OK, we’re now one week into 2016.
So, how’s it going with all those resolutions and goals? Are your plans humming and your muscles pumping to churn out consistent, desired results? Or, have you become disillusioned? No? Then just wait. Have you failed? No? Then just wait. Do you want to give up? No? Then just wait.
This year, I’ve decided to not even wait. Instead, God broke through to me on December 29th in the midst of my annual goal-setting retreat, to realign my heart with His grace. Maybe, one week into 2016, you can join me in this heart-alignment.
In performing this alignment, God didn’t poo-poo my goal-setting or my desire to grow and improve in 2016. What He did (and keeps doing, thankfully), is to set my heart upon Him and not upon the attainment of my goals for a deep sense of heart-security and significance. He started by challenging my ridiculously vain attempt to base my heart’s sense of security and significance upon my own strength, wisdom, plans, and success. Then, He reminding me that I’m His very own “beloved barnacle” in Christ, enabling me by His grace to set my heart’s security and significance upon Him in that wonderful declaration.
He said to me, “You are My beloved in Christ, blotches and all, with no improvement required, ‘for by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God’” (Ephesians 2:8). He said to me, “You remain My beloved in Christ by My grace alone, because ‘you have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which you (continually) stand’” (Romans 5:2, emphasis added).
He also reminded me that I am a beloved barnacle. He said, “Doug, you’re like one of those tiny crustaceans I designed to find its stability solely in something much bigger and more stable than itself. You’re like a little spiritual arthropod that can find itself to be totally secure in Me, The Solid Rock, and in my indelible love for you in Christ. Like that barnacle, you can rest in these facts, and enjoy imperishable heart-security and significance no matter what typhoon-failures may come your way. Anchored to Me by Me, you can go about your little barnacle life with peace of heart.”
If you are a Christian, I hope you enjoy this alignment as much as me, and ask God to apply it to every aspect of your life and ministry.
What do you think? Please leave a comment!
And if you want to go a little deeper on this topic by yourself and with others, I offer below an edited version of my journal entry from December 29th for your study. “Cling” (dabaq in Old Testament Hebrew)
And be careful to… cling to Him and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul. Josh. 22:5
But you shall cling to the LORD your God just as you have done to this day. Josh. 23:8
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. Ps. 63:8
I cling to your testimonies, O LORD; let me not be put to shame! Ps. 119:31 When I don’t cling to you, I experience and cause all kinds of bondage, pain, and dis-ease.Suffering and curses of every kind. See Deut. 28***
For if you turn back and cling to the remnant of these nations remaining among you and make marriages with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, know for certain that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations before you, but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good ground that the LORD your God has given you. Josh. 23:12-13***
Solomon’s life is a cautionary tale of one whose heart clung to things other than the Lord, like women and foreign gods and wealth (see 1 Kings 11).
Jehoshapaht is presented as a warning and as an evil king for clinging to the “sin of Jeroboam.” (2 Kings 3) The benefits of clinging to You include:But you who held fast to (i.e., clung) the LORD your God are all alive today. Deut. 4:4***
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to (cling to) him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them." Deut. 30:19-20***
For if you will be careful to do all this commandment that I command you to do, loving the LORD your God, walking in all his ways, and holding fast to him, then the LORD will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourselves. Deut. 11:22-23*** I’m not supposed to cling to anything or anyone else. It’s impossible to cling to two things at one time anyhow. It is right to destroy or avoid or run from anything that I might find magnetic in this way… something that draws me in and compels me to cling to it instead of to God.None of the devoted things shall stick to your hand…. Deut. 13:17***
Hezekiah is remembered as one who clung to the Lord. He demonstrated this by destroying the things that he and his people tended to cling to instead of the Lord. (2 Kings 18) It is very interesting that he “broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made” because the people had begun worshipping it by “making offerings to it” (v. 4). Ah, how I can cling to god-ly, even god-ordained things, or to means of grace instead of to God Himself! I can cling to something genuinely good, something even like the “old rugged cross.” Ah, but the cross is not God. God is God!
I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. Ps. 101:3***
I’m to “hold fast” to God, His Word, whatever is good, the gospel, my confession of Christ, the hope set before me, Christ’s teaching, while also abhorring what is evil, I can only do this by “testing everything” (1 Thes. 5:21). I really like this image of having “sticky” hands, re: “None of the devoted things shall stick to your hand…” (Deut. 13:17).I have a sticky/clingy heart, ultimately. As a barnacle, I can try to cling to anything: sea sponges, sand, and the waves themselves. I do this when I try and rest my sense of security and significance in life on anything or anyone but you (my skills, gifts, connections, money, relationships, morality, religiosity, ministry results, etc.). It’s not that being “sticky/clingy” is wrong. You created me with a sticky heart. Please help me to stick to you and you alone, O Lord. Help me discern when I’m sticking to something or someone other than You. And when might that be? When might I have a problem?
Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you. Gen. 28:15
No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Josh. 1:5
You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah Ps. 32:7
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. John 10:28-29
He has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Heb. 13:5b
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom. 8:38-39
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Pet. 1:3-5
*** Please take care in applying these texts. Since we no longer life in a theocratic social-political context, they do not apply one-for-one today as they did when they were originally given to the nation of Israel. For example, the “nations” God promises to drive out do not necessarily mean geopolitical entities today. They might be interpreted as powerful sin-kingdoms and tendencies in our own hearts that God tends to oust as we cling to Him by faith in Christ.