BY: John Driver
E-MAIL ADDRESS: firstname.lastname@example.org
BIBLE TEXT: Isaiah 30:15 NLT: “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.”
PERSONAL REFLECTION: The feedback from our 4 part video series, The Trek, has been absolutely overwhelming. Like we have, some of you are beginning to honestly face the reality that you are or have been “off-route” in terms of grace being the sole foundation of your journey of following Christ. Not unsaved. Not necessarily caught up in some terrible sin. But still missing something.
Just generally feeling lost.
The profound truth is that, in some way, when you “feel” lost, then you “are lost.” This doesn’t necessarily even mean you are not on the right path, just that you no longer trust that path. When you don’t trust the path, then you are more likely to stop walking. Look around in desperation. Sit on a rock and worry. Maybe even head off into the woods trying to make your own way.
For me, my ascent was less about finding the right path—grace was already covering me. My ascent was more about placing my full confidence not in my ability to walk the path, but rather in the grace that continually transforms me. For me, grace was a buzzword for salvation and forgiveness, rather than the very essence of the gospel of Christ that transforms all people… not just in a one-time conversion that sets us on a path where our works dictate the success of the rest of the journey. Grace continually transforms us… and our works never ever can.
Some of you have graciously reached out to us after our “off-route” story to encourage us that all we did in our past as pastors is not bad or forgotten… and this encouragement is so appreciated. But the crazy thing is this: we do not feel condemned to admit that we, like the vast majority of the American Church, did not always build our good works (and most of them were very good) intentionally, solidly, fully, and solely upon the transformative grace of Jesus Christ. So then, even our repentance over our past is not an indictment of “bad” works, but more so misplaced confidence in good ones.
This grace message is not really about feelings, even thought we use terms like “feeling lost.” It is more about what lies often hidden at the core of our innermost, almost instinctive beliefs about our Christianity. So yes, The Trek may not be a full-blown theological revelation to you… not yet, at least. Like you, we held these truths as our theology, but our theology and reality were not fully aligned.
PERSONAL APPLICATION: We cannot spiritually reveal this transformative truth to anyone. We cannot awaken grace in the hearts of people. We cannot cause what is dormant or dislocated to become awake or aligned. Heart transformation is the work of Christ, even in the hearts of those who already follow Him.
But we can be honest. We can tell you that though our works were good and we desired above all else that they would be pleasing to God and helpful to bring people to a saving knowledge of Him—and that we NEVER did them half-heartedly or without a genuine desire for Kingdom advancement—even so, these works, which we will continue to do, cannot sustain us.
They were never meant to.
So with every person who is leaving a church today. With every pastor, megachurch and microchurch alike, who is burning out under the weight of ministry. With every person who is so completely confident of what will fix their church, even though they usually cannot see the reality that if they themselves were completely aligned with grace, the evidences in their lives and the lives of people around them would be impossible to refute. With all of these, we feel God calling us not to work harder, but, as Isaiah reveals, to return and rest first in grace.
Though I technically believed otherwise, I lived as if grace leads us to good works that transform our lives. But the truth is, grace transforms our lives and leads us to good works. And if you reverse that seemingly minor, yet divinely established order, you will find yourself possibly on the right path, but not confident in the right thing… feeling lost.
Grace calls us not just free, but free indeed… in other words, what we say is true will actually be true in our own lives. Anger. Lust. Fear. Bitterness. Pride. Addiction. Self-righteousness… you can amend the list for yourself. Regardless, if I am fully and constantly resting in grace, He will not only forgive these, He will also continue to transform my very desires about these—something all my works could never do in a million years of just “trying harder” to “do better.”
As my buddy, John Carey, says, “There’s nothing amazing about that kind of grace.”
PRAYER: Father, I return to and rest in You alone today as the place where my full confidence lies. I know you have prepared good works for me, so I stop trying to prepare them for myself. It is your grace alone—shown through the invaluable blood of Your only Son, that not only saves me, but continues to transform my life. I put Your grace first. Amen.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
First and foremost, I am unapologetically a gracemonger. I am a recovering Pharissee. A husband to Laura, and daddy to Sadie, a dog owner to Brutus, a friend to the best church staff in the world, a Teaching Pastor to the people of Life, a writer of books to some incredible friends I don’t deserve to partner with, a menace to my HOA (see clause about overgrown lawns), a thorn in the side of arrogant Alabama fans everywhere (even though they actually have something to brag about… and you know who you are), an alumnus to the University of Tennessee, a grumpy recipient to junk mailers everywhere (both hard copy and digital), an enthusiastic driver to my 20-year old T-100 affectionately named Gracie, and an experienced operator to my 33cc weedeater.