I’m not going to lie, when Mike lost his hours at work and we started realizing we couldn’t even pay all of our bills, much less pay for all the fun little extras we take for granted, it was really, really scary. When we got on our budget, there was certainly a lot of optimism and excitement to get on track with our finances, but there was also a lot of fear. This was going to be sink or swim.
It’s been almost half a year since we started our crazy quest to get out of debt, and let me tell you, it has been crazy. There has always been amazing grace and perfect provision along the way, but there have also been a lot of wild curves and seemingly insurmountable hurdles, some of which we still have to face daily. Like, having $7,500 in debt and making only $22,000 a year. That just doesn’t get easier.
Along the way, though, I’ve noticed something insidious growing inside of me: I’ve become so used to holding on for dear life, I have a hard time letting go and moving forward. Living in a constant state of panic will do that to you.
It will also start making you paranoid.
Paranoid that God is out to get you. That there must be something you are doing wrong, but no matter how hard you wrack your brain you come up with nothing. It makes no sense. Why would He make life so stinking hard?
God Is a Jerk
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” That’s what Jesus said, documented in Matthew 11:28.
Well who the heck wants to come to a God who is a big jerk? He’s not making my life very easy to rest in. He’s not very nice. He’s not helping me fix all my problems. And I’m pretty sure He must have something against me because my life is kind of a mess right now.
I haven’t actually thought these words so blatently, but recently I realized that this is what my heart has been thinking oh so quietly.
I’m looking at the Israelites, living under the law, unable to attain perfection, and constantly being punished for their wandering hearts. Surely this is me: I know I have a wandering heart. My heart is written all over the Israelites’ grumbling, stumbling, and complaining. And we all know what kept happening to the Israelites: struck dead, pillaged, ravaged, decimated, scattered.
Bummer. No wonder my life is a mess too. I’m no better.
The New Covenant
Yet, there is something my heart has failed to grasp. Something that can give me hope and, believe it or not, rest. That is: I no longer live under the Law of the Old Covenant. I am not an Israelite, no matter how much I might look like one. Same broken flesh. Different operating system.
Jesus told his disciples, and all who will listen, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17).
When the Pharisees asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment, they did not expect what followed. They were hoping to trick Him into a corner, but He answered by basically telling them, “You have it all wrong. Because I am here, because of what I am about to do, the Law has no bearing anymore! What matters is that you are connected to me in love.”
He said, ” “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).
Do you know what that means? That means: it’s nice you learned the 10 Commandments in Sunday School, but all they are are relics of the Old Covenant. You are not responsible to keep these commands, along with all of the others laid out in the books of the Law- you know, stuff like ““Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk” (Exodus 23:19).
You are no longer an Israelite under the wrath of God. You are a New Creation whose only requirement is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
Freedom from Fear
Do you know what that speaks to my heart? That speaks that I no longer have to live in fear, for “fear has to do with punishment,” and I’m no longer under punishment. Jesus took all of that to the cross. He fulfilled the Law, so I don’t have to. He set it up so all of the burden and responsibility is upon Him, all I have to do is wake up every day and say, “Yes, I’ll follow you again.”
That means that when my life is out of control, it has nothing to do with God’s anger and wrath being poured out on me. Sure, it may be a consequence of my sin, but that is the beauty of my freedom: I have the choice to pursue what is good and right and will produce peace in my life, or I can pursue what is unholy and will produce chaos in my life.
It may also be, though, that it is the path to righteousness that is so painful and difficult.
But either way, I can run to the Lord who is My Rock, and He will give me rest as I learn to cast all of my burdens, including my sin and my anxiousness, upon Him. As I learn to trust Him, even in the midst of chaotic circumstances, my heart can be still and calm.
How About You
Is your heart living in fear or freedom? Chaos or peace? I do pray for freedom and peace for all who read my blog and endeavor to find financial freedom, inside and out!
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