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Nostalgia for The Soul

To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking. —Agnes de Mille

I don’t miss the days before GPS, when I would end up at my surprise destination and wonder, where did I go wrong?

There are followers of Christ asking the same question: Where did we go wrong? We tried our hardest to get where we thought we were supposed to go. We tried following all the instructions, but we still feel a sense of failure. Exhausted, disoriented, and lost, it’s tempting to give up hope and lose faith.

How did we get off course? How do we find our way back?

Paul takes the believers of Galatia back to the beginning.

I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? (Galatians 3:2)

Let’s be real. We all know we are saved by grace through faith. But we also know believers are notorious for handing each other to-do lists in the name of discipleship. It sounds a little like this:

Put down that cigarette. God’s temple is not an ashtray. We’re supposed to be the aroma of life, not Marlboro. Besides, you’ll need both hands to turn the pages during your quiet time. Here’s a daily plan for finishing the Bible in a year, with little check-off boxes to mark your progress. And how often do you get paid? Good, write a check for 10 percent each pay period. And don’t worry, if you forget to do any of this, your accountability partner will be all over you like a cheap suit… in love, of course.

Can you feel the restriction? The stiffness of marching boots? The forced change in behavior? This is not the way of the Spirit. Feeling like a failure is not the same as feeling sorrowful over sin. It’s something deeper—indicative that I’m marching and not living through the fullness of God’s Spirit. The Spirit is the fullness of life.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for purity, generosity, and hunger for God’s Word. But not when they are forced upon us from the outside and pursued in the power of the flesh. No, all good things come from the movement of the Spirit within us. Purity, generosity, and hunger for the Word are all longings of His Spirit within us, and this fruit ripens by season, not by force.

Lord, whisper to me the story of our meeting—the story of my salvation—when I received Your grace by Your Spirit and believed what I had heard. Show me, right now, where I am still following the external rules of man-made religion by force, rather than following the internal GPS of Your Spirit. I choose to trust Your transformation over working it out on my own. Amen.

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