Monday, October 19, 2009

You ran well - who hindered you?

You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? (Gal 5:7)
 It's a long story to tell about the years leading up to the beginning of what some would call my "walk with Jesus," but suffice it to say that I can't remember a time in life when I was not a believer.  Yet I do recall a specific day - January 7, 1992 - when things really changed in my life and I began "running," so to speak.

I was 22 years old, almost 23, and life really did change dramatically.  I "quit" doing a lot of the stuff that I used to do and I began intentionally going to an evangelical (pentecostal) church and hanging out with evangelical people.  AT FIRST, I ran well.  I truthfully felt like there was a literal "halo" around my head!  I mean, I knew there wasn't, but the freshness of this new thing the Lord was doing in my life made it feel like heavy weights had been lifted, and my head felt light and happy.  I loved the Lord and I naturally (with no one pressuring me to do it) went around sharing this new thing with other people. It was as supernaturally natural as it gets!

But eventually the supernaturally natural life began to fade and I became hindered from obeying the truth.  How did this happen?  Did I "slip into sin?"  Did I go back to my old carousing ways?  No, it was nothing like that.  What happened is that I began listening to the things that were being taught to me (!) (in church, on Christian radio, etc) and it began penetrating my soul. The result - I began "trying" to live the Christian life that I had begun living without a whole lot of thought about what was right and what was wrong.

See, I knew that the changes in my life were not "of myself."  (See this post that I wrote a couple of years ago, about my full understanding that all of this - even my being drawn to God - was by grace alone).  As one who had already believed for years, I had previously been through a few "phases" in which I ignorantly thought I could live the Christian life, but there had never been any lasting effects. So by this point, I knew "I" couldn't do it.  But this time, it really was different.  It was very obvious to me that the Lord was doing something in me that I could not do by myself.

But again, it didn't take long before I began listening to all the teachings about what I'm "supposed" to do as a Christian.  I began soaking up all of the "shoulds" and "musts," and all the rules and principles for good, holy Christian living.  Eventually the joy and the love faded.  I had been "running well," and my Christian life had been a living testimony to the power and life of God in a person.  But now, I was hindered from running well, and the problem (although I didn't know it at the time) was that I'd fallen from a supernatural life of grace into a life of rules and law.

What's interesting (and sad) is that the verse above, which is part of a passage in which Paul is trying to help the Galatians go back to grace and freedom and leave behind forever their futile attempts to live by law, was (and still is) actually used in the church to get people like me to see how they were hindered in their walks with Jesus by not following all the supposed rules and laws and principles of good, holy Christian living!

Of course as we look at the entire passage in Galatians, we see that the Galatians had been "running well" because they had died to the law and had trusted solely in the life of Christ in them.  But they were hindered from obeying the truth because they went back to trying to be perfected by the law.  Paul told them that they had fallen from grace - not because they were sinning but because they were trying to maintain their righteousness by keeping the law!  He told them a little leaven (the law) leavens the whole lump.

I found that to be true when my "run" slowed to a very bumpy and unsteady stagger.  I had begun with much freedom, and with a trust that it was God's work that He was doing in me but I was now burdened and weary with musts and shoulds.

There is one verse in particular that really helped me along the way, during those years before I came back to grace again.  "He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it" (Phil 1:6).  I was definitely walking a legalistic line, but yet in the midst of all the leaven, grace was working its way back through, and I knew deep inside me that it wasn't up to me - it was up to God.  And I knew He'd be faithful to do His work in me.  And HE TRULY HAS BEEN!

If you're hindered in your "run" with God - who has hindered you?  How did you lose sight of His freedom, love and grace?  I encourage you to go back to the deep end of the impossible Christian life that is made light and easy because it's Christ-in-you who is living it, and it's solely God's work in you, not your work for Him!


  1. You know I cringed when I saw the title to this post? I was secretly afraid that it would be about sinning hindering was a reaction, no doubt, left over from the old Pharisee days - yuck!

    Of course, you would never condemn us in your posts! But it's like the poor abused dog - he's been beaten so many times that he naturally cringes whenever someone raises their hand..

    Loved your take on this verse! And Phil. 1:6 was one of the few promises that comforted me in the legalistic days, too! God is so good..

  2. Sparrow girl,

    When I wrote this I had a little debate within myself about how I would title this post, because in and of itself the title definitely has the 'appearance' of legalism. :) And I guess that's because many people in the church have really abused and misused this verse and passage.

    I also posted this on Facebook, and I put a little 'disclaimer' on there, saying that the post is not what some might think it is. :)

    It's a desire of mine to bring up verses like this and show what is really being said. Like you, I was 'beaten' with legalism and I long to share the freedom I've found and the goodness of God.

  3. Great to hear from you, Phil.

  4. :) Spur of the moment prayer request - for a fixed computer. Ya download a vista service pack that's supposed to help your machine and it wipes it out. Got all my music files on their without back ups...Look forward to seeing you dealing with those out of context verses. I don't know why I'm so slow to get stuff and be where I want experientially...

  5. I'm a day late, but praying for you Phil. I've not heard good stuff about Vista. I seem to be one of only a few who hasn't had any problems with it (yet). I've had it on my laptop since February.

    I don't know why I'm so slow to get stuff and be where I want experientially...

    Just rest, relax, lighten up. :) My three favorite words/phrases. Slow growth/understanding is allll right! I invite you, if you have the time and/or desire, to read this post of mine about slow growth. The post also links to a few other ones I've written on the same subject.

  6. Thanks Joel. I will have a look tho I've probably read it before. But I'll look again. I find that I have a lot of head knowledge, but I want my emotions lined up. Years of legalism..I do think I need a baptism of the Spirit to help me relax with assurance.

  7. I hear what you're saying about head knowledge sinking down into a living experience. On that note I will say that Jesus didn't say that baptism in the Spirit will make you free, but "truth" will make you free. :) Keep on soaking in the truth and let God work His fantastic works in you, in His time, as you rest in Him.

  8. As to vista..I've had it for 2 or 3 years I think. Don't think it's great. But a service pack installation has messed with out on that front!

  9. I think I meant that which might enable me to really rest in the truth such that I'm a witness to it. You know,I'm just so hungry.

  10. Thanks for the warning. :) I've never had a "major" problem with a computer, but I've got the 'backup religion' from hearing so many horror stories from other people.

    And yep, I hear ya on wanting to fully rest in the truth!

  11. Up and running on the computer front, Joel :) Between me and Dad, we managed to get important files via DOS, and then I factory-restored! Thankful!

  12. Phil...that's great! And... you NERD!!! DOS! Wow! lol ;) Glad you got your files back, and your 'puter restored.

  13. Lol, new stuff to me! Dad was looking stuff up, and helping.

    It's prob given me some more knowledge in future tho.

    Thanks, Joel.