MediaNet member Ruth McGarahan writes:
I’ve been a Christian for 26 years. Dad’s a vicar, mum’s an RE teacher and I’ve got a theology degree from Oxford. All of which are, quite frankly, a recipe for disaster if put into the wrong hands – my hands.
After a lifetime of Christian striving, I was struck afresh last year by the sheer grace of God, the utter worthlessness of our human offering and the total sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice.
It had been a fairly rough year – I’d experienced a string of seemingly unanswered prayers culminating in two close friends dying. At the end of a ministry session, where I’d been praying for members of my youth group and witnessed God do incredible things in their lives, I had a mini meltdown. I started screaming (in my head!) at God, demanding to know why he never seemed to do anything I asked. I proceeded to list my religious accolades, reminding him of my unswerving (likely!) faithfulness. I was starting to wonder if he had genuinely forgotten about me or perhaps thought I was no longer worth bothering about, when someone came to pray for me. That someone was my little sister. 5 years my junior and most certainly not what you’d call a striver (and that’s generous!), she has the most incredible gift of hearing God. As she was praying and I was getting more and more agitated, she started to read from Isaiah 49:
V4 “But my work seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose…
V14-16 Jerusalem says, “The Lord has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.”
“Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!â¨ See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins.
As you can imagine, I was swiftly removed from my pit of self-righteous, self-centred, self-pitying despair and started to focus instead on the only One who had the power to remove me.
Of course, I still lapse into wholly unhelpful, totally unbiblical striving, but I’m trying to constantly remind myself that the elder brother could learn a lesson from the prodigal. Like the prodigal, I need to be overwhelmed by His incredible love and undeserved grace and prostrate myself before my Heavenly Father. It’s time to give up my vain ambitions, my desires, my selfish longings and trust unswervingly in His sufficiency, His cross, His redeeming power. He is enough and without him I am nothing.
Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as rubbish, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. Phil 3v8-9