Today’s guest blogger is Karen Pickering. Karen is a Biblical Counselor and
founder of The Lytroo Retreat. She is also the author of a great new
book, Learning to Seek God’s Presence, a ten-week study guide written for people who are
broken by circumstances. You can read more about Karen and her ministry here. Her blog is reposted with permission.
I’m sure we all have a ready answer for that question. My answer has changed over the years. Let me explain.
I heard the gospel at a young age and accepted it. Somewhere along the way I twisted its meaning. I faithfully went to church, read my Bible, prayed, did all the things Christians were supposed to do. I was proud of who I was and what I had accomplished for God. I taught Sunday school, led Bible studies, served on committees, witnessed to others about Christ… Basically I followed my man-made list of what a Christian looks like and what a Christian does.
Then the trouble came. It began slowly over the years. Some painful episodes here and there. My faith was shaken, but I held on. Then more trouble and eventually a devastating family crisis that I was at a complete loss to “fix”. I turned to God in confusion and despair. The mess that was my life was beyond fixing. It was too shattered. I lived moment by moment. I kept my Bible by my bed. It was the last thing I read before I drifted off to sleep. In the morning I would pull it into bed with me before I got up to face the day. It was my life line. It was God’s life-giving word. During those days I spent hours in the word. Letting it flow over me, sink into me, binding up my wounds it gave me moment by moment strength. I would leave it open and not an hour or two would go by that I didn’t need to read and gain new strength. I remember crying again and again. It is too much, I can’t go on … and I would hear God whisper … “Can you get through this hour?” My answer was, “With You I can.” And I did again and again. He became my life and breath. The only thing that was keeping me sane.
My self-sufficient self had met its match in this trouble and I desperately needed God in order to keep on living. What I didn’t realize was that I had always needed Him. Unfortunately my displaced confidence was in living the Christian life well instead of simply living with Christ.
I needed the trouble to see my need. I needed the trouble to see the beauty of the one who loves me beyond measure. I needed the trouble to come to the end of myself and look more carefully at the God who made me. I needed the trouble to understand that God saves us in the midst of trouble not from it. Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean we get a pass on awful things happening. We still live in a fallen world. The difference is we have a God who is with us.
That was what I was missing. I was trying to measure up. I was trying to be my own savior. God was there all along, waiting for me to acknowledge His presence.
So what is my life like now? The trouble is still surrounding us. God hasn’t fixed it all, but whatever life throws at me He will be beside me. If the trouble deepens His arms will sustain me. The trouble has not been able to pry him from my side.
So getting back to my question. What does a Christian do? … Simply, they live in God’s presence. That changes who you are and what you do. Thus we don’t strive to do good works so God is pleased with us, instead our good works are a result of living in Christ. Being so absorbed with him and who he is that our life takes a completely different direction.
There are no longer lists to accomplish, but a life to be lived day by day, moment by moment in God’s presence.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 NASB
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