I used to dream of skydiving. There was something about jumping out of an airplane that just seemed like the right thing to do (I was a teenager!). To my surprise, and after much persuading, I actually convinced my parents to pay for the big jump as a high school graduation gift.
I couldn’t believe it; dreams were coming true. I imagined standing at the open door of the plane nervous as ever, jumping into apparent nothingness, feeling the freedom rush by me at 9.8 m/s ², and experiencing a level of excitement that could only be matched by the fear of impending death at any moment – compelling, right? But I can’t truly be considered a thrill seeker because I never made the jump.
The price was paid, but I didn’t take advantage of the gift. Things came up, excuses were made, and I never pulled the trigger, or the chute in this instance. I didn’t experience the joy I imagined the jump would bring. And the sad thing was, I had no reason not to! Nothing stood in my way. I was like a child sitting in front of their presents on Christmas morning, refusing to open them for fear of disappointment or concern with what others would think of my reaction. And to this day, I still haven’t made the jump, which now seems like far less of a great idea than I originally imagined.
As I think back on this experience, I’m reminded that I’m not unique. So many people in the world fail to take full advantage of the gifts right in front of them. Whether it be with something as small as letting your coupon for a free Chick-Fil-A sandwich expire or forgetting to use your pre-paid monthly subscription service, we often fail to take full advantage of the good things in life that cost us nothing.
The same is true for Christians. As Richard Lovelace wrote:
“Only a fraction of the present body of professing Christians are solidly appropriating the justifying work of Christ in their lives… In their day-to-day existence they rely on their sanctification for justification…
Few know enough to start each day with a thoroughgoing stand upon Luther’s platform: you are accepted, looking outward in faith and claiming the wholly alien righteousness of Christ as the only ground for acceptance, relaxing in that quality of trust which will produce increasing sanctification as faith is active in love and gratitude.”
Christian, God has given you the greatest gift – union with Christ and all the benefits therein. In His life, we have fullness of joy, a peace that transcends understanding, a home in the love of the Father. Christ becomes our righteousness, wisdom, peace, and hope; and the Spirit becomes our comforter, friend, and helper. And yet, we don’t always appropriate the full benefits of this gift into our lives. We’re far too easily frustrated, frenetic, and frantic.
Jesus offers a word of correction for us on this journey with Him – “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him” (Col. 2:8). Simple, yet profound. Basically, the way in which we received Christ as Lord and Savior should now be the operating principle for real life today.
In other words, what directs your head, heart, and hands today? Not only in the quiet moments, but when things go wrong. When you get cut off on the highway or when you get sick again, what moves and motivates your heart then? What would make you satisfied? Is it Jesus – His Word and His love for you? Or is it something lesser that moves you in those moments, such as a desire for different circumstances, the fear of man, or the pursuit of ease/comfort in life?
I’m convinced, along with Lovelace, that Christians oftentimes fall into the latter group rather than the former. Namely, we often operate out of a pursuit of something less than Jesus in hopes to gain something that only Jesus can give. This pursuit is evidenced by what seems to be an increased anxiety, dissatisfaction, and internal “striving after” or “rush” rather than “resting in” or “calm,” even for Christians!
What would it look like for us to pivot the focus of our hearts from the pursuit of something we don’t have to the enjoyment of all we do have in Christ? How might we take the first steps into this life with Christ and walk everyday with Him as our Lord, rather than something else directing our hearts?
While much could be said to answer these questions, I’ll simply offer one thought: We can only enjoy someone rightly to the extent that we know them truly. For Christians, then, we can only enjoy Jesus in our lives rightly – and find our satisfaction in Him alone rather than lesser things –to the extent that we know Him truly.
Christian, you have the Word of God. If you long to be satisfied in Christ alone, if you long to “relax into trust” by appropriating the work of Christ into your life, then engage with the Lord in His Word. Take full advantage of all the gifts given to you in Christ. Meditate on all His excellencies you see in the Word throughout the day, moment-by-moment. Trust that only He can provide you with what your soul most deeply desires. As you do, I believe you will grow to relax and delight in Christ as you were meant to all your days.