Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. 1 Thess. 5:23-24
Holy and loving Father, it’s passages in your Word like this one that make me want to weep and dance at the same time. I feel like weeping over the years I spent in gospel-ignorance—a stranger to the ways of grace. I suffered much under the hands of bad theologies, man-centered remedies, and Christ-less formulas. How I praise you for rescuing me!
As a young believer, I was certain my sins were forgiven, but I remained confused about how you actually change your sons and daughters. It’s was kind of like Jesus did his part, now I’ve got to do my part. But this one Scripture, all by itself, affirms that salvation, all of it—is “of the Lord”. The whole doxological enterprise, from beginning to end, is of your doing, Father.
You are the God who called me to life in Jesus, for I was dead in my sins; you are thoroughly transforming me to be like Jesus; you are keeping my whole being blameless until the day you send Jesus back to finish making all things new—including me. The God of peace you are, indeed! Where else can such peace, joy, and assurance be found?
How did I miss the really good news of the gospel for so long? Why was I such an easy target for performance-based spirituality? Why wasn’t I able to recognize corruptions of the gospel sooner? I lament the years I spent in seeing Jesus more as my perfect model than as my perfect righteousness.
Scouring my heart for hidden sin; rededicating my life to Jesus, time and again; trying to make Jesus Lord of all things (as though I could make him Lord of anything); holding out for a special experience of the Holy Spirit that would once and for all change me… these were the things that preoccupied me more than savoring a life of union and communion with Jesus. How did I miss so much of the gospel for so very long?
Father, enough of looking back in sadness; I choose to look up in gladness, for you’ve turned my mourning into dancing. You’ve removed the sackcloth of my grace-less self-righteousness, self-reliance and self-absorption, and you’ve clothed me with the wedding garments of the Lamb. You love me as much as your love your beloved Son, Jesus.
With the music of a coming banquet already emanating from heaven, my prayer is simply this: Dear Father, more and more, and through and through, make me like Jesus. You are faithful and you will do it. So very Amen I pray, with profound gratitude and assurance, in Jesus’ holy and loving name.