Jesus three times and wept in shame afterwards. And when God took too long to give them his law, the Israelites fashioned another god to worship instead.
Robert Robinson put it well in his hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” when he writes,
“Prone to wander Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart Lord
Take and seal it
Seal it for thy courts above.”
We are not as good as we think we are. There is a part of us that races to do things our own way at first opportunity. It’s called our sin nature. And we will struggle against it until we die or Jesus returns. Since the war against our flesh isn’t going anywhere, we have need of patience with ourselves and with God’s process of making us like himself.
Someone recently asked me, how can I stay in this place of clarity, hope, and faithfulness? Whether it’s a good day and we’re tempted to pride or a frustrating day and we’re tempted to despair, the answer is the same--stay close to the shepherd. He restored Peter before ascending to heaven. He showed compassion and mercy to Israel by renewing his covenant with them. He restores us too as we remember our dependency on his grace, confess our sin, and prayerfully move forward in obedience.
When we’re frustrated by our spiritual inconsistencies, God is not. He knows our frame. He knows how sin works. He knows that apart from him we cannot do anything that glorifies him. He never loses sight of how much we need him. He already gave us Jesus and he knows that even on a bad day, we’re okay. When the glittery shine of sin entices us, he takes his staff and pulls us close like the good shepherd that he is. He will not lose his own or let them fall prey to a ruthless predator.
He sees us when we wander and he goes after us. Every. Single. Time.
Though we change on God often, he never changes on us. Our love threatens to grow cold. His love remains hot and relentless.
Sister, it’s his faithfulness to us on those days we feel most undeserving of his love that settles how real his love is for us. It’s settled. Secured in Christ. We can enjoy the love and care of our Good Shepherd right now no matter how our days are going.
The weekly devotionals seek to encourage you to dig deeper into Scripture as you take the time to daily read, meditate, and internalize the verses in the devotional, along with the passages provided below to give greater context. Take the time to read them throughout the week (repetition is important) and ask the Holy Spirit to help you grasp what God is showing you about Himself, about you, and how to live in light of these truths.
Passages to read/memorize/meditate:
1 John 2:1-6
Questions to Reflect on:
1. How do you relate with God on a bad day?
2. How do you define a good day with Jesus?
3. Name three things that are true of you and God no matter how you feel in this moment.
4. Your friend confides in you that she does not feel like a good Christian. How would you encourage her?