The life of faith for a follower of Jesus Christ is messy. Have you noticed? We live in a fallen world. Sin has frustrated the cosmos, and creation is subjected to futility and in bondage to decay (Romans 8:20–21). This makes our daily existence difficult and complicated.
The frustration can be both mundane and extreme. Our stain-resistant carpet ends up not being so stain-resistant after all. The shiny new car with the fresh car smell is, well, just a car, with scratches and squeaks to prove it. Our daily schedule never seems to pan out the way we planned.
“Your devotional life should serve as one big gospel reminder.”
On the other end of the spectrum, you might receive a life-changing diagnosis. A friend could experience tremendous suffering. A loved one was here just yesterday but now is gone. Have you experienced some of the realities of life in a fallen world recently? How do you communicate with God in difficulty?
Where Do You Run?
Within the fallen world, we reside with broken people. In Genesis 3, man and woman engage in accusation and slander, and on its heels, a man murders his brother. David fled for his life from his son Absalom. Christ was betrayed and denied by those who were his closest followers. While many of us might not experience drama to this extent, all of our relationships are less than perfect and require significant daily effort if they are going to last, let alone thrive. Have you experienced the brokenness of relationships recently? Where do you run for relief?
To top it all off, we wrestle with internal sin and external temptation. Sin distorts our thoughts, desires, choices, actions, and words. The Bible requires each of us to accept that, at the most practical of levels, we have moral flaws within us that we can do absolutely nothing to solve on our own. Meanwhile, we fight against spiritual forces of evil as ferocious as a prowling lion, seeking to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). What internal struggles and external temptations are you facing right now? How are you fighting against them?
I think you get the point. The Christian life is messy and complicated. In some way, every day, you will face disappointment, grief, pain, confusion, and struggle. The question is, Where do you go and what do you do?
Transparent Hearts Before God
If you are a true follower of Jesus, you will be in constant communication with your Lord as you experience the frustration of life in a fallen world. Many of us tend to think that our prayer life — or our communication with God — is limited to our personal devotion time, before a family meal, during the prayer segment in a worship service, or within our small group or Bible study.
The reality is that we talk with God all day long. Sometimes those conversations are vocal; other times, they are silent in our hearts. Sometimes they are cries of pain; other times, they are hymns of profound joy and thankfulness.
That’s one reason why I love the Psalms so much — we get to eavesdrop as the writer talks with God all day long. In Spirit–inspired poetic form, the psalmists record their honest and transparent conversations with God. The angst, doubt, and weakness. The confusion, despair, and desire to give up. The self-reminders to find strength in Christ and follow God no matter what. The deep abiding joy as we remember the presence and grace of God.
I see myself in every Psalm. The story and struggle of my life of faith is splashed across every page, and so is yours. But, if all we did was discover us in the Psalms, we’d leave depressed and discouraged. Most significantly, we find Christ in the Psalms. We are confronted and comforted with the beauty of his faithfulness, patience, power, wisdom, and grace.
As a believer in Jesus, there is no healthier place to be than to remind yourself of who you are and who your Savior is. That’s what the Psalms do so well, and that’s what a healthy devotional life is meant to stimulate.
“There is no healthier place to be than to remind yourself of who you are and who your Savior is.”
Your devotional life should serve as one big gospel reminder. It should remind you of the horrible disaster of sin. It should remind you of Jesus, who stood in your place. It should remind you of the righteousness that is his gift. It should remind you of the transforming power of the grace you and I couldn’t have earned. It should remind you of your future destiny that is guaranteed to all of God’s blood-purchased children.
Different Form of Reminder
If you’re anything like me, you forget. Not just your car keys or what time you were supposed to have that meeting — spiritual familiarity causes you to forget the gospel of Jesus Christ. As the themes of grace become more and more familiar, they don’t capture your attention, awe, and worship as they should.
I write to remind myself and others of the glorious grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some years ago, I even committed to writing 366 daily reminders. I also regularly remind myself of the gospel through a different form: poetry.
I do not retreat to a country cottage to write poems. No, I take out my phone during a flight to write down lines. I scribble a phrase on a napkin while waiting for Starbucks. I pull over on the side of a road to capture a thought that suddenly comes. I pen poems spontaneously as I interact and communicate with my Lord and Savior.
What you are about to read is one of these poems. My hope is that this piece, titled “My Heart Cries Out,” will help you see the Savior more clearly, understand his grace more deeply, confess your struggle more honestly, worship him more fully, and find the motivation to continue to follow the Savior even when he’s leading you into unexpected and hard places.
My heart cries out,
but I am not
because in the din
of a million voices
from every place,
in every situation,
young and old
crying day and night
and in distress,
you are not
you are not
you are not
you are not
you are not
But you listen,
you attend to
in tenderness of
in patience of
spirit, and with generosity of
You listen to my
plea and you never
But with power and wisdom
and the tender heart of a
you do this amazing thing —