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Simplicity

July 16, 2015 | Zach Belton

"The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention, but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship, and the servile imitation of the world which marks our promotional methods all testify that we, in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all." -A.W. Tozer: The Pursuit of God

Ouch.

This burn is brought to the modern era from 1948, and it is as true now as it was then (if not moreso). The Pursuit of God has been one of my go-to books for conviction and instruction, and I made sure to bring along a copy as I left for this summer. Each morning, I've taken it upon myself to try and instill a habit of a long quiet time on the shore of Lake Yellowstone, and this morning this book was an integral part of what God was hammering into my head.

I have been resting in Psalm 16 for almost a week now as I think on why I chose to spend my summer serving with ACMNP, but as I began reading it again, I couldn't help but be distracted by the beauty surrounding me. In the still morning air, the lake looked like glass, and the visibility allowed me to see as far away as Chittendam and Avalanche. I was awed for a moment at how large the lake was and the serene atmosphere I was sitting in. The image you see is a picture I took of the lake that morning. 

Earlier, I had spent time just skipping rocks into the water, and now noted that anyone walking down to the lake would never know. Aside from my footprints on the shore, there was no evidence of the rocks I threw (now swallowed up by the vast amount of water in front of me), and soon after, I would be gone to work, leaving the shoreline empty until the next person or animal decides to disturb the quiet.

God's forgiveness and grace have always seemed closest to large bodies of water to me. From His love being like waves that crash over and threaten to drown to the large breadth and depth and massive volume they contain. This was no exception, and I immediately drew the comparison of my stones being like sin, sinking un-hindered to the bottom, irretrevable. (The lake is all snowmelt, there's no way I'm going diving to retreive even the best of skipping stones).

What an incredible metaphor for forgiveness, all from a distraction!

Psalm 103 states that "for as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy towards those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." Anyone who's driven from the East Gate to West Yellowstone knows just how far that is. Between bear jams, herds of bison, scenery that demands appreciation, and crowds of tourists around Old Faithful, the trip can take upwards of 3 hours. Yet that doesn't begin to describe how far our sins have been removed from us. Simply put, our sins are gone. End of story.

I've rambled on, but all these words are to say that while I was sitting on the shore with a plan for my devotional, God interrupted with a simple, stated fact, "your sins are no more."

Lesson learned.

One of my favorite passages is Micah 6:8:

"He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?"

This passage brings so much peace into my life. Ever surrounded by standards of performance, we struggle to grasp at higher and higher bars, hoping to be recognized, claim achievement, and earn our wages. God has a different plan. "Walk with Me," He says. "Do justice, and love mercy, just as I taught you." I can almost hear Him saying, "don't over complicate things."

Yes, those things are difficult. Yes, they go against our sinful nature and it will take every ounce of white-knuckled determination to even attempt to walk in them, but God never asked us to go it alone. Back in Psalm 16, David sings, "because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved."

Christ was enough to cover my sin. The Father loves me and the Spirit is washing me with His word. I want to know God and rest in His faithfulness, trusting that He will complete His work in me; just like He promised. And sometimes, that means leaving my complicated plans behind.

"I had Jewish, Muslim, Atheist, and Christian friends from France, Germany, Slovakia, Egypt, Jordan, Jamaica, China, Japan, and several other countries. Getting to know them was a great way to broaden my perspective and challenge my worldview. "
– Adam, Calvin Theological Seminary 2010

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