April 23, Monday

The AMI QT Devotionals for April 23-25 are provided by Myra Huang. Myra, a graduate of Juilliard School (BA) and The Manhattan School of Music (M.A.), lives in NYC with her husband Ed Huang and two lovely daughters: Elie (9) and Abby (7). She has been a member of The Remnant Church since its inception in 1995. Myra travels the world performing concerts with opera singers.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Fear”

Ephesians 3:16-19 (NIV)

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

There are so many things we all fear: fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of loneliness, fear of uselessness, fear of not being smart.  In my mind, so many of our fears point to one underlying predominant fear:  the fear of not being loved.

I started piano at the age of 4, and my older brother started cello at the age of 6.  We were star prodigies in our small town of Portland, Oregon.  I won almost every competition I entered.  You can understand how my identity became cemented in winning—or at least in being successful. My parents had a very violent and tumultuous marriage, ending up with the police at our home a few times a year; but the one thing that brought them happiness was when I did well.  So I learned at an early age that if I did well, it would make my parents happy, and I would receive love.  My performance became my currency to obtain love.

As a concert pianist, I am constantly struggling with the performance mentality.  There’s a phrase in the business: “You’re only as good as your last performance.”  That’s a lot of pressure to live up to.  I have had to spend so much time in prayer surrendering my need to succeed, and to ask God to exchange my anxiety from fear of failure with the peace of knowing that I am loved just as I am.  Living with such anxiety is exhausting, and eventually leads to burn out.  I’m sure many of you can relate.

I am learning how to tend to my identity in Christ.  I’m learning how to make a habit of sitting before God doing nothing but resting in knowing that He loves me.  When I’m busy, I’m learning to release the tension of trying to prove my worth, and to rather lean on His presence and faithfulness.  Much of my prayer life has changed as well.  I spend more time in silence, just being with God and listening, rather than making my supplications. I am meditating on God’s love for me, not because of what I have done, but because He chose me and created me.  The fruit that is born of the Spirit becomes joy and peace.  Only then am I able to understand how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, so that I may live in step with the fullness of His presence.

So, today, I invite you to a time alone with God, to contemplate on all the marvelous things He has done and continues to do to show His unconditional acceptance of us.

Prayer: Father, thank you for times of solitude, for times of slowing down, and for a life that is something more than just merely performing.  Thank You for times to build into myself and the lives of others around me.  Help me to spend this precious time wisely and well. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Timothy 1


Lunch Break Study (Pastor Ryun)

Read Romans 15:7: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God; Luke 15:20: But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Based on how the father treated the prodigal son, what does it mean that Christ has accepted us?
  2. What is implied in the statement, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you”?
  3. Are you struggling with this issue? Is people’s approval of your performance very important to you? Identify one or two areas where you feel the most pressure to perform, and then write out a prayer to the Lord to surrender those areas to Him.

Notes

  1. The son had been clearly in the wrong, but his contrition or repentance was not a precondition for the father to have compassion for him and showering him with mercy (withholding the punishment he deserves).
  2. The premise of the command for us to accept one another unconditionally is precisely because we do the opposite, meaning we treat people well when they perform (e.g., performance bonus) and not so well when they don’t. Let’s be careful to avoid doing this, especially if we are parents of small children—because they catch on fast.
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

During the business of this day, did I stop to ponder and experience God’s approval of me today, simply because I am beloved in Christ?  Have I made time for resting in Him apart from any merit on my part?  Spend some time reflecting on these matters and ask God for strength to feel less pressure to perform.

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