So like I said, I’m new to this whole blogging thing. I have no idea how often the average blogger blogs, or how much will be too much; then again, I already said that the purpose if this is for me and not my readers. It’s been two weeks since I made my first post, and I realized something: that’s too long. Especially since this is supposed to be all about accountability. If I go two weeks – heck, if I go two days – without reporting in, it will more or less negate what I am hoping this venture will do. So here’s the conclusion I’ve come to: I need to post an update daily. Otherwise I will fall back into the same old patterns that I am desperate to change. They (anyone other than me ever wonder just who ‘they’ are, anyway?) say that it takes 30 days to break a habit. Logic dictates that the breaking of a bad habit naturally results in the creation of a new habit in its place; therefore, in a focused effort to create a new, healthy habit, I plan to drop by and post an update a day beginning today and going through the entire month of February. Truly, I hope that you will stick with me – whoever you are. I really am looking for people to hold my feet to the flame because scripture is clear: our works will be tried by fire, and all that is in vain will be burned away (1 Corinthians 3:11-13).
Now that I have gotten that out of the way, I suppose it’s time to get down to brass tacks. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. No doubt it will blow your mind, offend your senses, and totally change your opinion of me, but that’s OK; it needs to be said. here goes: I’m a failure. That’s right. I have failed – and before I even managed to really get started, too. I want to please God. I want to submit myself to His calling, and to yield my will to His, but every time push comes to shove, I shove. HARD. I confess that I am the poster child for… I was going to say a rebellious spirit, but that’s disingenuous. The reality is, I’m the poster child for defiance. Because when you know what it is that your parent – biological or heavenly – is asking of you and you go out of your way to resist/ignore the direction, it’s more than simple rebellion. Are you disappointed in me yet? Because let me tell you, I am beyond ashamed.
But I realized today that that is the enemy’s plan.
See, the longer we run from God, the easier it is to run from God. Not that we can actually run away from Him; trying to flee the presence of God is like trying to flee from oxygen: it surrounds us. But we distance ourselves spiritually and emotionally. I know without a doubt that I do it daily. I stop spending time in focused, intentional relationship with Him. I stop opening His word. I stop praying. Dear God! I am so guilty of the sin of prayerlessness! And the longer I avoid my God and all the places, people, and things that are associated with Him, the harder it gets for me to humble myself enough to go crawling back into His presence. As I said, that is the enemy’s plan. I open a door, and his insidious voice creeps in and tells me that I can do it on my own, or that God really doesn’t want me to do ______, or that I can do ______ my way. And stupid me, I listen. And then comes the guilt – that anguish of knowing that I have failed once again. Which opens that door wider, so that now Satan has a foot in there, and is actually starting to push, telling me now that there’s no point in trying to fix it. ‘You’ve already failed,’ he says. ‘Do you really think you can go and ask Him to forgive you, knowing darn well you’re just gonna do the same thing tomorrow?’ he needles, ‘Why bother? God knows you’re just going to drop the ball again. How many times do you think He’s going to put up with an incompetent fool like you before He refuses to let you back, anyway? Before He realizes you’re not worth it?’ And stupid me, I listen. (And did you know that what that guilt trip is really doing is building up our PRIDE? I mean, really: who am I to think that I’m so bad that God won’t want to forgive me? Talk about an over-inflated sense of self!)
So I stay away. And move further away. And the further I go from His presence, the more miserable I become. What’s really sad is that too often I am content to stay in my misery! Don’t get me wrong; I do not enjoy it. And I am immensely grateful for the misery, because it is confirmation of the Holy Spirit living in me. Not only is it impossible to flee from an omnipresent God, but as a child of the King, I cannot escape His physical presence, either. He has sealed my adoption with His very self indwelling me! And He cannot abide the presence of sin. The result of trying to force sin into God’s space in my life is that I become completely miserable. Because while we are certainly free to suppress the Holy Spirit in our lives, He is not going stand there quietly as we sin. No, He will not let us be comfortable in our willful disobedience! But I confess that until now, I have been content to be miserable.
Sin in the presence of God. One of these days, it will be no more (can i get an AMEN?) But do I really have to wait until eternity to experience life without the presence of sin? In Matthew 5, Jesus tells the Pharisees, ‘therefore, be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.’ Isn’t this impossible for us in this life? Or am I just fooling myself? Here are the biblical truths that I know:
1) God created Adam as a perfect being (Genesis 1)
2) Adam disobeyed God and sin entered the world (Genesis 3; Romans 5)
3) The consequence of sin is death – not merely physically, but also spiritually (Genesis 1; Genesis 3; pretty much the first 11 chapters of Romans…)
4) Jesus was not born of Adam, but of the virgin Mary through the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 7; Matthew 1; Luke 1)
5) Jesus didn’t sin (Hebrews 4)
6) Jesus said that only those who have been reborn can see the Kingdom of God (John 3)
7) The same Spirit that brought about the birth of the Christ is the One who brings about the rebirth of our own spirit (John 3; 1 Corinthians 15; Ephesians 2; Colossians 3; 1 Peter 3)
8) With God, ALL things are possible (Matthew 19; Mark 9)
By now you may see where I’m headed, and it’s OK if you think I’m crazy. Heck, I think I’m crazy, but I cannot deny what I believe that God is asking of me. I am convinced (and convicted; I have the misery to prove it) that God is asking me to test Him and see if, in Him, it is possible to ‘go and sin no more’. And I am scared to death (well, not really DEATH, but you get the idea) to do it. Scared that He is going to ask me to surrender things I don’t want to; scared that the journey is going to be long and painful; scared that I’m going to fail – which is really funny, because I know that I’m going to stumble if I try to do this in my own power. Which really means that what I’m truly afraid of is a) that I can’t trust God to do this FOR me, and/or b) I will continue to let fear prevent me from yielding (the illusion of) control.
This is going to be a completely new experience for me. I realize that I am going to have to un-clench my fists hourly so that I don’t try to wrest control from Him. It is going to be a constant battle that can only be won by vigilant prayer and deepening roots in Him. And truth be told, I am kind of excited to see where this journey is going to end up. (Which reminds me of another ugly truth I have discovered about myself: I am a true-to-the-core, gratify-me-NOW American; I want the blessings that God has in store for me, but I don’t want to have to do the work required to obtain them. Like the masses of my generation, I was raised on a diet of ‘Have it your way’, ‘You deserve it’, and ‘Why wait? Get it now!’ ad campaigns. And it makes me ill to see just how deeply entrenched that mind-set is in me…) What I do know is that God has promised that the end result – no matter what happens in this life – is His absolute best for me; that whatever He asks me to surrender now is going to be replaced with something even better (even if it is less), because He knows exactly what I need. So I pray that I will find my hope, my peace, my contentment, and my delight in Him. That I will moment by moment surrender to His will. And that I will soon be able to say with absolute honesty that it is WELL with my soul! See you tomorrow.