How Legalism Clouds Our View of Jesus

how legalism cloulds our view 2

 Welcome back to our series on sight. Today’s post is from Abby McDonald of Fearfully Made Mom.


It’s amazing what a simple tool can do to alter our vision and boost our confidence when learning a new skill.

For as long as I can remember, my oldest son has feared getting water in his face. He loved playing in it and being around it, but as soon as water got near his eyes he always panicked. Teaching him to swim had proven difficult. That is, until the grandparents purchased him a new swim mask while on a trip to the beach.

The change was remarkable. Within an hour of using the mask for the first time, he was jumping into the pool and swimming. Both things he had never done before.

With a little help, he was able to see things he’d never seen. He swam underwater, which is something I didn’t know if I’d ever see my child do.

I stood near the steps of the pool and praised God that our son had faced this fear and overcome it. He had new vision, and approached the water with a newfound confidence.

Watching him made me realize how many of us walk around for our entire lives blind. But we don’t need a swim mask or a new set of goggles. We need Jesus.

The problem is, we don’t realize our need. Perhaps we said the sinner’s prayer at a young age and attend church on Sunday, but we don’t truly know him. We don’t see ourselves as a child of the Most High and we spend our lives trying to attain something we can’t quite pinpoint.

For much of my life, I thought I knew God. I knew the stories. I could recite the tale of Daniel in the lion’s den and name all of the books of the New Testament from memory.

But my soul was far from Him. I tried to put on a righteous act and pretend, but in my heart I knew something was off. The problem was, I didn’t know what I was missing.

I felt like I was continually on the edge of deep water and afraid if I slipped or messed up, I would fall into the unknown. I’d fall to a place where I was far from God and his mercy.

My vision was bound by a legalistic view of Him and his church, and it seemed nothing I ever did seemed to be quite good enough. Because it wasn’t.

A gospel without grace is like cistern filled with holes. You may try to drink from it, but you won’t be satisfied.

For years I drank from the hole-filled cistern of legalism and wondered why I was never full, until one day God threw me a lifeline. I remember sitting on my couch and reading words drenched in grace, telling me of his unconditional love for me. My eyes wet with tears.

When we exchange our endless striving for God’s love for unreserved grace, it changes us.

Like my son seeing underwater for the first time, we have new vision. Instead of cowering like a child waiting to be beaten every time we make a mistake, we can stand before the throne with confidence, knowing we are approaching a loving Father who sees us not through our sin, but through the blood.

Instead of living life in fear, we can embrace the abundant life He promised. The life He came to give us.

Friend, Jesus didn’t allow himself to be nailed to a cross so that you’d walk around with the weight of legalism strapped to your back for the rest of your days.

He came to rescue you. To give you a life full of purpose and grace. Come into his Light today. Lay down your baggage and receive the gift you could never earn.


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Abby is a writer who can’t contain the love of a God who relentlessly pursues her, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

All We Like Sheep, Dust, & Grasshoppers

view God lift eyesWelcome back to our series on sight. Today’s post is by Angela Parlin from So Much Beauty in All This Chaos.

Sometimes we need to be reminded what’s true about ourselves.

The swirl and chaos of life leave an Out of Order sign on our insides. We forget. We simply lose sight.

We lose sight of what’s real and true and important. Our eyes fill up with what’s in front of us, whatever mountain we have to climb, the challenges we face. And so we need to remember we are God’s masterpieces, and He treasures us. He made us wonderfully and with intention. He wants us to draw near to Him.

By God’s own definition, we are wanted and chosen and so very loved.

But sometimes I wonder if we don’t need to be reminded more often who God is—instead of who we are. I sat in my corner chair-with-a-view this morning, looking out at the sky and the birds and the backyard trees, realizing the freedom I find in lifting my eyes to heaven.

When I fix my eyes on Jesus, I’m free from so many thoughts of me. From so many needs. So many desires. So many distractions.

The truth is, I don’t only need a better view of myself each day—I need a better view of God. I need to fill up with who He is, not only focus on who I am.

I need to think less of me, and more of Him.

I was reading Isaiah 40. In which the prophet compares human beings to a variety of things. Some are questionable. Isaiah continues to point back to God, but nothing comes close to comparing with Him.

We are like grass that withers, like flowers that fall. But the Word of the Lord will endure forever.

We are the flock He gathers in His arms. He is the Shepherd who carries us close to His heart, who gently leads those who have young.

We are only a drop in a bucket. We are dust on the scales, like unto nothing. But He holds the dust of the earth in a basket. He weighs the mountains on His scales.

He stretches out the heavens like a tent to live in. He blows on the rulers of this world, reducing them to nothing.

