Allowing intrusion to seep through as I'm oft to do -- taking a phone call I shouldn't, saying yes when I should say no, taking on frivolous endeavors, allowing the trivial to creep in -- leads down a path going nowhere, designed for procrastination and avoidance, to be busy at all the wrong things and wrongly calling it passion. Truth is each serves my vanity, my self-will and my image. Well, I'm human. Excuses. Excuses. All excuses. Mimicked excuses.
There's a problem here, a trap into which I too easily fall, something I cannot pretend doesn't exist, a secret not really a secret we know about each other. The trap gets us all. It is simply this: that all those excuses feigning sincerity and humility, masquerading as reasons, are ones to which I would never admit as some fault I possess but would find very much a fault in you. You can fool some people most of the time.
But you can't fool God. He has his own means, the means of grace, bringing to our attention this idea our passion we believe to be his spirit is just another way of saying to God, "I can do this on my own."
Beyond the one moment where I accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, where grace awakened me to God's power and foreverness, where I quit telling God and started listening to him, grace had its hardest task ahead. Grace had to come again and again until what I knew about myself, those excuses, damned excuses, died in me. It only took failure, grace really, to learn I was not God or a god. And isn't this what self-will is? Writer Paul David Tripp calls it functional atheism. Nature's nature instructs us well. Always renewing, she orders birth to follow death. A tree dies. A seed falls giving way to life. And so our nature is designed to be in relation to our maker. My first death discovered him to be my Savior, but it took many deaths to make room for me to call him Lord.
Isn't this how God works? Sending grace time after time until our many deaths allow room in our hearts to respond to his spirit rather than our self-will. True for me, I reached a place where I followed the Holy Spirit and not my passion. God's grace is greater than what we know about each other, greater than our own pride. Paraphrasing English philosopher John Locke, if perfect obedience was the righteousness of the law of works, then the reward would be of debt, and not of grace. And here the Holy Spirit informs. If Christ is our Savior, he is also our Lord, and if grace must appear a thousand times for us to kneel at this altar, when we do, our works as a response to grace, born of the spirit, bear fruit in service to his will and not our own.
Deck Cheatham lives with his family in Dalton.