Asides

Progress is Overrated

It’s been awhile, like a long time to be exact.  I could use the excuse that I have a 1.5 year old daughter who rules our household and I never have time to do anything for myself.  But that would be a lie.  I wish I could say its because of my travel schedule and there isn’t enough time to sit and really digest what has been going on, but that just isn’t the truth either.

The truth of the matter is that last year I felt more distant in my relationship with God than I have in a long time.  It snuck up on me too and I didn’t even realize it.  With all the changes in my family things got moving so quickly and my intimacy with the Lord was shelved.  Here is the scary part, I didn’t feel like I even needed God because I was fine.  Things weren’t bad.  So if I was really honest, I just didn’t even notice it.

Then I did.  It hit me like a rock when I looked up from the smoke and realized it.  So naturally I decided that something had to change.  I was going to focus, get disciplined, and start taking things seriously with the Lord.  I needed to progress in my relationship with Jesus.  I was distant and if I could just get BACK to where I was with him; I would feel more assured that I’m intimate with Jesus.  I needed to close the gap on my distance between me and God

Back to where I was?  More assued?  Close the gap on the distance from God?

Where did this mindset come from?  Where did this theology come from?  I needed to be washed clean.  I needed a Gospel rich bath to clean off the dirt of “MEology” that was burying me.

I needed to rediscover the Gospel for my weary, drowning, identity distorted soul.  I was desperate for living water, but kept quenching my thirst with more salt.

I was running hard after trying to accomplish a lie.  And I kept failing at it.  Finally I had enough and the Spirit does what He promises; convicts and guides me into righteousness.

If you go back and read my first paragraph I said, “I felt more distant in my relationship with God.” This is why theology is so important!  Our theology directly reflects our identity and what we believe about the content of the Gospel shapes how we feel towards God and how we think God perceives us.  Is it possible for me a believer who has heart has been regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit, to positionally be distant from God? I think this is where Paul yells, “By no means!”  Romans 8:39 says otherwise: “nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”.  Nothing.  NOTHING.  NOTHING!

But wait, can’t our sin effect our intimacy with Jesus? Yes. But my sin, my apathy never once has ever affected my distance of nearness to how God perceives me.  I am still His son.  I am still His.  So why do I feel like God is distant from me? Is it because I’m not doing X,Y,Z? “By NO MEANS!”  I feel like God is distant because I have chosen to not believe.  My distance was not a problem between me and God, my problem was between me and my belief.  My feeling of distance was not an action issue, it was a GOSPEL ISSUE.  I had forgotten the simple truth of Christ’s already full purchase of my righteousness and standard with God.  That instantly birthed worship, gratitude, and humility!

And then there was, “if I could just get back to where I was”.  Who is this guy? Why was I believing these lies.  It’s crazy how quickly I went from believing a small lie to running hard after something that provided no peace.  Once again though, to get back to where I was was implying that I was spiritually better than I was today.  Some of you might think that it’s okay and actually right to think that we can grow spiritually, and I agree.  But we must be careful with that, because all of our flesh want to claim that and wear it like a badge of honor.  We don’t even notice it and it can start with good intention to desire intimacy with God and months later we look back and its more about the GROWING than it is God.

Don’t take my word for it, look at Paul.  I could argue that the older Paul got the more he thought he wasn’t growing.  The older he got the more he recognized his NEED for Jesus as well as his want.  Early in Paul’s ministry he wrote to the Corinthians and said, “I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle.”  Toward the middle of his ministry he wrote in Ephesians 3:8, “I am the least of all the saints.”  Paul as he got older is getting worse? Weird…. Then at the end of his ministry, while in prison for a second time Paul tells his young student Timothy, “I am the foremost of sinners.”  Paul went from the worst apostle (12) to the worst of Christians (a couple thousand at that time), to the worst of all sinners(I think that means everyone!)

So was Paul getting worse?  I think Paul was less concerned of his progress and more concerned in Christ exaltation.  When that becomes all we consume and rejoice in, we become absurdly weak, AND THAT’S OKAY!  There’s so much freedom to know that I am still just as much in need of Christ’s atonement today.  Because I know that I’m still covered!

More assured?  Close the GAP?  I think you see where I’m going here.  Scripture beats this concept

 

 

Progress is overrated

I coached swimming all through high school and two years in college.  I loved it.  I always oversaw the 4-8 year olds.  And in California these practices aren’t just “make sure they don’t die” type of practices, but these kids can MOVE!  

In college, I started coaching for a new team.  And there were these twin girls that won me over really fast!  They would always somehow find a way to get put in my lane for the day.  And good night were they cute!  And they knew it!  And they knew I knew it!  So, needless to say they did whatever they wanted.  