He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth. 

And from His view? We look like grasshoppers. Grasshoppers! Now that’s humbling. Which is really the point.

God is our incomparable Creator. His understanding is so far beyond ours. He even calls each of the stars by name.  He’s never exhausted, never weary. He is power and might. He’s the everlasting God, the amazing Creator of the ends of the earth.

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens.

Our lives tangle up in chaos, often. We stumble. We fight. We exhaust ourselves. We hope. We hurt. We pray. We seek help. We work hard. We lay low. We escape the chaos when given the chance.

But through it all, our Creator is near. He always loves. Always sees. He’s always just. Always right. Always giving. Always true. Always worth following. Always on the throne. Always worthy and awesome and incomparable. His beauty remains.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth…

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

(verses 28-29)

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens.

Because sometimes, we just need to be reminded of what’s real and true and important.

Angela ParlinAngela Parlin is Dan’s wife and Mom to 3 rowdy boys + 1 sweet girl. She spends as many days as possible at the beach, and loves to watch romantic comedies, organize closets, be with her people, and play with nature photography. But more than anything, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to all the beauty He weaves throughout the chaos of our lives. Join her at So Much Beauty in All This Chaos!

Don’t See Me

Don't See Me....


When our oldest daughter was a toddler, she had this special gift of going blind.  If she were to get in trouble, she would simply, shut her eyes.  In the midst of being reprimanded, she would peaceably close her eyes. Expressionless, she would take on a meditative stance.  It would make my husband crazy.

To add to the mayhem of parenting Maggie, if she were caught in the act of “badness” she would yelp, “Don’t see me!”  For example, I walked in and caught her coloring on the wall. She pointed her chubby pre-school finger at me and said, “Don’t see me!” And when that didn’t work, she closed her eyes and went to her “happy place.”


The mystery of sight and perception in children is both humorous and alarming.  Of course, Maggie was way past Jean Piaget’s stage of Object Permanence, which would have taken place at about 9 months of age. Piaget, a Swiss psychologist, was responsible for Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development. The theory was based on the evidence that a baby develops in stages of understanding.  It stemmed from the belief that cognitive development was progressive.  That a child grows in their understanding of their world based on experience.  At a young age a child hides his head under a blanket, in his youth he believes he has disappeared, clueless you can still see the rest of him.  According to Piaget, experience would reveal to the child that out of sight doesn’t mean non-existent.  Yes, away from peek-a-boo, Maggie, who was nearly three, was simply in denial.

It occurs to me, as silly as this seemed…  I am no different.

And I certainly am waaaay beyond the stage of development where I function in “out of sight out of existence.” Peek-a-boo makes no sense in a 44-year-old woman.

Still, I play.

I close my eyes and meditate when I know I am sinning.  I pretend… I watch television, or read, I don’t want to change.  I don’t want to hear the words: “Jami, this is wrong.”

With the voice of the Spirit drowned out sometimes, I get caught in the act.  And my reaction: “Don’t see me!”

My spirit’s eyes, my conscious, do not fall for my games. The eyes of my heart don’t want to disappoint my God. Changing the draw of my heart away from my folly and greed is a greater feat than pretending all is well, as long as I don’t look.  Alas, I can stick my head under the couch, with my full bare bum sticking out like a silly baby, still He sees me.

I would like to believe that my behavior could not disprove the great mind and life work of Jean Piaget.

I would love to know that I would learn from experiences, that I would progress.

I would love to see with fresh eyes, that to stay in the dark, to embrace the nonsense of closing my eyes to the truth, written on my soul… written in the Redeemers blood, would be to live a stagnant, immature, and life-draining existence.

He sees me. 

He knows me. 

He discerns my tricks.

 He recognizes the game. 

And so I pray, “Give me Your eyes Lord. Pour out a fresh vision of what this sin looks like to You… You, who died to save me from my drivel. Pry open that which I intend to keep slammed shut. Remove the scales from my eyes and let me bask in the glory of your truth. Let me do so without shade or reprieve. Let only light attack my pupils and warm my eyelids.  Drench me in the purity of Your holiness – let it heat my face, tint my cheeks, and fill me up with the grandness of truth.  See me.  And let me see You.” Amen

May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained.  Love, Jami

1 Samuel 12:16
Now then, stand still and see this great thing the LORD is about to do before your eyes!

Dearest Angela, thank you for having me today on your blog.  I am honored.  Your words encourage and bless. Embrace the rest, the recovery, and the peaceable place of being lead by Jesus Christ.  You are loved, admired, and needed.  Love, Jami

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Jami and her husband Justin live in Abilene, Texas with their (currently) seven children.  Their children range in age from 21 to 6 months. They active in the foster care program. Together they own a 640-acre ranch and they love to travel, wander, cook, and have a house full of college kids over for Sunday lunch. Jami has a Bachelor of Science degree in Family and Consumer Sciences from Abilene Christian University.  Her graduate degree is in Education, Counseling, and Human Development from Hardin-Simmons University.  Jami loves to speak, write, and participates in respite foster care.  Her first manuscript Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors inspired the name of her blog. You can find more of Jami and the lunacy she embraces in the pursuit of Jesus at or on Facebook or Twitter!

