November 17, 1999
God is on My Side!
by Marian Scheele
This observation that "God is on my side" will perhaps strike the average Christian as a rather obvious fact, eliciting a broad ho-hum, "What else is new?" response. But I have a deep suspicion that this would be only because they read it with the same dispassion they feel when they read Paul’s triumphant declaration in Romans: "If God is for us, who can be against us?" His words bring up pictures of storm-tossed, persecuted disciples, bigger than life, courageous and fearless as the Knights of the Round Table.


Somehow, rather than facing the enemy in the strength of the
Lord, we have gone far afield to the other side, and struggle
under the terrible fear that God is against us.

How is it that Paul exulted in his great assurance that God was for him, while we find it so difficult to accept the fact of his great love for us -- let alone His grand passion for us -- to succeed in this battle we fight? Do I really believe that He is, indeed, for me, cheering for me, greatly desiring that I succeed in each new step of faith that I so timidly take. Somehow, rather than facing the enemy in the strength of the Lord, we have gone far afield to the other side, and struggle under the terrible fear that God is against us. We see Him as a stern schoolmaster waiting for the right answer to be put on the blackboard. We are the sweating, anxious pupil, hoping against hope that we have somehow guessed the solution to the problem.

What has happened here? Oh, you foolish Christians, who has bewitched you? Who has taught you to be looking at your failures rather than looking at the Savior within? What we do not realize is that if we are constantly repenting of our sins, we are fighting a battle that has already been won. The amazing truth is that we are totally accepted in the Beloved, and that our only hope is to rest in His great and compassionate heart. He does not condemn us, but will cover our mistakes under His mercy. Our very breath of life is in this mercy.


What is our part in this? Our part is to be always listening,
always watching: simply being in His presence, so that we
are ready for the small things that trip us up.

When we slip and fall, we need only to look up, where we will see that tender smile, and hear the words, "It's all right, kidlet. I have that covered." And we breathe a prayer of thanks, as we take another step toward the "prize of the high calling," beckoning and twinkling and calling us to come up higher.

What is our part in this? Our part is to be always listening, always watching: simply being in His presence, so that we are ready for the small things that trip us up. Occasionally, large tragedies and sufferings overwhelm us, but subtle temptations can come as suddenly as a blast of wind whipping around a corner in downtown Chicago.

Not too long ago, my partial blindness caused me to stumble, and to experience once again the miracle of Jesus as the "catcher in the rye," keeping me from falling. As I was clearing off the counter between our family room and the kitchen, I picked up a plastic toy, one of those gruesome figures with strange, deadly weapons attached to their persons. Next to it lay what looked to be a piece of the plastic toy broken off. As I was about to throw them into a large toybox, I was led to put them gently down on the top of a toy truck standing nearby.

Some time later, I became aware that my grandson and his mother were searching for something he had misplaced, and it soon dawned on my consciousness that what they were looking for was his retainer, an expensive little piece of dental equipment that is worn after braces and enable orthodontists to live like kings.

"Oh, oh!" This was my silent but startled reaction to the real nature of the situation. Hastening to dispel my grandson’s frustration, I asked him, "What color was your retainer?"
"Black," he answered.

"Well, I think it is on top of this toy truck."

"I wonder how it got there. Matthew [my great-grandson] must have moved it."

Things were moving pretty quickly -- too quickly for me -- and I only had time to be thankful that I had been prevented from throwing the piece of "broken toy" across the room! This rather served to remove any objective view of the matter, and I left the room with a flurry of mixed feelings striving for consideration. My conversation with myself went something like this:

"You really should have told him that you moved the retainer."

"I know. But then there might have been some unpleasantness. No one will blame Matthew for a childish prank. And it's really not that important. So there is no need to change my story now."

"Still, you can’t leave it like this."

This small skirmish raged on in my head until, finally, some words from Oswald Chambers came ringing in like a clear bell: "Always do the hard thing."

And so I did the "hard thing" -- hard only in that it promised to embarrass my old nature. But I am not living in the old life, and God is "for me" (amazing thought!) because I am on His side and therefore in the privileged position of a beloved child, loved beyond measure even when painfully stumbling. When I confessed my thoughtless duplicity, all that my grandson said was, "No wonder you knew where my retainer was!"

How tragic that we have been deceived by a teaching that keeps us in bondage to the Law, all the while that it is written large in Scripture that the Law kills. If we wonder why we do not have the joy that is promised, we need look no further.

When I was explaining this to a friend, she gave a great sigh and said, "What a relief!" We had shared the common experience of growing up under the stern condemnation of a pastor, towering over us in the pulpit, looking, as we thought, into our very soul and condemning us with every wag of his finger.


When we fail, let us look into that adorable
face, take the hand that wipes away all tears,
and walk with Him in everlasting love.

What a terrible misunderstanding of God who longs to gather us under His wing like a mother hen, who understands that we are in the process of becoming like the One we worship. When we fail, let us look into that adorable face, take the hand that wipes away all tears, and walk with Him in everlasting love.

When we are standing at the blackboard, trembling and uncertain over a problem, be sure that if we will simply give an inward cry, He will take our hand and write the answer for us. We need desperately to give up the idea that we already know it. It was never intended that we should.

Instead of keeping a close watch on our sins, perhaps we should listen to Paul when he writes, "So there is now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus. For the power of the life-giving Spirit -- and this power is mine through Christ Jesus -- has freed me from the vicious circle of sin and death. We aren’t saved from sin's grasp by knowing the commandments of God, because we can't and don't keep them."

What could be plainer than this? Let us get a firm grip on this amazing truth. Then, when someone tells us to be always conscious of our sins, we can say, "I used to do that, but I always failed miserably. Now I am learning to be more and more conscious of my Savior and His illuminating presence in my heart."

In His presence is the place where I can rest, the place where His heart-stopping loveliness is revealed to me. I am learning to stay more and more in that place, so that when I stumble and fall, it is not a far journey to return there. In that place He comforts me and says, "Never mind, kidlet. I have that covered."
Marian McGrew Scheele, 1918-1999