My identity is firmly fixed in Christ and it is not wrapped up in my performance. As Bunyan said so many years before, “my righteousness is in heaven and it’s not dependent upon my good frames or my bad frames”. My standing with the Father is already settled. My record is established. I am in union with Christ and all that He has is delivered to my account. This truth was a balm for the soul of Mike the disciple. But somehow this truth wasn’t impacting Mike the pastor.
Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges was one of the most life-changing books I’ve read. Paragraphs like this one brought me so much freedom:
Living by grace instead of by works means you are free from the performance treadmill. It means God has already given you an “A” when you deserved an “F.” He has already given you a full day’s pay even though you may have worked for only one hour. It means you don’t have to perform certain spiritual disciplines to earn God’s approval. Jesus Christ has already done that for you. You are loved and accepted by God through the merit of Jesus, and you are blessed by God through the merit of Jesus. Nothing you ever do will cause Him to love you any more or any less. He loves you strictly by His grace given to you through Jesus. (Transforming Grace, 73)
I was about three years into my first youth ministry position when I hit rock bottom (or at least it was bottom for me at the time—I’d find myself going a bit deeper into the well of depression a bit later).