When we started our adoption process, I felt for the first time in a long time – maybe ever – like I was doing what I was made to do. And I think when the Lord blesses you that way, it creates in you more affection for Him. I think that’s what started the snowball effect. About this time two years ago I remember feeling spiritually malnourished. I was attending church every week and reading my Bible every day, but it just felt like it wasn’t enough – like I needed more. I’d been thinking that I needed to download some Matt Chandler sermons to listen to in the car, so one Saturday morning while I was praying about feeling spiritually malnourished, the Holy Spirit gently reminded me of what I’d been wanting to do, that I had plenty of time to do it then, so why didn’t I just get up, walk across the room and make a CD for the car. Thankfully I obeyed because listening to those sermons changed my life.
Here are some things Matt said that totally rocked my world:
- The Lord wants my heart, not my begrudging submission.
- All of my righteous acts are like filthy rags (literally: menstrual cloths (Isaiah 64:6)).
- I am saved by grace alone. NOTHING I can do on my own will reconcile me to God (see #2).
OK. Can we just take a break from the story here and talk about this. The big question I’m still wrestling with two years later is:
Why was this NEW to me?
I would have been so insulted had anyone ever questioned whether or not I knew this. OF COURSE I did! I was always in church, paying attention, even taking NOTES! I have an undergraduate degree in Christian Studies and a Master’s degree in Christian Education, for crying out loud! But seriously people, until I started listening to Matt Chandler, I never really got it. Part of me feels like I should be ashamed of that, but I’m just so thankful Jesus grabbed my heart when He did, that I just feel like the past is the past. Nevertheless, it’s a troubling question for me because I suspect I’m not alone. I’m not trying to solve the problem, or play the blame game here. My goal in bringing this up is to create a space where I can be honest, and you can be honest.
One of the things Matt talks about a lot is having a genuine affection for Jesus. I remember the first time I heard him talk about that. I was lying to myself, but I didn’t know it. And I certainly wasn’t doing it intentionally. I wasn’t trying to run from Jesus. I just didn’t know Him, have a relationship with Him, or have any affection for Him. So when Matt asked, “What are the things that stir your affections toward Jesus?” I didn’t know. And it wasn’t until later that I realized that I didn’t know what stirred my affections for Jesus, because I didn’t love Jesus to begin with.
I should also clarify that none of this happened over night. I wasn’t immediately convicted about my lack of affection for Jesus, but after listening to multiple sermons every day for a few months (y’all, I’m so slow), so many things started to make sense. And I began to see that the life I was living didn’t match with what I said I believed. I think the biggest area was grace. I thought I believed I was saved by grace alone, but practically I was living like Jesus was my supplemental insurance: I did my part in earning God’s favor, and then Jesus got me the rest of the way there. Two years later, I’m still realizing how legalism has been the foundation of every area of my life. And while I am definitely recovering from legalism, it’s still an ongoing process. I could talk a whole lot more about legalism, but that’s another post for another day, and there’s still more to this story.
But for now, what about you? Do you have a genuine affection for Jesus? If so, when and how did it develop? If you’re not sure, I’m praying for you and would love to talk about it with you some time.