So I haven't written anything new because I didn't feel ready to. I am going to confess to you all that I have been going through a lazy season in my walk with Christ. And I can't explain why, or give any excuse. I just know that I can't write something I'm not sure I believe in myself, and I was experiencing doubt.
Doubt is such a scary thing. The "what ifs" that come up in our walk with Christ are really extreme questions. But I know now that because I went through this season, I am now that much MORE confident of God's unfailing love, and His determination to complete the work He started in my life so very long ago.
I wanted to share with you what God taught me through this season. I prayed a while back that God would allow me to understand just how much I need Him. I'm not saying I will ever truly get it, but I wanted to renewed appreciation for my need for Christ. We pray things like that, and then we sometimes forget, but God doesn't. And God will ALWAYS answer our prayers for Him to show us our need for Him!
We sing the songs that say "break me Lord." But do we really understand what we're asking? No one falls and breaks a bone and says "oh, that was fun!" No! We fall and get hurt and say, "How did that happen? What did I do to fall like that?" We pray for God to break us, then we're surprised when He does.
I had a teacher once tell our class that if someone is saved, and then sins, chances are he wasn't saved to begin with... I've since learned that that is ludicrous, but the thought still remains in my mind. It is understood that when we accept Christ, He takes up residence in our hearts and that begins to change us. But to believe that it means an overnight change to perfection is to set yourself up for failure and a tiresome cycle that will get you nowhere. We are saved by our Redemption, but we are being saved daily via Sanctification... Both are needed.
Why? Are we saved for Heaven, just in case we die before we're perfect? Of course not! That would mean God doesn't know when we're going to die. Rest assured, nothing happens that takes God by surprise. Nothing happens that leaves Jesus going "woah...did you see that? I didn't see THAT sin coming...I'm not sure I died for THAT one....oops."
The mere thought would be laughable, if it wasn't so heart-breakingly common. We run with the belief that if we are saved we will be perfect...therefore if we aren't perfect, we must not be saved. But this is SO flawed! We are seen as perfect in God's eyes when we realize that Christ is the only way we can be saved. When God is looking at us, He sees us as perfect because He sees His own Son. We see the now, He sees the end result. How beautiful is that!
And yet we fall into habitual sins. It is these sins, not the oops-I-didn't-think-first-kinds, but rather the addictions, the habits, the ones we struggle with daily (be they anger mis-management, inappropriate films or music, over-eating, lustful thoughts, laziness, anxiety...choose your poison), that make us question whether or not we are saved.
But my recent visit back to my past life (previous struggles that made a re-appearance) taught me a few things about what happens when we open our lives up to sin (I also have to give some credit for some of what I will say here to last night's metamorphosis lesson).
Before I continue, I want to make it clear. I do not believe God makes us sin just so we can see our need for Him. He hates sin...why would he compel us to do that which He hates? It's not a making...but rather an allowing...When I prayed for God to break me, I didn't know I'd fall into my old sin patterns....but He did, and He knew that He would be able to use that backsliding season for my eventual benefit and to further His will in my life. So, God does not MAKE us sin (nor does the devil..."the devil made me do it" is just as ridiculous as saying "God made me do it"...we make our own decisions...free will, remember?)
Now, back to what I wanted to say:
When we open our lives up to sin, we also open our lives up to the father of lies.
He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.(John 8:44b)
When we decide to start listening to satan, he takes his cue and starts filling our minds with lies. Lies about anything and everything. We don't even notice it... then he lowers the boom. "If I were saved, I wouldn't be doing this....so since I'm still struggling with this, I must not be saved." It sounds like a logical statement... philosophical at best. But it turns into a fear in our hearts that, maybe we're not saved!!!
Think of when you were a little child in the grocery store. You wandered off because something looked more interesting than following your parents...and suddenly you look aroubnd and realize, "mom's not there! I'm alone! I don't know where I am! I must find her!!!"
So it is with the child of God who has wandered away. We look around and realize we're alone. And the lies kick into overdrive, "look at you, yeah you're alone because God left you. He gave up on you because you messed up just one too many times. Just give it up, you're never going to be what God wants you to be."
But all we have to do is turn around...God is right there, waiting for us to run back into His arms. Rest assured, there will be scolding involved. But it is a scolding that leads to our own healing. It is just like when we found our moms in the store... she scolded us for running away, but while we are sorry we ran off, the joy of being back with our moms outweighed the scolding we were receiving. And now that many of you are moms (and even I felt this at times when my brother as a baby would run off for even a moment), you know that while you were scolding your child, your joy and relief to have them safe and back with you outweighed your anger at them for leaving. Your scolding comes from your desire to never go through the pain again and for your child to never have to be afraid and alone like that again.
God is the same way. He longs for us to remain in Him.
"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love." John 15:9
This doesn't mean that when we wander, we lose our salvation. It does mean that there are consequences for our actions, both good and bad. And we can all attest to just how severe those consequences can be. But we have something those who are outside of Christ don't have. We have our Father, waiting for us to turn around and come back. And when we do, He will never turn us away. He will welcome us with open arms.
"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.
"The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.
"But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:20b-24)
This is how God is with us when we come back to Him. It is a beautiful celebration. A wonderful reunion of Father and child.
And the greatest part of all, is when we have the courage to be honest with eachother and share our struggles and fears and concerns, as well as the truths God has laid on our hearts. With that, I hope and pray that this blesses you. Whether it does or not, I still consider this season worth the pain for me to come out even closer to my Jesus.