Here’s what I loved about those two, still to this day they remember things that I did for them during the summer.  Still to this day, they remember exact words and things that I said to them before races, or while babysitting them.  These girls are like sponges!  I know this because this family is so great and still calls me from time to time.  I’ll get text messages from their mother with pictures of the girls on Christmas, their birthday, and big swim meets!  I have not been their coach for years now…but they still remember me, care about me, and honestly love me.  I am the most undeserving of that – but man, will I take it!

Fast forward, and a week ago Emmy Jo and I hear three beautiful words from our doctor… IT’S A GIRL.

If I was honest, I wanted a girl.  I wanted a girl REAL BAD!  Why?  I don’t know, it just was what my heart desired.  But as I am preparing for the daunting task ahead of me of being a dad to my sweet girl that I get to meet in four months, the weight of her life looms from time to time.  What is to come of her life?

If I’m being transparent, I am scared.  At times terrified.  And yes, because I’m a first time parent, but more because of the reality of where the world is now.  Whether you call yourself a Christian or not, no one can deny that there is something WRONG HERE.  There is so much division, hate, utter disregard for other people, and just evil now.  And yes its always been here.  But now, it is right in our faces!

I’ve noticed that my heart has gotten so sensitive over the past six months.  I truly believe it’s the Holy Spirit shaping me for my daughter.  But, my heart breaks for the reality of what women see, feel, and are impressed on by the world today.  I hate that for my daughter!  I hate that for my wife!  I hate that for all the girls that are involved in K-Life!  

My personality and bent is always “fix it”.  So immediately, my first thoughts go to how Emmy Jo and I will make SURE that our daughter will be protected from these things.  And if I think long enough about it, I get to this point where I’ve convinced myself that because of Emmy Jo’s gifting, and my gifting – we are going to beat the system.  Our daughter will not only be fine, but thrive!  And wow, what a scary place I found myself in this past week.

I never want to be at a place where I think that I, Garrett, have overcome the world.  What arrogance!  My best and worst quality is my confidence – and it got the worst of me this week.  And now I’m at a place in life where my sin affects TWO people now(wife and daughter).  

it’s funny how one word can completely not only change a sentence, but change a heart.  Change a heart, change a life – right?  

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

There is so much in those two sentences for me:

1.  “In this world you will have trouble”

This is promised throughout Scripture.  I don’t why I can so quickly get away from this.  Probably because I spend too much time on my own plans for my family life, and not enough time in God’s plan for my life in the Word.  But I can’t control, hide, shelter, and avoid the fact that myself, Emmy Jo, and our daughter are going to have trouble on this side of Heaven.  It’s a truth.  And I don’t like that.  I don’t want to believe it – but its so true. This truth can drive me to endless sleepless nights.  But, Jesus told me how to counter this truth…

2. “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.”

Peace.  What that heck!  I don’t meditate!  I hate quiet! How can me knowing that this world will bring me, my wife, and my child trouble bring me ANY SORT OF PEACE?  Therein lies the problem – I’m looking for peace in my situation, and in the world.  My peace, and ultimately my family’s peace is being sought after in the concept of “not having trouble”  Because, if we don’t have trouble, that will equate to happiness, joy, and ultimately comfort, right?  Jesus so brilliantly combated my thoughts with his sentences here and followed up peace with two powerful words: 

in me…

Scripture so eloquently states that IN CHRIST

I am faithful (Ephesians 1:1)

I am God’s child (John 1:12)

I have been justified (Romans 5:1)

I am Christ’s friend (John 15:15)

I belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:20)

I am a member of Christ’s Body (1 Corinthians 12:27)

The future peace of the Perkins family has so much less to do with me, Emmy Jo, and our daughter, and more to do with our belief, trust, and submitting to Jesus.  These promises are throughout Scripture.  These truths bring me peace!  They bring me joy!  I want these things for my daughter!  I love that these things have been promised to my wife!  There is a promise of struggle in this verse, but Jesus greater promise and ultimately remedy is always found IN HIM.

3. “Take heart! I have overcome the world.”

And this is the best news of it all!  My wife and I will not and cannot overcome the world.  There is too much ugliness, and evil here for us to just avoid all together.  We will fall and fall hard at times.  But Jesus tells us, instructs us, and probably commands us to TAKE HEART!  We are good, it’s going to be okay!  Why can I say that?  Because Jesus has overcome the world through the bloody means of the cross.  My wife and I know that.  We believe that – this is where our peace comes from.  It isn’t because I’m good, no but it’s because I’m bad and Jesus is PERFECT.  We cannot control our daughter life.  What we can do is this, proclaim like crazy that black and white truth to her from day one:

This world will not bring her joy, but only brokenness.  But Christ has offered a way to joy that surpasses everything this world has to offer – and it’s Him, and He’s worth it!  

I’m learning…I hate that I don’t have control of my daughters’ future.  But I love that I know who does!  That brings me peace.  Because if it were up to me, she’d run for the hills.  

Hadley Jo – you are and will always be loved by me, that’s a promise.  Here’s another promise: You are already more loved by Jesus!  

It’s a girl