We, disciples, recently completed our final class of the year which was a study of the Divine Embrace by Robert Webber. It was definitely a challenging book to read, not only because of the big words that the author used, but also because of the challenge he gives to Recover a Passionate Spiritual Life.
I think the main thing I took away from this book was an understanding that my spirituality is not based on what I do or don’t do but on God’s Story, what He has already done for me and all of creation.
Having grown up in a Christian home and made a decision to follow Christ at a very young age, for as long as I can remember I have known God’s Story. I knew that man had sinned and the only way to reconciliation with God was through trusting in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. But until going through this book I never really understood God’s story and how He invites me to enter into it.
One thing that stood out to me was the significance of Jesus being fully God and fully man. I’ve never realized before just how important it is that Jesus be fully human. This means that He experienced the same struggles and difficulties I do. In chapter 8 of the Divine Embrace, Robert Webber says: “As one of us, real flesh and blood, Jesus reversed the wound of Adam. Beginning in the womb of Mary, and continuing throughout his entire ministry, he struggled to surrender His will to the Father. And because He succeeded in surrendering His will to the Father’s will, in all things, he restored our will in his obedience. Even as Jesus struggled to surrender His will to the Father, so also, in our own spiritual life, Jesus is the model not only for victory but also for the struggle. Therefore we ‘fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith…’ as the writer of Hebrews encourages us, ‘so that you will not grow weary and lose heart’ (Heb. 12:2-3).
So, what will my response to God’s Story be? How will I live each day with my eyes fixed on Jesus?
For me, personally, living in light of God’s Story means being willing, as Jesus did, to surrender myself completely to the Father. In recognizing that my spirituality lies not in what I can do but in what Christ has already done, my desire is to no longer strive to do it on my own. As I have been asking the Lord to show me how to live out this life of surrender, He has been teaching me to simply rest in Him, trusting that He holds my life in His hands.
God has been teaching me that the surrendered life is a life of continual repentance. It means not allowing the enemy to fill my mind with guilt and self-pity when I fail, but confessing my sins as soon as I am aware of them. I am learning not to become overwhelmed by my shortcomings but rather, to ask the Lord for His mercy, pick myself up and move on.
God has been showing me that even when I fail and take my eyes off Him, He is still watching over me. He will never leave me but will patiently wait for me to cry out to Him and allow Him to once again take my hand. In knowing this I can have peace that nothing I do can take me away from the loving care of my Heavenly Father. He is so much bigger than I am and knows what lies ahead. As long as He is leading me and my focus is on Him, I know that whatever happens I am in His hands.