Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The First Thing

Ponder this:

If you knew that you would be meeting with God at the same time every morning for the next six months, how do you think the beginning of each meeting would go? What would He say? How would He greet you?

I suspect the beginning of my meetings would be the same every time. With His arms reaching for me and with a brilliant smile on His face, Jesus would say, “Grace and peace to you, Ralph.” Hearing those words and looking at Him would utterly convince me that He meant what He said, and I would be entirely secure in His love and confidence.

That’s what thirty years of meeting with Jesus tell me—it’s the same every time. No, I don’t always hear those very words, but I always receive from Him grace—“You are just right with me, and I will be with you and in you for all that is needed today”—and peace—“We are in union, Ralph; what is anxiety to you?”

I don’t know how the Spirit leads you to Jesus every day, but a frequent course I take is through a morning minefield of insecurity. There’s a lot in my life that says, “There is not sufficient grace for you, Ralph. Isn’t it obvious? You’ve been messing up and digging a hole for yourself that is now so deep you’ll have to get out before God can do much for you—hole digger! Better get busy.” People who know me well can nearly always tell when I’ve begun to believe that tangled lie because I throw myself at work as soon as I get out of bed. I begin a course of securing my already insecure self. Isn’t that nuts? That’s like a hole trying to fill itself up by producing more of itself—more hole. I’m set up to meet with God, but I choose the way of the flesh.

It won’t work.

I don’t think I’m alone in this either. I find it interesting and deeply helpful that Paul began all of his letters with the following brain-washing, protein drink for the sons and daughters of God:

“. . .Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:2).

I’ll bet Paul had meetings like ours with God. Having been ruined (crucified) to a world in which he had been excelling beyond most everyone, is it a stretch to imagine that Paul needed God to secure him—all the time? Over and over again? I believe that Paul cherished for himself the words he gave to the beleaguered Christians at Philippi, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Thessalonica and Colosse, and to dear sons-in-the-faith Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” was not a simple greeting! It wasn’t a sort of, “Hey, dawg, what’s goin’ on? Livin’ the dream?” The best part of the letter didn’t happen when once those fourteen words were dispensed. Those words were (and are!) the very foundation of Christianity—all of it. Until we know them, until He gives them to us and convinces us that He means them, there is no next, there is no “Let’s get on with it, already.”

I believe that the greatest point of our stumbling today is because we’re not convinced. We’ve been induced to run past the meeting and greeting that convinces and enables us. How can we live by faith if at our very foundation of belief we don’t have, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” ?

Fortunately, convincing us is one of His best pleasures, and heaven rejoices when we believe.

So anybody want to meet with God tomorrow morning? He’ll have something important to give you. It will be the first thing.


  1. Anonymous5:31 PM

    Thanks for your lifenote today, Ralph.
    Most of the time I forget that I am in the grace and peace of God. I know differently, but, what creeps into mind seems to always be about fixing my present physical circumstance or situation.
    And living in the flesh with it "calling all the shots" is so tiresome.
    I really needed the reminder that God really likes spending time with me and grants me with all of His total love, since that's what He IS.
    Thanks for your help today.

  2. Anonymous11:34 AM

    Wow, I can really relate to what you wrote. What you said about how you usually go through a morning minefield of insecurities - well that's me also! Whatever the minefield might hold - maybe things that happened the day before or what went on before I went to bed...whatever it might be...if I start focusing on that and not keep my eyes on Jesus, the message that comes through to me (and it may so very, very subtle)is that I didn't measure up, that God may be disappointed with me, however slight that might be. And that's baloney!! The more the Holy Spirit reveals to me the Agape pure love of my Father and Jesus...oh - the grace and peace that come from them...I am left breathless and almost speechless!!!! Thank you so much for your encouraging words.