What actually took place is this:I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man.
Galatians 2:19 The Message
This past Saturday I woke up and officially kicked off my training for our annual Rim 2 Rim hike that will take place in October. As far away as that seems, the training starts now. As much as my flesh was arguing the many reasons I should stay in bed, like how I could save some time by doing a quick 10 minute workout at home, I could hear my Spirit saying “Come on! Let’s go!”.
I laced up my dusty Grand Canyon shoes and headed out to hike my local mountain.
I forgot how much I enjoy hiking. The colorful sights and the colorful people. With a good playlist pumping my feet and heart up the hill, up I went.
I am sure it’s no surprise to anyone that when I move, I hear from God. Sometimes in a song, sometimes in thought and then sometimes he gives me a visual that takes my breath away.
As I was closing in on the top I had my head down in order to keep a good watch on my feet. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him. Yes..him. Who him? The man who basically owns the mountain. It is his mountain. He is king of the this hill and he goes by the name “Ant.” He is a beautifully fit and trim African American man who literally scurries up that mountain like an insect with wings. He is known to go up and down that mountain at least 3-4x a day. Rumor has it that at one time in his life he played some sort of professional sport. Either way…you get the picture..no one passes Ant on this mountain. Try as you might..he’ll eat you up and spit you out.
The only reason I was closing in on him was because for some odd reason, he was stopping. As I was coming up behind him not only did I know it was him, I also noticed he had turned it up a notch and had added a full weighted vest to his climbing wherewithal. As I was passing him (yes..a one time ever feat) I saw that he was holding something in his right hand that at first glance looked like a swimming mask. Within seconds of seeing what resembled a mask I realized exactly what it was. It was a hypoxic training mask. It simulates a high altitude environment. Places where there is “thin” to little air. They look evil and I am certain you feel like you are going to die when wearing one. Especially when climbing a mountain with a weighted vest on.
Within moments of passing Ant, I could hear our weighted friend, gasping for air as he was chasing me down. It sounded like Darth Vader was coming for me. I felt like Darth Vader was coming for me.
All I could think was “IS HE CRAZY! This is it! He is successfully going to kill himself!! All for what?” Ya..I know.. perhaps he is training for something. But unless he is training to play professional football on the moon, or his children/ loved ones are trapped on top of Mt.Everest and he is the only one who can get them…tell me.. what is the point?
Maybe it was my imagination that he was chasing me down. But maybe not. Maybe he didn’t like being passed.
And I confess….
I gassed it!
My flesh kicked into overdrive and there was no way that this hypoxic, weighted fool was going to pass me. I was not going to let him pass me, even if it meant popping a lung! (See..I need Jesus.) I would like to think the Lord was choosing me to humble him and perhaps get him to a point where he would have to ask himself “What the ___ am I doing?”
Eventually, within moments I couldn’t hear the dark side chasing me down anymore. I don’t even think he lasted more than a minute until the laws of physics caught up with him. He was done.
Then the lesson came crashing in on me. With the picture of Ant and his weighted vest, and scary mask on my mind, and my wondering why someone would inflict such pain on ones self, I heard the Lord speak. He said “Sometimes Alisa..you are just like Ant. You think you can add something to me. You can’t add or take away from my grace. You are saved by my grace Alisa. Not through works, or weighted vests of your own.” He was telling me to live light and breathe freely. He paid the price for me to have the right to do so.
Suddenly, I felt the weight and I couldn’t breathe. My stomach turned as I saw myself and as I often see the church. Oh religion.
Religious people do this all the time; they think if I can only be a little better, know a little more and do a little more “holy”, THEN I will be clean. Surely then God will see my good work and be pleased. If I do this, then God will do that. They think they can help the sanctification process along. They chase down their weaknesses and load themselves up with more things to do or not to do to chase off their weakness. Religious people are not comfortable with grace because you can not DO anything to control it, increase it, change it or deplete it. Grace is too easy. And just like the people in Galatia at the time when Paul wrote the verse below, we don’t trust grace. We trust ourselves and our rules because they make sense to our feeble, foolish and slave driven minds. That is what Paul would call a false gospel.
Some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give into them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.
Grace will have it’s way with us and it will be on His terms, in His time.
Our friend Ant is working within the laws of fitness. To increase your fitness train longer, harder, faster, and stronger.
I want to be just like Paul who quit being a law man so he could become God’s man.
So I ask you what false gospel are you participating in? What are you trying to do for God that only he can do? Let us not get grace confused with the freedom to do whatever you want. That’s no power at all. That type of freedom empties the cross of it’s power. Grace gives you the ability to do what God is asking you to do. I am just certain he is not asking any of us to put on a weighted vest and suffocate ourselves into holiness.
At the top of the hill on Saturday I turned in my vest and my mask. Once again I turned them in.
If you see me wearing them again, please…go ahead and pass me. I will be quickly reminded how he has called me into the free and open spaces where I get to delight in his law and love for me. Where I get to live light and breathe freely.
Comment below if you are turning in your law card and picking up your grace card. Share with us what false gospel you are cutting free from today!