by Emily Conrad
I was just thinking of the dream I describe in this post yesterday or the day before. I’d begun prepping a different post for you to go live today, but then I came down with a cold and didn’t feel up to creating something new. So, I hope you won’t mind revisiting this post from 2 years ago. Maybe it’ll be new to you! Either way, I hope it’ll encourage you.
In my dream, I stood across a display table from a famous Bible teacher, whose books I’ve read and video studies I’ve watched. In a one-on-one conversation, I tried to describe some of the fear I face as I pursue my calling.
“When you’re a writer…” I trailed off with the realization I was speaking to a more famous writer than I am likely to ever be. I redirected. “When your book comes out, everything you think is out there for everyone to read and critique. You know how it is. Maybe I just don’t have the confidence to be a writer.”
“Write about God’s love. Tell people how wonderful it is to be in relationship with Jesus. If you do that, how can you go wrong? How could anyone fault you for that? And even if they did, how could God be anything but pleased? You are so covered in His grace, and He loves you so much, nothing people can think or say will ever change your standing with Him. When you understand that grace, grace that catches you even when you fail, grace that restores you and bestows on you the status of daughter of the ultimate King, how could you be anything but confident?”
I knew he was right. By saying I didn’t have confidence, I hadn’t gotten to the root of the problem. The root of the problem was that I wanted to base my confidence on my own performance and on how that performance was received by people.
As a perfectionist, I tend toward thinking that if I can just eliminate my faults, I’ll have reason to be confident. I vow to try harder, to work longer, to go further, but it’s always a lost cause. I’ll never be perfect. Not in my writing, not in my understanding of God, not in my actions. But I so desperately want to be confident before people and before God.
The Bible teacher pointed me toward grace because the search for confidence without it is futile.
I felt empowered, freed, renewed. I wished it had happened years before. The exchange freed me from the compulsion to attain personal perfection before I proceeded in my calling with confidence.
Yes, of course, I am to aim to please and obey God and grow in my relationship with Him, but my confidence was never meant to be grounded in my own perfection at doing so. Instead, it is to be grounded in a better understanding of grace.
I hurried to write down the exchange, bits of it fast fading from my memory.
And then I woke up. The whole thing was a dream, and like sand through an hour glass, more and more of the words were disappearing. I typed in my phone what I could and have had to fill in the rest.
Hungry to examine the dream, I compared it to what I found in the Bible, and I believe Romans 7:21-8:39 speaks to the same topics of fear and confidence and grace. I encourage you to read the passage if you struggle to move in your calling with confidence, but for now, here are some excerpts:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the life-giving Spirit in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. For God achieved what the law could not do because it was weakened through the flesh. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous requirement of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4, NET
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are God’s children. And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ) – if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:14-17, NET
Your calling may or may not be writing, but maybe like me, you sometimes wonder if you’ve got what it takes.
If a lack of confidence hinders you like it sometimes hinders me, maybe the truth is you don’t have a confidence problem but a grace problem.
When we truly understand the grace lavished on us when we turned to Jesus to save us, we’ll be empowered by it, sent forth in it, and freed through it to be who we were called to be by Jesus, our Savior.
We’re not perfect, but in Jesus, we stand faultless before God. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. He is mighty to save an imperfect sinner like me.
God’s mercy, love, and grace solve the confidence problem once and for all. They are life-changing, and if we’ve turned ourselves over to Jesus, we needn’t wait another day or another hour to let them take effect.
We haven’t received a spirit leading to fear and confidence problems. Instead we’ve received the Holy Spirit, who enables us to cry out to God as our Daddy.
Because of Jesus, we can be confident in grace today, tomorrow, forever. And confident in grace, we can move freely into the work God is calling us to.
Book display table photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash
Folded hands photo by Olivia Snow on Unsplash
Book with hand turning page by Liana Mikah on Unsplash
Graphics created on Canva.com
This post was originally published on 12/12/17