In the church I lead, I’ve been teaching from II Corinthians 3 and 4 these past weeks, and have been struck once again by the active verbs of 3:16,18 – which are “turn” and “behold.” The promise that our transformation comes from our ongoing growth in intimacy with Christ. We turn to Christ; He transforms us. The simplicity and assurance of this path is, for me, perhaps the most encouraging truth in the New Testament because I’m liberated from having to custom-build my own life. My responsibilities reside in learning how to develop intimacy with Christ. His job is to change me; His promise is that He will.
But what does “turning and beholding” look like? I call it “coffee with God,” and though there are many ways to do this, and many devotional books that will help you, I though I’d give you an example, using the Verse of the Day (available as a link on the sidebar of this blog).
1. After making my coffee, I sit an open the link, which leads me, today, to this verse:
“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” – Romans 3:20 I read it aloud once, twice. I read it in a different version, by clicking on the links below the verse, and the NLT says something that sticks with me: “The more we know God’s law, the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying it.”
I’m reminded the the perfect display of keeping God’s law is found in the person of Christ.
I’m reminded that, to the extent that I know I fall short, I turn to Christ, asking Him to fill me and change me. But if I’m blind to my shortcomings, thinking myself to be on some sort of moral high ground, I’m not becoming more like Jesus–I’m becoming more like the religious people Jesus continually railed against. All this reminds me that it’s OK to be mindful that I’m on a journey, mindful that I have shortcomings, mindful that transformation is a process. I needn’t condemn myself for falling short, because in Christ, God doesn’t condemn me. I also needn’t lower the bar, allowing blind spots to remain because I’ve changed the terms of God’s law to conveniently make the prevailing moral code of my lifestyle the same thing as “God’s law.” This too is religion at it’s worst.
2. After this meditation, I write in my prayer journal:
Good morning God,
I offer the day to you today, grateful that you will be revealing your truth to me through others, through creation, and through your word. Give me eyes to see, ears to hear, a teachable heart–so that I might see those particular areas where I especially need your transforming power. Thank you I needn’t hide from my shortcomings because you don’t reveal them to condemn me, but rather to show me my need of you, and your commitment to my ongoing transformation. As I see my flaws, give me the grace to turn to you–avoiding both denial and shame, looking instead to your forgiving and transforming power.
I pray for my times of teaching today–asking for both strength and the capacity to be truly present with students as conversation occur. I pray for the staff back home in Seattle as they prepare so hard for Easter… thanks for each of them, and may you watch over their life together. Prayers also, today for my children –K,N,H–you know their needs, as I commit them to you and pray for your ongoing revelation and guidance in their lives. Thanks so much for each one.
I’m mindful as well, that we live in insane times, and pray that you’d enable me to live in the midst of the political turmoil, and the economic and global insanity, firmly rooted, and therefore strong, in you.
Thanks for supper last night w/ W&P–such a blessing to enjoy fellowship and hear of their amazing plans. BNE their provision and guide as they move into the future.
The day is yours–give me joy in it. Amen.
Questions? Is this helpful?