Susannah Wesley, mother of John and Charles Wesley, long struggled with the concept of Justification (being made right with God, restoration to Him).
Her life, as was Charles’, was marked by a constant labor to appear in a positive light before God. It wasn’t until her seasoned sons came to an understanding of Justification and conversed with her about it, that she began to understand this truth of Scripture. She had led an exhausting life of effort to earn merit with God, and had passed this same mindset on to Charles.
Charles had spent grueling years as one of the very first missionaries to America, and the results were abysmal. It was in a deep depression and disenchantment of failure that God brought along his brother, John, who began teaching him a scandalous (at that time) doctrine of Justification and Grace. After much struggle to embrace this doctrine, Charles finally found the peace in God that he had been missing, and that his missionary efforts were starved of.
Susannah Wesley appears to have come to the same conclusion later in life. Take a look at one of her diary entries as she reflects a newfound pleasure and fulfillment in experiencing God:
Noon. ” To know God only as a philosopher; to have the most sublime and curious speculations concerning his essence, attributes, and providence; to be able to demonstrate his Being from all, or any, of the works of nature, and to discourse with the greatest propriety and eloquence, of his existence and operations will avail us nothing, unless at the same time we know him experimentally; unless the heart know him to be its supreme good, its only happiness; unless a man feel and acknowledge that he can find no repose, no peace, no joy, but in loving and being beloved by him, and does accordingly rest in him as the center of his being, the fountain of his pleasures, the origin of all virtue and goodness, his light, his life, his strength, his all; in a word, his Lord, his God. Thus let me ever know thee, O God!”
Some people only look for the easy path. Others, however, attribute difficulty and tedious labor to their standing with God. Is your Christianity marked by exhaustion and fatigue? We know that we can’t do anything to earn salvation. But, are you busy trying to earn God’s favor, affection, and blessing? Ephesians is repeatedly clear on the matter; if you are His child, you are so because of His kind affection which He lavishes on you.
If He is so generous with His love, why do we keep trying to earn it?