As a pastor, it is always easier to give people advice than it is to receive advice – especially if that advice is not what I want to hear. Recently, I knew what advice needed to be given to me but I had some stubbornness in my heart to fully trust God, and I didn’t really want to receive that advice.
This is a dangerous place to be.
This is called pride; this is called sin.
There were areas in my heart where I basically was saying to God, “God, I think I know what You want me to do… but I really don’t want to do that.” There are two men that I regularly meet with to talk about life, struggles, and pray together. To both of these men I shared about my stubborn heart – and then I told them I didn’t want them to “correct” me. I didn’t want them to “punch me in the gut,” so to speak, which I think we all need from time-to-time.
Thankfully, neither of these men gave me a punch in my gut.
But God did.
I recently met with someone else who I respected but had never had a one-on-one conversation with before. I expected it to be cordial with talk about life and work… but God had other plans. Early on in our conversation, this man – a man slightly older and much wiser than I – realised I was holding onto some things in my heart and I needed to be awakened to my stubbornness. And God used his words to punch me in the gut.
It was a punch of grace because God was speaking to me through this man. God was graciously showing me His path and His healing – especially when my heart had longed for a more convenient path. This friend shared a beautiful verse with me, the final verse from the longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119:176 “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments.”
“I have gone astray… but I do not forget Your commandments.”
This paradoxical statement sums up much of the Christian life. I know that God’s ways are good and bring healing. Yet so often I wander from Him. I go astray.
I thank God for His grace to wake me up and call me back to Him.
I thank God that He loves me enough to give me punches of grace.