By Steve Corgan

A few weeks ago Gwen had some test results that raised concerns with her Doctors. Consequently they ordered more in-depth tests; Bone Scans, CT scans, x-rays, blood work, etc. All together Gwen’s had in excess of $20,000 worth of tests. Once again, everything came back negative for cancer, Praise God! They now believe that the troublesome results were perhaps produced by a thyroid imbalance. While the possible thyroid imbalance concerns us, it’s just chicken feed compared to cancer. So, what started as a crisis ended in further confirmation that Gwen remains cancer free.

We continually give thanks to God for His goodness and grace toward us. However, occasionally we grow weary of her treatment regimen. There are days that it seems like our whole lives consist only of cancer and cancer treatment. In those moments (and they are only moments) we turn ourselves toward the Lord and He refreshes us.  Matthew 11:28-30 in The Message Bible has been a source of encouragement. It says:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Many friends have encouraged us that the Lord won’t forget our 21 years of missionary service and sacrifice. I’m sure that He won’t. But more importantly I’m convinced that who we are and what we’ve done have absolutely nothing to do with His loving kindness towards us. His grace and kindness are based on His unconditional love for us; not on us. He saves, blesses, and heals because of who He is and because of what Jesus did; not because of who we are or what we have done. It’s not about us; it’s all about Him.

I am certain that if I had spent the last 30 years as an alcoholic, drug addict, and derelict that God’s love for me would be just as generous and intense today as ever. He doesn’t love me because of me. I get no credit. He loves because of who He is. God is love. It’s not something He has or does; it’s who He is.

So what if I’m a dog?

For a long time the story of Jesus and the Canaanite woman whose daughter was demon possessed baffled me (Matt. 15:22). She came and bowed before Jesus and He said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She responded saying, “Yes Lord, but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Finally Jesus says, “Woman, your faith is great,” and He heals her daughter.

In my mind something was seriously wrong with this picture. Does God want us to crawl in before Him with this “I’m a dog mentality?” I didn’t believe that, and yet I couldn’t explain this passage. I told God, “That woman didn’t have faith. I know how faith looks and talks, and she didn’t have it.” Then one day God opened my understanding.

In my mind’s eye I saw that little woman before Jesus as he spoke those seeming harsh words of insult and rejection, and I remembered  Jeremiah 29:11 that says, “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” I thought, “That’s what God wants for this woman. That’s what Jesus must be after. He is trying to bring something up and out of her that’s positive and good with what sounds like an insult.” Then my mind went to the woman’s answer, “Yes Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs from their masters’ table.” I saw Jesus’ face turn to a smile of satisfaction as he looked upon her, and at once I understood.

In essence, what the Canaanite woman said was, “Jesus, I’ve not come with the expectation that you will heal my daughter because I think I’m someone important, worthy, or deserving. I’m not here expecting you to heal my daughter because I’ve confessed the word faithfully, fasted, prayed, done warfare in the heavenlies, and torn down every stronghold and generational curse. Who I am and what I’ve done has nothing to do with it. I may be a dog. So what? This isn’t about me and who I am; what I’ve done or haven’t done. This is about you, and who you are. I believe you will heal my daughter, not because of who I am, but because of who YOU ARE.”

That’s what great faith is. Not faith in my faith, my confession, or whatever the latest charismatic formula for success and victory might be. True faith is resting in the knowledge and having your heart fixed and persuaded that God loves you unconditionally, and that His love and goodness toward you are limitless and without conditions. Faith isn’t something, a force or leverage, that we use to get things from God or to manipulate Him to do what we want. Faith is rest in the reality of God’s love. When this revelation becomes the basis for the reality in which you live, and move, and have your being then you will cease in attempting to manipulate God.

Religion always makes our life in God about who we are, our performance, our service, our sacrifice, our faithfulness, our confession, our dedication, and our love for God. Through religion we inevitably end up at the center of our relationship with God and life in our quest to please Him. We make it all about us. We put the emphasis on how much we love God when in reality our focus should be on how great God’s love is for us. The good news of the Gospel of Peace is not about how much we need to love God but rather how much He loves us. Serving God is not about our faith, but His faithfulness. It’s not our service for Him that changes anything. It is His unfathomable, unchanging, unconditional love for us that changes us. John said, “We love Him because He first loved us.” He doesn’t love us because we love Him. He is not faithful to us because of our faithfulness to Him. The Bible says, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”  2 Ti. 2:13.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

I pray that these words will encourage you as you learn His “unforced rhythms of grace.”

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