The Blessings Found in the Dark

If you strip away self

For the next few weeks, Angela will be hosting a series on sight. Various guest posters will visit her site to give her eyes time to recover.

Post by: Kelly Balarie

Angela, sweet Angela, cannot see things right now. Her doctor and her pained eyes both informed her that all screen time should be non-existant. Eyes closed, I can only imagine how Angela hopes to find relief, sweet relief, and answers, abundant answers. Perhaps, she wants to see everything in new light. I don’t know, but what I do know is that it pains me that I can’t do more for Angela. I can pray, though. You can too. We both can sympathize with her. We can ask God to intervene for her.

In the face of a blaring computer, I clenched my eyes shut this morning – tight.

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I wanted to see how Angela is seeing, I wanted to draw near to the idea that I don’t have to handle it all, that I can be like her – still. But, all the same, I found myself inclining towards doing.

“God, are you here?” I thought.

Like in life, something in me wanted to talk 100 miles a minute, something wanted to praise, to worship and push out things to him, like I always did. And, sure, there is nothing wrong with praise, worship and heartfelt sharing with God, but this time, he was calling me a different way.

“Kelly, just be with me.”

It was hardly a nudge, but much more like a gentle hand turning my shoulder inward, so I could look directly into his face. And, let me tell you all – this is where real gets real, my friends. Where flaws seem flawed. Where true faith gets apparent. It is much easier to keep God at an arms length through words, shows and distant praises. To let him see into you, without airs, without extra hide and without show-offy words. Wow, you suddenly realize God is really seeing you. You loosen up.

Have you ever considered ritual may keep you from relationship?

I think I often believe my performance will get me somewhere, as if God may finally say, “Wow, that Kelly, she really loves me well. I better love her well too.” Or, perhaps he might think, “She really knows how to pray. I gotta take care of her.”

But, he didn’t say that. He just said, “No Kelly, just be – in me.”

I relaxed or tried to at least – after about 10 attempts. But, finally, like a 130-pound weight in the center of a Tempur-Pedic bed, I sank down. Time after time, I pulled the leash of my stray mind back and kept my eyes on him, fighting – doing and claiming – being.

I let go of the endless demands. They waved goodbye to me. I let expectations fly by the wind. I just was. With open ears. A willing heart and a determination to keep getting back to Him.

What I heard was, “Kelly, when you just are, without pretenses, suddenly you realize that I AM, the I AM.”

Untitled design (80)And, my eyes opened. They could see…

When he is, I don’t have to be.

When I just lay down in his ways, he speaks to mine.

When I stop trying, I find myself relying on grace.

I felt like a blind girl with new sight. God doesn’t need my this and that and I will’s and I should’s and I will show you’s. No. He just wants me. Sometimes, he just wants me because he wants me to see that he loves me unbarred and unbelievably. He looks at me, but he doesn’t see the flaws, he sees his righteousness.

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He sees beloved shine out from my darkness.

So, I guess if there was one hope that I have for my dear friend Angela, with her eyes closed, it is this: I hope that she knows God looks at her as beloved, fully clothed in his righteousness. May she see how he adores her and says, “There she is. She is good and I love her.”

I hope she feels this. For it is not about seeing, doing or working, but it is solely about sitting – in his love.


God, I want you. I want you above the endless routes and plans of my mind. I want you to meet you at the intersection of my heart. I want you with all I am. Help me to let me move out of the way to let you come in. Help me be okay in front of you. Help me receive the fullness of your full. I don’t want to get in your way. You are great and you love me greatly. I want to be with you more. I love you. Amen.

Meditation Verses:

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Mt. 6:7

‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ Jer. 33:3

About Kelly

Kelly_2840Kelly Balarie is a cheerleader for the other gals. You know them. They are the ones fighting in faith, just like she is to stay with God. Through finding God’s encouragement, she simply shares it. It is just that simple.

For more words from Kelly, sign up to get all Kelly’s blog posts by email or visit her blog at You can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook.