I have this picture stuck in my head of a boy, sitting on the passenger side in the back seat of the family car. His head is turned toward the window, with his left hand covering the left side of his face. And with his other hand he his picking his nose as if no one in the world can see him.
It could have been an incident with one of my boys. But the image is so strong in my mind that I suspect the little boy was probably me—thinking I was pulling a fast one on Mom.
When we think no one is watching, we all do things we wouldn't do in front of other people. But this is not just limited to our outward behavior. When we think we are alone with our thoughts we do things in our heads we wouldn't do, if we believed those thoughts were apparent to others.
If you want to be free from the curse of trying to make progress all by yourself, then don't ever be all by yourself. Of course, this is more difficult than it sounds.
I closed Friday's article by saying that God is all about relationship and He is all about change. Living by the law is not about relationship, because living by the law is a very lonely lifestyle; nobody else can obey the law for us. And living by the law is not about change, because the law can't change us; it only convicts us that we need to change.
To make the transition from living under the law to living under grace is an incredibly challenging task. Just about every response we have to just about every detail of every day has to be changed. And I'm not exaggerating this process. I've been at it for some time now, and I'm constantly amazed at how much of the old life remains. I need something simple to hang on to—to help me focus. I need something basic that stays with me, no matter what is happening around me.
As long as I remember these two points, I can stay out from under the law:
- I don't do anything alone—in thought, word, or deed.
- Anything I do is for the purpose of changing me, or the world around me.
It's quite a challenge to never do anything alone. And that means what I do in my head as well as what I do with my hands. The people who know us well would say that Sherrel and I do just about everything together; but I still have plenty of times when I am physically alone. And even when we are together, I can drift off into my own world—affectionately (or not) referred to as those times when I'm “off and gone yonder.”
You may feel like you are never alone—that people are constantly consuming your days. You may covet any time you can spend alone, even if only in your thoughts. But you are alone more than you realize. And being alone—even in your thoughts—is not an option if you want to live free from the law.
I'm going to ask you to consider something quite radical to the human nature. Will you consider giving up all your privacy? Will you consider allowing God complete access? Will you consider intentionally and deliberately involving Him in every single one of your thoughts, your words, and your deeds?
“But Mike, what does this have to do with moving out from under the law, and living under grace?”
There is an expression here in America: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Because much of its economy is centered on pleasing our human nature, Las Vegas provides more than the usual amount of opportunities to break some kind of rule—as the slogan indicates. If you thought you were completely alone to walk the streets of Las Vegas, both in your physical presence and in your conscience, it wouldn't take too long before something would come against you that would try to control you:
- Willingly, because your human nature would want to do something that was against the rules—such as spending too much, drinking too much, or some other indulgence.
- Or unwillingly, because someone else's human nature would want to do something to you that was against the rules—such as robbing you, swindling you, or controlling you in some other way.
And you would be on your own trying to resist whatever came against you. Sometimes you would win, and sometimes you would lose. This is what it is like to live under the law.
But the story would change if Jesus, in physical form, never left your side as you moved about the city. I'm not talking about walking with you in the way another human being would. I'm talking about Jesus being handcuffed to you (for lack of a better description), and His mind directly connected with yours through some kind of monitoring device. All those things coming against you, appearing to be impossible to control before, now become completely possible to control. This is what it is like to live under grace.
O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I'm far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you. (Psalm 139:1–12 NLT)
I'm not just playing with words when I talk about being joined at the hip with God. It is possible to never be alone; and it is good to never be alone. It is possible to live in His presence; and it is good to live in His presence.
Can you see now, the importance of never being alone—even in your thoughts? You won't even attempt to tackle an issue on your own if you are consciously aware of God's presence.
Have a good day,