“I’m finite, I come to an end.
I’m finite, I cannot pretend.”
One thing that never ceases to amaze me about Sara Groves’ lyrics is that they speak so directly and beautifully to my life. This song is always a little convicting to me.
I’m an achiever. A doer. I usually have about half a dozen things on my plate at the same time (writing, Bible study, school, chores, Bible Bee, Good News Club, a new job, editing…). I have this tendency to take on more than I can realistically accomplish, and way underestimate how much I can get done in a given time span.
I once told an older friend of something I’d planned. “Girl,” she said, “you just want to do everything.”
That phrase stuck with me. Do everything. It’s true enough – often I do try and do everything. Sometimes that works out, sometimes it doesn’t.
But apart from the dangers that come with busyness (we can talk about rest and relationships another time), for me there’s a much deeper problem. It springs from the roots of my heart to attack my relationship with God.
Not Quite Good Enough
As I’ve learned more about abiding in God (knowing Him. Meditating on His word day and night. Dwelling in His presence) I’ve also realized how incapable I am of really doing it. Meditating on the gospel? Usually, I’d rather meditate on myself.
I know the gospel, of course, that my sin is forgiven in Christ. But I’m an achiever. I want to do everything. I know I’m forgiven, but even so I feel like I can’t really come before Him in praise right now, because I just sinned (again).
I don’t actually think that, of course, but my heart’s pernicious whisper is that I’m not – not quite – good enough.
And this is where I need to come back and really gaze upon the gospel.
He Did it All
Because it’s true – I’m not good enough. And I never could have been – lost; wandering; rebellious; as steeped in sin as the boiling water is full of flavor once I’ve poured it over my teabag.
But two thousand years ago, a carpenter was sawing wood in a little town in Israel.
And that carpenter was the Son of God.
God, become a man? The One who fashioned our (so very many greats) grandfather out of clay, take on a body of dust? The eternal, the infinite, take on a mortal body just like ours, with eyes and blood vessels and kidneys and callouses on His feet?
Oh, yes. Such is God’s love, that humiliation became glory.
But it wasn’t just the coming. He came, yes, but it wasn’t just for a day or two; He didn’t descend from heaven, sit on a throne in Herod’s temple, and invite all Israel to see Him in His majesty.
He lived here. Lived, just like all the rest of us, from birth until His death at thirty-three. He grew up. He learned language, learned to read and write, learned to be a carpenter.
And He did it all without sinning – not even once.
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
He never got angry at His brothers (and I’m sure they annoyed Him). He was never distracted or discouraged from doing His Father’s will. He never succumbed to the biting lure of pride.
And it wasn’t just His life that was lived in obedience to God His Father. It was His death, too.
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:8)
And in this death, He took upon Himself the wrath of God for all our sin. The punishment that was supposed to fall on us? The just, righteous anger and judgment that should have been ours? It fell on Him instead.
He didn’t stay dead, of course. We just celebrated it a week ago. He rose up, a foreshadowing and guarantee of our own resurrection.
And now, because of that death and resurrection, His righteousness became ours.
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Romans 10:4)
Jesus Christ’s perfect obedience becomes mine. When God looks at me, He doesn’t take my sin into account (that wrath and indignation became Christ’s). What He does see is His Son’s righteousness – that perfect, never-failing, never-thinking-of-sinning obedience and love.
I can’t do everything. He’s called us to so high an obedience, I can never begin to meet it. But the beautiful thing is, He gives us grace. His holy power indwells us, enables us to speak words of wisdom and kindness, to take every thought captive in obedience to Christ. And when I do fall, He gives forgiveness.
So when I’ve sinned (again)?
Yes, it’s serious. It’s an offence against God’s holy nature – what someone once called cosmic treason.
And such is the greatness of Jesus’ sacrifice, that God has forgiven it all. Instead, He kindly beckons me as His child to repentance and praise. How great His love!
No, I can’t do everything. I’m completely helpless, actually. My very obedience is only by His aid.
I’m going to fail. I can’t do it all.
He did it all for me.