I have been blessed this week by this quote from Henri Nouwen:
“The spiritual life is a long and often arduous search for what you have already found. You can only seek God when you have already found God. The desire for God’s unconditional love is the fruit of having been touched by that love.” (The Inner Voice of Love, 111).
I would even take this a further step back, and say that I only seek God when I have already been found by God (Gal 4:9). I only desire God’s unconditional love when he has already immersed me in that love. This is the heart of the gospel – God loves us and redeems us when we are still sinners, he rescues us before we even know we need rescuing! (Rom 5:6-10)
As Eugene Peterson is fond of saying, “God is first.” God’s pre-work underlies all my spiritual activity, even (especially) my choices to repent, trust and obey him and his word. This is made clear in Philippians 2:12-13.
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (ESV)
I rest today in the fact that my inconsistent discipleship finds a home in the infinitely consistent pre-work of God through Christ. Underneath all my false starts, my attempts to prove myself, to obey and trust, my shipwrecks and idolatries is the love of God. The pressure’s off!