Two weeks ago our pastor preached on Galatians 4:8-20, and I’m still meditating on some of the challenges that he posed to us. He closed his sermon with the story of the Spanish explorer Cortés, who reportedly ordered his soldiers to burn the ships once they arrived in Mexico so that they would not be tempted to return to the country that they came from. Our pastor challenged us to identify what old ways of life we return to time and again to comfort us instead of leaning on God’s grace.
This is a particularly tough issue for me because I have a checklist mentality. I love knowing the rules. And by knowing the rules, I can plan out what needs to be done and can put that on a list. Then, when I complete the task, I get to check it off and can see what I’ve accomplished at the end of the day.
But faith isn’t supposed to be treated like that. It’s not about being good, though out of my love for Christ I should desire to lead a good life. It’s not about praying a certain number of times a day, though I should desire to communicate with my Savior often. It’s not about giving a certain amount of money, though I should want to honor God by giving back a portion of what He has entrusted me with.
Instead, faith is about a relationship with Jesus Christ. And carrying on that relationship, like any relationship, can be difficult at times. There aren’t any particular guidelines to follow, so it may feel a bit awkward or aimless at times. It may be hard to know exactly what He’s saying to me. It may be difficult to discern whether He’s leading me in a certain direction.
And so, I may be tempted to run. Not necessarily away completely, but to run back to my old ways of doing things. And so I get out the checklists, make decisions on my own, and do what makes sense to me in an effort to live by the rules of society and, in essence, create my own yardstick for measuring my Kingdom productiveness, my “goodness,” or my spiritual walk.
It is this escape route that I need to burn. I need to cultivate a heart that doesn’t want to go back to doing things on my own but instead wants to allow God to pour out His grace all over me.
What’s your escape route? Are you willing to strike up your match, burn that route, and cling to grace? As author John Ortberg said, “The decision to grow always involves a choice between risk and comfort.” Are you ready to risk losing your escape route in order to grow? Let me know your thoughts on this.