My One Defense

Yesterday I took my contracts exam. Then last evening I went to a large-group Bible study at my church, and on the way home I was listening to the song “Lord, I Need You” by Matt Maher. Part of the chorus says, “My one defense, my righteousness, Oh God, how I need You.” I’ve heard this song many times before, but it struck me in a new way last night.

In any type of law, it’s often wise for a defendant to bring up multiple defenses. You can challenge the factual basis of a claim—stating the other side didn’t prove its burden—or you can raise “affirmative” defenses, justifications, or excuses. Maybe a defendant was justified acting in self-defense Or a defendant who breached a contract should be excused because the task was impossible. There are a variety of ways to defend someone, and good lawyers will often try to put more than one egg in the basket.

Sometimes a lawyer will bring up defenses that don’t even go together, arguing one “in the alternative” of the other. For example, “The defendant didn’t have a duty to care for X person, but if you think think he did have a duty, then he didn’t violate that duty.” or “The contract didn’t say X, but if it did, the defendant should be excused because he made a mistake and never really agreed to it.”

We might think that there is security in multiple defenses, but in truth, an effective defense will get someone acquitted, and a thousand mediocre defenses will just leave someone with higher attorney fees.

So with the law on my mind, I listened to the “Lord, I need You” with fresh appreciation for its truth—we don’t need an alternative defense or backup plan.

Just one will suffice. The One.

And yet so often I live as if I’m waiting in uncertainty for the verdict to be announced. In the worry of “will I be enough?” “Have I done enough?” As if the backup defense is somehow needed. As if my success and good deeds will up my chances with the Judge.

But instead what is required, repentance and faith: “Yes, Lord, I’ve sinned. But I plead not guilty by reason of Jesus’ blood.”

This defense cannot fail. It fully vindicates corrupt hearts headed for eternal death. And it’s always available to all people, no matter the sin, no matter the crime.

~~~

 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1

Advertisements

Prepare My Heart to Praise You Then

I’ve said and heard many times in Bible studies before “It’s so much easier to praise God when life is going well for us.” It’s true. A few days ago I was feeling unusually joyful and happy about life. As I was singing worship songs in the two-hour drive I was taking that day, I prayed, “Prepare my heart to praise you then.” In the other times. In the less-easy-to-praise-God times. In the less-easy-but-immensely-important times.

I think of it as an infinite pattern of praise—praising God today for today and praising Him today for tomorrow. “Lord, I praise you today. And I praise You that when hard times come tomorrow, You will be with me. And I praise You because when you get me through the hard times of tomorrow, and I’m tempted to ignore You and boast in myself, You will be with me. And I praise You that when I’ve been humbled from that boasting that follows the hard time following the goodness of today, You will still be with me!”

And so this is what I’ve written over the past week:

Prepare my heart to praise You then
When darker days do come.
When earth gives way and mountains move,
Recall to me Your love.
Steadfast, I know it never leaves.
Each morning it is new.
I trust You for the coming doubt
That You will see me through.

The woes of earth surprise me not.
Already I rejoice.
I hide Your word within my heart
To always know Your voice.
With truth in hand, I’ll face the trials.
My double-edged sword
Cuts down the lies that pull me far
Away from Christ my Lord.

With eager heart, expect great things,
His glory coming soon,
A story of His faithfulness
To never-changing tune.
Steadfast, I know You never leave,
Each morning grace anew.
I trust You for the coming doubt
That you will see me through.

Some verses referenced:
Lamentations 3:21-22; Psalm 46:1-3; 1 Peter 4:12; James 1:2; Psalm 119:11; Psalm 105:5; John 10:3-5, 14-16; Hebrews 4:12; Romans 8:18

Thank You, Father

Sometimes God amazes me. Oftentimes God amazes me.

This week started off with an off-the-charts “meh” level. I was stressed about school, anxious about life, and feeling very lonely. A few days ago I thought to myself: I cannot live like this. I could not make it through this semester if nothing changes. I need more of God.

I don’t always like to draw a direct cause and effect link between these things, but last week I was not spending enough time with the Lord, especially in the Word. I’m fairly sure that had some effect ton why I was feeling so down and anxious. While I was praying about my anxieties, I wasn’t listening to God’s words in Scripture.

So the next morning I woke up and put aside the excuses. It didn’t matter if the house was burning down, I was going to read the Bible. I don’t think it was really the checking of the “read Bible” box, but it was the turning toward God and relying on Him that changed my outlook—saying, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”

Perhaps what amazes me most is how God prepares me and refines me through trials. A week ago I posted about how God always holds my hand. It was inspired, as I mentioned, by someone else’s hardship, and yet even as I posted it to my blog, I was beginning to realize how much my heart needed to hear that message. I believe God is always with me, holding my hand in the valley of the shadow of death which is this life. But I want to share a couple ways God “squeezed” my hand to remind me of this in the last 24 hours.

  1. Financially – There’s a good chance I will have a free place to stay when I’m traveling for a wedding in a few weeks. I was getting a little worried as I was searching for hotels earlier this week, but I think I now have another option. It’s not 100% settled yet, so I’m continuing to pray through this, but it was the greatest relief.
  2. Relationally (a) – I was sad that a particular friendship seemed to have ended, and I was praying for some sort of reconciliation, and yesterday, I saw concrete progress in that direction.
  3. Relationally (b) – I am absolutely overjoyed right now because I just learned that at aforesaid wedding, I will get to see a dear friend whom I’ve not seen in over a year!

And now, I’m off to finish my writing assignment for what I’m sure will be a long night (early morning), and yet, even in this, I’m encouraged as I was reminded today about where my identity is (not in academics):

Thank you, Father,
That whatever I do,
To the heights I’ll reach,
To the lows I’ll fall,
When the As become Cs or the Cs become As
When the undesirable becomes desired,
Then returns to ugly again,
My identity is secure above
As beloved, child of the Most High God.