One of the things I’ve tried to do so far in 2016 is get back into reading a lot of books. Fortunately, law school did not rob me of my love of reading (there is so much required reading to do as a law student that some of them have had enough by the time they graduate) but I have found that unless I specifically make it a priority, it gets pushed out of my schedule. I’m going through two great books right now (I can’t read just one thing at a time). One is “Too Busy Not to Pray,” by Bill Hybels. I’m listening to this one in audiobook format since my church is emphasizing prayer this year.
As a side note, I get audiobooks for free with a public library card through two services. One is Hoopla (link), which is what I’m using for the Hybels book, and the other is Overdrive (link). I wish the selections were a little more comprehensive, but I can usually find something off of one of those that I’m interested in reading. This keeps me from buying a bunch of books that I read once and then keep on a shelf.
The second book I’m reading is one that I bought for myself and the other men in my men’s group. It’s called “The Saving Life of Christ” by Major Ian Thomas and I am really enjoying it. I have always struggled with serving in ministries from a motive of trying to earn God’s favor rather than serving in response to His love that is already mine through Christ. This book is all about getting out of the Christian life that is obligation and drudgery to the authentic joy-filled Christian life of allowing Christ to live His life through me as in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
When Christ died for me, He set me free from the burden of trying to keep all of the laws and rules to EARN my salvation. My sin (failure to keep those laws) is forgiven by grace and I am now called to allow Him to live His life through me. Here’s an illustration from Thomas’ book that I love: I want to get to my destination across the sea but I am bound to the earth by the law of gravity, which I am unable to break. I am told that there is a higher law, the law of aerodynamics, that will set me free from this old law if I will only commit myself in total trust to it. By faith, I step into the plane, sit back in the rest of faith, and discover that this law does indeed set me from from the law of gravity.
Major Thomas continues:
“So long as I maintain by faith that position of total dependence, I do not have to try to be free from the law of gravity — I am being set free by the operation of a new and higher law…[B]ut the moment I discard my position of faith in the new and higher law that is setting me free (by stepping out of the cabin mid-flight), I discover that the old down-drag is still fully in operation and I am caught again by the law of gravity and plunged into the water! I must maintain my attitude of dependence if I am to remain airborne!”
This is a great metaphor and I see myself in the person who is having a nice flight only to decide that it really can’t be that easy and so I leave the plane and try to fly by flapping my arms as hard as I can. That doesn’t end well. Hopefully, this illustration is meaningful to you as well.
As I close, I wanted to share a song that we are doing this weekend several times in connection with the church’s Upward ministry. During halftime of our Saturday games, the praise bands and choir will be performing “No Longer Slaves.” The song, which I’ve included below, has a simple chorus, “I’m no longer a slave to sin, I am a child of God,” and a powerful bridge: “You split the sea so I could walk right through it; You drowned my fears in perfect love. You rescued me so I could stand and sing: I am a child of God.” I hope that is your story as well.