It’s half past twelve in the morning, last Thursday, and I’m sat at the desk in my room, with a giant cup of tea and a blanket, getting steadily more frustrated at my laptop as I click through page after page of an attempt to set up a new website for this very blog. I’d had a spurt of energy and creativity at about 11pm, and – always a good idea – decided to start the project that I had been putting off for ages.
I take a sip of my tea, and carry on clicking through, trying to install something that will in theory make the whole thing look great, and two things happen in quick succession:
- a message pops up on the screen to inform me that I can’t install the thing that I had just paid for, because the server (?) of my website couldn’t handle it;
- everything disappears. The page refreshes, and suddenly everything is gone: every page and post and picture, and I’m left with a blank webpage with “The I Am Project” written at the top, in the kind of font you would use when designing posters for a school project, age about eight.
Looking back; not the biggest tragedy that could happen. Not the end of the world. But at the time, the cuddly bunny that has sits on my bed got hurled across the room, and if it hadn’t woken up several housemates, I could have shouted a few choice words at the screen. Everything is fine now – while not everything was save-able, the website is back up and running, and looks great (cough cough); but it was one of those moments that made me remember why we hold everything lightly, and reassess my priorities for a second.
Here’s three things that I know to be true:
God loves, loves, loves it when we do things for Him.
It’s like a doting Father when their baby girl hands them a drawing that they’ve done; of course they’re going to put it up on the fridge, so proud of what their daughter has achieved, and happy that she wants to share it with her Dad. It’s not the quality of the work, or the number of people that will see it, that makes him proud; it’s the person that created it, and the fact that ultimately, that creativity came from something that he created.
I love this line from the book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, by Donald Miller: “If I have a hope, it’s that God sat over the dark nothing and wrote you and me, specifically, into the story and put us with the sunset and the rainstorm as though to say: “Enjoy your place in my story. The beauty of it means you matter, and you can create within it even as I have created you”.
We create, because we have a creative God, and because we were created. We love, because God first loved up. But:
We’re not just doing things for God; we’re doing things with God, and God is working through us.
This truth is found in 2 Peter:
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
Here’s the thing about something that has already been given to me: I can’t mess it up. Sometimes we live in a pattern of begging God for things: for faith, for patience, for health, for the finances we need. But here, we read that His divine power has given us everything that we need for a godly life – through this experiential knowledge that comes through a first-hand relationship with Him. He’s not waiting for us to ask before He gives us these things – He’s already given them to us. We have them. He has given us everything we need for a godly life, and He has given us his very great and precious promises. Everything that God promises us in the Bible has already been given to us.
Then, life with God becomes about participation: He has given me His great and precious promises, He has given me everything I need for life and godliness, so that I might participate in the divine nature. I have a part and a role to play in God’s kingdom, and in His plans on the earth, not because of who I am, but because of what He’s given me.
That’s the beauty in this God-adventure of life with Jesus: it’s not a stagnant life of religion and rituals, but it’s seeing Him do the work, seeing Him move things and drop vision into my heart; I just get to participate, and do things with Him.
And in this:
Participation is not a one-way street.
As much as I get to get involved with everything that God is doing, He’s involved with me. When we are Christ, we have Christ living inside of me, and that means that the things that come out of us, are God working through us. We love, because we have the love of Christ inside of us, and all of the power that Jesus had to love. We speak with the word of God, and all of the power that Christ had to speak the truth. This is participation: the divine nature, the nature of God, is inside of me and working through me, in everything, all the time.
And that means that when I mess up, it’s not on me: grace covers me, all the time, every day, in everything. I am holy because I have the nature of God inside of me, and the fruit of this is love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, abounding in me; not because of how good I am, but because of who He is in me.
It’s not about you, and it’s not about me; take the pressure off a bit.