Ducks in a Row

How many of you feel like you have your ducks in a row?

Because I. really. don’t. Like, at all.

It’s really only this past year that this realization came to me, as ridiculous as that may sound. The Lord kept bringing trial after trial into my life, on many different fronts, and the only thing they had in common was that I was utterly overwhelmed and unable to handle them. If what I could handle was a 10, these trial felt like 30’s. And what made it even more frustrating is that I felt like I SHOULD have been able to handle it.

Here’s an entry from my journal, reflecting on the trials:

I can’t hardly make sense of the last 6 months or so, but I can see how before all these trials, I had been prideful and arrogant…I thought I had things “all together.” That was an ILLUSION. I was under the illusion I could handle a lot of things: college coursework, finances, work, Christian disciplines. I was doing the majority of them, most of the time, in my own strength. Really, it was inevitable that I would crash and burn…

In Deuteronomy 8:3-7, the Bible describes how the Lord allowed certain trials to humble and prove the Israelites in the wilderness: hunger, for example. But this passage also illustrates God’s care in the midst of and deliverance from trails.

“And He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that procedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.” (Deut 8:3)

There was a purpose in suffering, a lesson God wanted to teach. And yet, He also delivered the Israelites from hunger by providing manna. I’ll continue with my journal entry:

…In the same way, God has used these last 6 months to teach me and strip me of every self-confidence and self-reliance I’ve had, in order to give me confidence in Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11-13 became evident in my life: “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now, if any man build upon this foundation gold, and silver, and precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by the fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” My self-reliant work has been revealed by the fire…and I’ve been left with nothing by the option to put myself completely in the hands of Jesus, asking Him to help me rebuild using gold, silver, and precious stones.

About a month or two after this revelation, God revealed deep-seated sin in my life. I had NEVER seen my sinfulness to that degree. I had to humble myself and confess a lot, and when it was needed, I made things right. I repented sincerely.

Now, as I’ve been walking in repentance, I still see the sin that is so tangles and mars my heart. It’s ugly, and its still there. I am keenly aware of fears that are irrational and hard to shake. I gag on the temptation to control circumstances instead of trusting my Father. Attitudes that are so un-Christ-like, horrifying and despairing.

But. BUT THE GOSPEL. Jesus Christ, fully man and fully God, “assumed human flesh, lived a perfect life, was executed on a Roman cross, rose from the dead, and then ascended to heaven” (Because He Loves Me, p. 23-24, Elyse Fitzpatrick).

I’ve realized that the gospel isn’t just for coming to God through Christ, but that it’s the gospel that enables me to live a transformed, holy life. It’s because of Jesus! I’ve been reading a couple books by Elyse Fitzpatrick on this very concept. She says,

“True Christianity is not a program of self-improvement; it’s an acknowledgment that something more than self-improvement is needed.” (Because He Loves Me)

This to me was revolutionary! You mean, I’m not supposed to put myself together, get my own ducks in a row? Elyse Fitzpatrick says,

“Our utter inability to save ourselves or even to maintain our salvation once it’s been granted to us brings great glory to the Son: it exalts His power, His purity, His grace, and His mercy. He didn’t save people who had a case of the spiritual sniffles. No, He saved the wretched, leprous, lame, poor, captive, adulterous, murdering, vile scum of the earth (Luke 4:18-19). He saved the proud, moral, religious, and self-righteous too (once He demolished their self-trust so that they could see themselves for who they really were).” (Comforts from the Cross, page 68).

That is the best news. I CANNOT be good enough. But Jesus Christ came to seek and to save those who are lost, and I qualify. Scriptures like “He Who began a work in you will be faithful to complete it,” and Jesus being the “Author and Finisher” of my faith have much more depth and tenderness and meaning to me now.

I am not the same person I was in the Fall of 2009 because Jesus has freed me from the wages of sin, and I won’t be the same in years to come because He is cleansing me and transforming me into the best possible version of who He created me to be, for His glory. That, my friends, brings great comfort to my soul.

Here is a song that I have been listening to a lot lately that has encouraged me to see God’s grace with fresh, grateful eyes. It centers on the woman caught in adultery in John 8 and the grace that Jesus extended to her.

The Gospel matters every single day, and I’m learning to lean into the breast of my heavenly Father and accept the radical love He has for me. Will you do the same?

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