Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. –1 John 3:18-20
I woke up yesterday agitated, bothered that everything in my life seemed just a bit off kilter. My relationships were rocky. My eating is off the tracks. My exercise is non-existent. I’m behind on my grading. Everything’s just a bit messed up.
Part of me wanted to leap out of bed and make a lengthy to-do list. Supplemented by a list of resolutions, that might do the trick.
Part of me wanted to pull the covers over my head and sleep the day away.
Part of me–or maybe something independent of me–recognized the answer why I still lay in the bed. “Get my relationship with God right,” this little voice told me, “and all the other things will work themselves out.”
“Yeah! That’s it,” I assured myself as my feet hit the floor. “I’m going to get my relationship with God right. Then life will be peachy.”
Within two hours, life stunk. I’d yelled at two of my kids and talked sharply to my wife. I topped a hearty biscuits-and-gravy breakfast off with two bismarks. Nothing was going right.
“Why?” I shouted as I stood outside in a driving rainstorm, shaking my fist at the sky. (Okay, that setting I just added for effect.) “Why didn’t things work out?”
No sooner did those questions cross the threshold of my mind than I realized the error of my day. Simply saying that I would get my relationship with God right wasn’t enough. I had to actually do something about it, a something that I couldn’t just wave my hands and make true in the act of rolling out of bed.
Of course, I’m pleased that my lapses don’t foul up my standing with God. Doing right doesn’t make me more redeemed, but it’s not worthless either. It’s like my citizenship in the United States, I think. If I fail to salute the flag properly, that doesn’t take away my citizenship. But saluting the flag, singing “God Bless America,” and otherwise living out my citizenship remind me of the land of my birth. Similarly, my devotion to God helps me to remember whose I am. In the end, that’s all that matters.