I used to feel guilty when I had the conversation with the Lord.
Do you know the one I mean? It always starts incredibly sheepish and shameful – littered with my apologies for not coming sooner, not trusting deeper, not being a more regular penitent.
The words come like a flood at the beginning, offering all sorts of explanations for why I’ve been away, and then everything calms down and God reminds me of His promises – those beautiful truths with a floor that won’t fall out.
I used to feel guilty when I had the conversation, but now I just feel freedom because I’m not bargaining anymore. I’m not asking for fair exchange or bartering for a better deal. My apologies and excuses and guilt feelings change nothing about the transaction about to take place when I commune with my Savior.
Now the conversation is like sewing a tapestry instead of sewing a button hole. Have you ever sewed a button hole? You need very little thread and it takes very little time… you’ll also likely have to come back and sew it on again when it comes off because buttons get a lot of wear and tear. A tapestry is very different – 12 inches of thread and a needle won’t do it. The thread weaves in and out and in and out.
Yesterday, there was a beautiful baby in my backseat. She didn’t let out a single complaint about my driving or about our little road trip to see her mom for a supervised visit. She didn’t seem to mind that I needed to have the conversation with the Lord the whole way to our destination, but it wasn’t a bargain she heard.
I think I’m beginning to understand the sweet grace of the Lord’s promises. The salvation He offers daily is filled with everything I haven’t earned. I know I will be on the receiving end before the first word of apology can leave my lips. But a funny thing happens when I trust His freely given promises – love prompts me to promise back.
I don’t mean the rushed-and-desperate promises that I’ll get better, do more, try harder.
What I mean is that a conversation wove into my yesterday – a day that would have bent me to bargaining in the past. Yesterday was a day that I desperately needed everything to go well for my job and for the kiddos involved. Normally, the conversation might have happened a couple times in those real clinch moments but instead it got woven in.
As I made my morning coffee, I prayed for love that casts out fear and then claimed the casting out. When I got anxious, I petitioned for peace and then walked with calm, bold steps. With the little ones in transit, I trusted the Lord to cover my car and I drove.
Promises are a big deal. But my promises to God are held together by His promises to me. I cannot bargain and barter with the Creator of the universe, but I can live out the promises He has made for me and in me.
I can promise because He is faithful and my promises are nestled deep in the well of my salvation. I can promise because it magnifies the Lord who saved me.
What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord, I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. Psalms 116:12-14
I don’t feel guilty about the conversation anymore. I just feel freed.