It has come to this. My two-year-old, Charlotte, ate cookies for lunch. We have officially limped over the finish line of one of the longest summers in history, and that was the best I could do today. Summer break began on May 23rd, and the start of the new school year has been long in coming, as in post Labor Day. Please do the math with me and throw some compassion my way. Forts, crafts and popsicles are great, but we had definitely gotten to the point that we needed some structure and routine.
I had pictured myself getting my lovely children back to school, and diving into the new routine with vigor and focus. In my defense, I did manage to get to the grocery store today. But when you are feeding a small army (bless them all) sometimes gathering the week's provisions gets lengthy. And the bakeries in the grocery stores in Florida give cookies away to whiny children. Lord have mercy. It's the best thing ever. They even let you come back for seconds if you really need it. I don't know when I've last felt so cared for.
So after Charlotte had filled up on cookies, it's not very surprising that she wasn't interested in carrots or apples. Feeling very guilty, I laid her sugary self down for a nap. I looked at all the groceries in bags on the counter, and all I wanted to do was take a nap myself. After seriously considering it, I felt even more pathetic. “Get it together,” I said to myself. “Now is your chance to do something productive. Get moving!” Instead, I just sat down.
Opening up my Bible to the book of Hebrews (if you are thinking that I was procrastinating from my household duties by doing this instead of putting away the groceries, you are right, but Jesus always wins), I read the following:
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are- yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16
What sweet, sweet words. Sometimes we just desperately need someone who understands us when we are at our weakest-to be met with an I understand instead of a pull yourself together. This is what Jesus does. He sympathizes with us as we are overcoming weaknesses, because He knows what it feels like. He “has been tempted in every way, just as we are.” He recognizes our battles for what they are, because He has already tasted just how hard it can be to keep on, to stay faithful, to not give up.
He knew that there would come a point for all of us when the best that we had just wouldn't be enough. Nowhere is that more true than when it comes to our eternal salvation. No amount of great effort or white knuckling makes us perfect enough to stand in God's presence. There will always be a gap between the best a person can offer and the perfection God requires to spend eternity with Him. “The wages of sin is death,” (Romans 3:23), and even a good deed done with selfish motive is enough to keep us separated from God.
Thankfully, “we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God” (Heb. 4:14). After His crucifixion and death, Jesus entered His Father's presence in heaven, offering His blood in place of ours. God the Father saw Jesus' sacrifice, and was satisfied with the price Jesus paid for our sin. Because of Jesus, we can draw near.
But when our weaknesses and failings are front and center in our minds, we can get tempted to run away from God instead of towards Him, allowing Him to help us in the process of overcoming weaknesses. It's at those times that we need to be reminded that we can approach the throne of God with confidence instead of fear. Why can we do this? It's because Jesus sits on a Throne of Grace, not a throne of condemnation. When something in our heads tells us that we have to get ourselves fixed up before we can come to God, we can be certain that it is not God's voice. He invites us to bring our questions, doubts, fears and failures and to come close.
Hebrews 4:14 encourages us to “hold firmly to the faith we profess.” We need to be reminded to hold firmly to these truths because it's so easy to trade them for a checklist of ways we need to perform in order to earn God's approval.
God doesn't ask you to perform for Him. He asks you to be in relationship with Him. He receives you as you are, and offers rest. This is the place you can come and just be yourself. Overcoming weaknesses is impossible on our own. You can drop the baggage, drop the burden of performance, and just let Him wrap His arms around you in unconditional love. He's waiting for you at the Throne of Grace.