Bridge the Gap
It is humbling that I cannot be anything I want. I don’t get to create myself. I accept myself as God’s gift to me and accept becoming that person as God’s task set before me. Inside your soul there is a battle between a flourishing self–the person you were created to be–and a languishing self.
Jesus made staggering promises about his ability to transform human lives:
Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within them. (John 7:37–39, NIV)
This life is not something we produce; it exists independently of us. It is the Spirit of God. If we turn to any book in the New Testament, we see a picture of amazing life offered by Jesus through the Spirit.
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. (Acts 1:8, NIV)
Though you have not seen him [Jesus], you love him . . . and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy. (1 Peter 1:8, NIV)
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29, NIV)
Would you say this describes you? Are you filled with inexpressible joy? Do other people comment from time to time that your belly is flowing with rivers of living water and that you have more or less mastered humility?
I think that often people are moved by the vision of Jesus, they are overwhelmed by the hope and beauty of his promise, and they say yes to it. For a time, there is a kind of spiritual honeymoon period. They are filled with love for God, and they are drawn to the Bible. They want to tell other people about their faith. They love to worship. And some things change. Maybe coarse language gets cleaned up. Maybe certain habits get overcome.
But over time this sense of progress stalls out. Instead of life flowing with rivers of living water, I yell at my children whom I love. I worry too much about money or my job. I grow jealous. I use deception to get out of trouble or to get what I want. I pass judgment on people easily, casually, arrogantly. My prayer life is up and down. I am stuck in a gap. God’s plan is for you to become the best version of you, but right now there are two versions of you. There is the you God made you to be–and there is the you that currently exists.
What do you do with the gap?
People think it is our job to bridge that gap by our effort. But we can’t. This gap, too, can only be bridged by grace. Self-improvement is no more God’s plan than self-salvation. God’s plan is not just for us to be saved by grace–it is for us to live by grace. God’s plan is for my daily life to be given, guided, guarded, and energized by the grace of God. To live in grace is to flow in the Spirit.
What’s in me… the Spirit of God flowing through me like a river of living water, or my own efforts at self-improvement?
Do you see the gap between the counterfeit you that you sometimes choose and the you God made you to be? How often are you tempted to pretend that gap doesn’t exist–that you are spiritually more mature or “in the flow of the Spirit” than you really are? What do you do with the gap?
© 2014 by Zondervan. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Visit JohnOrtberg.com for more about John Ortberg’s work and ministry.