On my wall sits a quote from Oswald Chambers that reads:
. “our reach must exceed our grasp.”
The apostle Paul understood the kind of motivation this statement inspires. In chapter 12 of his letter to the early Roman Church, he writes, “do not be slothful in zeal, instead be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.”
In part, we can bridge from Paul and Chambers to say, that though we may find the waters thick and heavy with thoughts of self-condemnation, self-defeat and self-doubt, we should not surrender to them. Even though we may feel past being able to grasp onto something that will take us beyond these, we must still reach, because we have been reached for!!
Whether all three self-negatives be the consequences of words spoken against us or echoes from an internalized pattern of responses long ago set in concrete by abuse, or lies we’ve told ourselves, the apostle’s much earlier proclamation speaks, denouncing all false claims on us:
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1)
It’s healthy to recognize the limitations of our understanding and ability, but we should never let this master us, as though that recognition gives credibility to lords who seek to paralyze, subdue and rule over and against us; as if Jesus Christ wasn’t, in fact, Lord.
To not be slothful in zeal may include taking a step back. Taking time to refocus, or re-calibrate and come back with a different approach in mind; to recognize the struggle as a learning experience; learning through the things that have caused us to become despondent, unresponsive or careless.
Education is in the imperative:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
To be fervent in spirit can involve pushing on through until we grasp that which was once beyond our reach. The proverbial, you have to dig in order to find the gold. In this we hear Dallas Willard’s call to understand that ”grace is opposed to earning, not to effort.” (The Great Omission)
‘To pray without ceasing; to rejoice in hope and be patient in tribulation” (Romans 12:12). To not give in to the whispers that in darkness seek to stop and condemn us, by saying “be nothing, do nothing, because you are nothing and can do nothing“.
In the face of this opposition, the apostle speaks, ”Let love be genuine. Hate that which is evil, cleave to that which is good”; “do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:9 & 12:21).
“Do not be slothful in zeal, instead be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord!!”
As Chamber’s said, our reach must exceed our grasp. If not, we go nowhere for having failed to see how firmly we are already held by God’s grace and the freedom that exists therein.In Jesus Christ we reach for the One who has already reached for us.
Education is in the imperative.
So with all this in mind, here is my creative offering for this week. It is part one of two posts where I have, as a guitarist, musician, Christian and writer, sought to reach beyond my grasp.