I often pray our Lord Jesus would overwhelm me with the breadth, length, height, and depth of His love (Ephesians 3:18-19). After recently reading Lane Ortlund’s book, Deeper, I more intensely asked the Spirit to take the Gospel and the love of Jesus deeper into my life. I did not realize how painful that process would be.
After allowing my anger and frustration to vent as I preached the Gospel at an open air event last month, the Lord really humbled me when I had to apologize to several people I deeply love. I blew it big time, but truly “where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more” (Rom 5:20).
The Lord took me back to my childhood to expose some life-long sinful motives. At 19 years old, my Dad parachuted into Normandy on D-Day. Knowing he experienced the Battle of Bulge, Korea, and Vietnam, as a Christ follower, I longed to be on the front-lines to advance Christ’s Kingdom.
Anything less was failure.
So, for the last 43 years, I have been driven to be the pacesetter and the front-line guy in ministry. I had the sinful motive to gain the approval and applause of the committed Christian community. It was part of the reason I moved to Chapel Hill to join the Navigator ministry, went on staff with the Navs in Columbia, became a pastor, and went into open-air preaching. I had to prove myself as that front-line guy who would do what few would do. Just like my Dad.
To be clear, none of those things are wrong or sinful in themselves, but for me, so much of it was to prove myself worthy to the Lord and to other believers. In spite of me, the Lord used me and grew me through it all.
Sin always takes us deeper than we could ever imagine, but the Gospel and the love of Jesus is so much deeper and greater. The Cross has become so much more encompassing and Christ’s resurrection much more powerful. I praise our Lord for the tender discipline and mercy He has shown me through this past month.
How are you doing in terms of the Lord exposing your sinful motives and taking the Gospel deeper into your soul? The way of Calvary in our lives is difficult, but so very worth it as the Lord takes the Gospel and His love deeper into our hearts.