As I have been studying through the book of Hebrews, one verse has really been rattling around in my mind… “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace in our time of need.”
Frankly, I don’t know many believers who approach Jesus in this manner. We tend to approach rather tentatively. Fully aware of our various failures and faults, missteps and mishaps, needs and greeds, we attempt to enter the throne room through a side door hoping to be hardly noticed…often preferring to just stay in the corner…many times we are so rattled we don’t go in at all, preferring to wallow in our miserable neediness instead of “bothering” the Lord with our problems.
What causes us to hesitate and cower? Why do we fail to obey this verse? For if we hesitate and approach cautiously with great trepidation…we are indeed disobeying a command of our God which is as much of a sin as whatever we did in the first place that is keeping us at arm’s length from Jesus! Approaching Jesus boldly to find help is as much of a command as loving our neighbor as ourselves!
I think we fail to obey this command because we feel we have somehow disappointed Jesus because of our neediness and sin and, truth be told, many of us feel he would rather not spend the time with us. So instead of approaching with boldness to ask Jesus for forgiveness and help, we languish and linger and attempt to cover it up and “deal with it” on our own. This somehow seems more humble and self –effacing to us. However, at its core, this type of thinking is really incredibly arrogant and self-aggrandizing! At first hearing, this sounds strange to our ears because we feel we are being so penitent and humble. Yet, when we hesitate to approach Jesus we are assuming that, in and of ourselves, we have the ability to clean up our act and restore ourselves to a state of spiritual acceptability. “I’ll go to Jesus once I stop… drinking, cussing, gossiping, lying, visiting porn sites, holding grudges, worrying, spending more than I can afford, eating more than I should, seeking my worth and value in the eyes of others… ” Yet, the very reason the Holy Spirit inspired this verse, the very reason Jesus called us to approach him in this way is that we desperately need his mercy, his grace, and his help! Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing,” and one part of the “nothing” that we can’t do is clean up our act on our own. Yet, we somehow feel more deserving of his mercy and grace when we cower and at least make an attempt to remedy our problems on our own at first…what arrogance!
Our Lord knows the stuff of which we are made (dirt is not all that impressive) and when he saved us he already knew in advance what all of our failures would be. Even our own “righteousness” is like a filthy rag (I’ll let you do the research on that word!). Therefore, it is impossible for us to disappoint him. When he called us he committed himself to us for the long haul (Phil. 1:6) and, unlike marriage, his vow to us doesn’t even include a contingency dealing with the dissolution of the relationship upon death! If we have genuinely trusted him, we are his forever! Period! He already knows how much we will need his help as we stumble through this life. James, the Lord’s brother, informs us that we all will stumble and do stumble in many ways. Yet, how true the saying is: “He, who knows us best, loves us most!” …despite our missteps and mistakes. Young children with trustworthy parents immediately call out for help when they get into something they can’t handle. If they are approached by a large barking dog you can hear their cries for help from around the block! Why can’t we cry out to the Lord with the same boldness? Didn’t Jesus say something about having the faith of a child? That’s why Steve Brown says, “Cheer up, you’re much worse than you think you are!” It’s only as we embrace our complete inadequacy (we are worse than we think we are!) and His complete desire to help us with our inadequacies that we can truly be joyful…and experience the transformation that only God can produce in our lives.
I think the Accuser brings out his biggest guns and most potent weaponry for this battle. If he can keep us away from our Lord through his accusations then he will effectively incapacitate us spiritually. (“You messed up so badly, there is no way Jesus wants you anywhere near him.” “You better get your act together before you dare talk to Him. Who do you think you are anyway!” “You really blew that opportunity to share your faith…why don’t you just shut up from now on!” “Jesus is so disappointed by your lack of love, patience, follow through, prayer, scripture memory… ad nauseum, ad infinitum…that you would do better just to stay away from Him for awhile.” ) The Evil One knows, much better than we do, that our sole hope of victory comes through the help that only Jesus can give us and desires to give us if we would simply ask him.
So next time you are deeply aware of your brokenness and sin don’t listen to the Liar and don’t commit yet another sin by failing to come near to Jesus’ throne of grace – simply and boldly cry, “HELP!” He already knows you need it. He knew it before he created the earth and the stars. He’s just been waiting for you to ask!