Overwhelmed

I need discipline, especially in my Bible reading. Some people may be able to read here, there, and everywhere willy nilly and stay focused. I cannot.

So I came to Titus 3 last week and got stuck, in the best way possible. That sense of “this seems brand new even though I know I’ve read it many times before” hit me clearly, and I keep going back to re-read it and meditate on it, finding it richer every time I return.

“Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.”
(Titus 3:1-2).

I stopped, overwhelmed by the last phrase. It’s a great idea- every consideration for everyone- and a seemingly impossible one. I have a tendency, wrong though it is, to read things like this and think, “time to take a vow of poverty” (which may be God’s plan for some but which He has not revealed for me yet), and “kill myself trying to serve other people” (also not revealed to me).

But…neither my story nor the chapter was over. So I kept reading.

“For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.”
(Titus 3:3).

Seven words in, I was done. As if I was a child, sitting on the neighbor’s grass at Five-Day Club hearing the gospel again in its simplicity, the truth of my sinful start was clear. The sword of the Spirit cut cleanly, and my own inability to be anything less than lost was deeply apparent. The compassion in “we also” put me in my place- the place of needing consideration!

And now I was propelled into the next verse, already knowing the truth of grace but needing to read it alive again.

“But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
(Titus 3:4-7).

Ahh! But when…kindness and love through the Father and Son and Spirit…I could breathe again, filling my heart and lungs with the breath of life. The weight of self-imposed expectations and overwhelming pressure had to flee, because the Spirit has been poured out richly in Christ, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. This story’s not about me, and it never has been. What sweet relief!

Jesus mercifully regenerated me when I prayed for salvation as a seven-year-old, but He continues to renew me, even on a random summer morning on a disciplined Bible reading plan. The truth of the good news should never be stale, but sometimes, I take the miracle for granted.

Thank you, Jesus, for reminding me again of how I desperately need You and how present you are.

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