So it seems I get better at blogging when I’m at these conferences, and I’m guessing this will be no different. Today I’m in Louisville, Kentucky for this year’s Together for the Gospel conference, with thousands of other pastors from around the world.
It isn’t my first time here, so I’m excited, but not in the same way as I was when I came first. I am preparing to hear good preaching, to meet pastors, and to find good books to read, but there isn’t the same kind of tensed expectation.
For a conference, that’s not a bad thing, it’s just a conference. But this morning, as I do my morning devotions, I’m also struck by how perfunctory it can be in my life to actually meet with the living God. It should be a wonderful, glorious experience as I stand before God in the righteousness of His Son through prayer and reading the very word of God.
Yet I can find my mind wandering from that, to the breakfast I hope to have, and to the sunrise over the river in Louisville (which is admittedly beautiful). I can often allow my affections to terminate on the intermediate blessings, and forget the blesser (even as one of those blessings is to spend time with the blesser), or imagine that it’s because of something good in me that I have these great blessings, and forget God altogether. The people of Israel seem to have been prone to this, which is why God says in Deut 9:4a:
“Do not say in your heart, after the LORD your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,’
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Dt 9:4.
In context, it looks a little like God is seeking to dredge up old sins, just to make people feel under his thumb, but that isn’t what I think is happening. We really are stubborn people, and often quick to forget the great blessings we’ve been given. We find it far easier to gain short term immediate joy in things that don’t last instead of in the joy we’re promised in God. Our limited immediate circumstances can make us think things are better for us than they are, and that as a result, our blessings are only to be expected.
By God’s grace, my I recognize that grace today.