I didn’t find it all that striking the first time I heard it. It took time to simmer. Like all truths, they tend to seem simple, but life often makes the truth seem muddled or more complicated than it really should be. “Spiritual drifting away begins by neglecting the great salvation that securely unites us with Christ.” Kris said towards the end of her BSF lecture.
For years after returning back to the States from my time overseas, I was unwilling to admit need. It was ironic, since I often admitted needing help when I lived in a foreign country. If I didn’t I wouldn’t have left my apartment or been able to eat. But when I came back here and re-connected with old friends, the first thing that I couldn’t help but notice was how my friends had moved on with their lives without me. They seemed so accomplished, so put together and independent. Gone were the days when we shared our deepest secrets our vulnerabilities, our tendencies so that we could lift each other up in heartfelt prayer. We had grown distant while I was away. This distance, this veneer of self-sufficiency was enough to prompt me to believe that I, too, needed to do the same despite feeling otherwise. This need to put on my best front continued, as I became a mother, in full force. It’s part of the reason why I initially joined BSF and MOPs, to find someone somewhere who felt as flawed as I did. But even in these places, I didn’t see it. I could say it should be different, I expected it to be different, but these places are made up of flawed people just like me. No one wants to go first. No one wants to seem like the weak one, the crazy counter-cultural one. Like everyone I, too, wore pride like a badge of courage. I kept quiet so as to appear strong, wearing what little pride I felt I had like a comfy, cozy well-worn sweater so that everyone wouldn’t know I was exposed underneath. It seems too strange to be vulnerable with people who you only see a few hours a week or a few hours a month, the risk too high a cost. The only problem with this is that it’s not how to draw closer to Jesus nor to each other.
I don’t remember when I first heard this, but it seems fitting to be reminded of this picture of God from Philip Yancey’s Grace Notes (pg.374).
As one lecturer in spirituality explains it, ‘God in heaven holds each person by a string. When you sin, you cut the string. Then God ties it up again, making a knot-and thereby bringing you a little closer to him. Agin and again your sins cut the string-and with each further knot God keeps drawing you closer and closer.’
I spiritually drifted away when I neglected my need for Jesus and instead attended to my pride. It had been awhile since I felt connected to my Father in heaven. By not spending time with Him, I fooled myself into believing that what He wanted was my adherence to the rules. Since I saw in how many ways, I failed in doing so I kept postponing my times with Him telling myself He’s always there, I can repent later. Because I did this, I suffered. Yancey also discusses this kind of legalism (pg. 373),
It teases, promising some of the benefits of faith but unable to deliver what matters most. As Paul wrote to the legalists of his day, ‘For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.’
Jesus didn’t want my obedience in this way. He just wanted me. Obedience would come later, as an expression of love for Him. Today I’m thankful for this journey He’s taken me on. It is sometimes painful, but well worthwhile. At the heart of my thankfulness, is cherishing that Jesus died on the cross to save me from my sins, to save me from a life without him. This is what matters most.
How is pride hurting you? How is God bringing you closer to Him?