Imagine someone who has fallen overboard in an ocean voyage. Surrounded by darkness and the peril of the deep, they cry out for help. Over and over they cry out, “Someone, please help me!” And then a life preserver is tossed to them. Receiving it into their arms, they shout for joy, “Oh thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Happy ending, right? The one who was lost to the depths was found and brought to,safety. But let’s go back in the story. What if the one in distress didn’t receive the life preserver? What if instead, they shouted, “Oh thank you. Thank you so much, but I am not worthy of being saved. You don’t know the secret and shameful burdens I’ve carried for so many years. I’d rather die in these dark waters than live and have my sins revealed.”
Does such a story rewrite seem inconceivable? I can tell you it happens more than we know. I witnessed it ten years ago. She said, “I know you want me to accept Jesus but I am just not worthy.” Despite opening the bible to passages that reveal truth that confronts that lie, she would not grab onto the life preserver; she wouldn’t receive the gift that was offered.
The promise is this:
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12
I suppose we often think about this in relationship to that time we were “saved.” But years later, as we walk with Jesus, one step at a time, three words continue to speak to us in our daily battle of surrendering our will to God’s. Three words: received, believed, right.
Receiving isn’t just acknowledging a gift and then putting it on the closet shelf. It means embracing it with such joy you don’t want to let it go.
Believing is not just an acceptance that something is true. If I understand correctly, the text actually means “keep on believing.” We can receive the gift of Jesus’ salvation and the promises of a transformed life, filled with power to be an overcomer in life’s hardest struggles. But if we do not keep on believing in times of the toughest of all battles, what help will we have? What good are promises if we don’t believe them and instead go back to doing things our way?
We sometimes think the US Constitution gives us the right to be happy. But what it actually says is, we have the right to the pursuit of happiness. The right of pursuit is not the same as actually being happy and content . . . unless we are talking about our relationship with the one and only true God who loves you whose promise IS always true, who does reach out with his very Spirit to guide you and me through the confusing emotions and self demeaning thoughts. He gives us the choice (right) to question him and to choose to receive his perfect gift, believing in all situations that his peace is better than your worry and anxiety. His truth is more reliable than all your doubts. His love covers a multitude of sins – forever. His contented spirit allows your faith to survive and thrive regardless what difficulties come your way.
Having the right to be God’s child is not the same as receiving and believing that inheritance is yours. It’s not the same as acting like God’s own adopted child. When trials come your way, face them with the faith of actually being God’s child.