I love to make a plan and follow it when it suits me.
I know God gives us a heart and a mind and gives us inclinations and all that. But that doesn’t mean all my intentions are good, proper, godly, or pure.
There may not even be a problem with the way I want to go — so much in life is pretty open ended. I can choose this or that and it doesn’t matter. But when I have invested my time and energy on a certain path and it is clear it is not the way to go, well, sometimes I don’t want to give it up. I want my own way.
Instead of behaving like a two year old in the midst of a tantrum, I try to hand over to God that thing I am holding onto so tightly. Insisting on my own way may not be in my best interest.
I can trust God with my dreams, hopes, and fears. After all, He is the Creator. He knows my needs and provides for me!
They say “Confession is good for the soul!” I believe it! And it is a biblical concept.
Getting the dirty stuff of our thoughts and actions out in the open through confession allows the light and healthy air get to it. If it is left in the dark, it festers and grows. When we choose to remain in “the dark” our countenance changes — we get suspicious of others and our selfishness increases.
Confession is great but even better is when we can have confession and absolution — the formal release from our guilt. When we hear the forgiveness we are so desperate for, it sets us free. We may never hear it from the one we directly offended and while that is restorative, it isn’t a requirement. Confessing to one another is a part of healing. Confessing to God and receiving His forgiveness is life giving.
Humility is one of the pieces to confession. Arrogance has no place. And if I ever decide to withhold forgiveness, I only need to go as far as myself and my sins and it will cut me short. Who am I to withhold forgiveness? A closer look at my own attitude toward forgiving others says a lot about my relationship with God.
Healing is the goal. Maybe walking through the process of needing to forgive another is how God helps us understand the process for forgiving ourselves!
There have been many times I have asked myself this question, particularly as I was analyzing a challenging moment in my life like a:
sick feeling in my gut
Can you relate? Are you where you want to be? Do you have any thoughts on why you are where you are? Are there things you want or need to change?
Sometimes I ran to the unfortunate places I have gone. Sometimes it was a little “indiscretion” that was a tiny step by tiny step progression until I landed squarely where I ended up. On occasion it was someone who seemed healthy or trustworthy who influenced my path but I continued the journey as I worked my way through some distorted understanding of myself and the world. Unchecked emotions or behavior has led me to difficult places. And sometimes it took a long while to extricate myself from those spots.
Changing bad habits is difficult and demanding work. I know because I have worked on a few in my day. If you find yourself in a place you wish you were not you might want to incorporate a few of the following ideas:
Take an honest look at your situation.
Confess your issues to God and ask for His help
Find a healthy accountability partner with whom you can be completely honest
Visit with your pastor
Join a support group
This may sound crazy but there are times when others may not be supportive while you work on your bad behavior. Others close to you might not be happy with efforts and they may actually try to sabotage your progress but keep moving to a healthier place.
We are all in process. We all have things to work on. Some of it is big stuff and some of it is fine-tuning some little stuff. If you have ever worked on a big thing please have compassion on those who are in the middle of their big project. You likely are able to offer some hope to someone just beginning his/her journey of change. A little encouragement can go a long way for someone who is downtrodden by the weight of his/her sin and the consequences of bad choices.
We have had a bit of a taste of beautiful weather in southern Indiana the last couple of days and it is a welcome reprieve to our winter, in my opinion. There are some seasons that last a bit too long for me. Maybe it is the cold, maybe it is the requirement of bundling up, maybe it is the shorter days or lack of sunshine, maybe I am just getting old but after about eight weeks of winter, I am done.
I have noticed my faith seems to have seasons, as well. Does yours? Sometimes it is obvious the Holy Spirit is growing in me a deeper understanding and trust of God. Other times I feel as though I am resting in His grace and basking in His love. And still other times are situations of harvest.
And then those times when it appears not much is happening.
It could be I am distracted, depressed, disturbed, or disconnected from God and the body of believers. It could be that I am smack in the middle of a season of rebelliousness and unconfessed sin.
Sin always drives a wedge between us and God. Sin causes growth to stop and eventually we find we are a branch that dries up, a faith that almost withers away.
1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers, 2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night. 3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers. Psalm 1: 1-3
Lord, help me to be connected to you. When my faith seems to be withering, keep me accountable as well as encouraged to move forward by putting my trust in You!
“Sin will take you farther than you ever intended to stray, It will keep you longer than you ever intended to stay and cost you more than you ever intended to pay.” Author unknown
Have you ever found yourself in a frustrating place of sin and thought back to when that particular stronghold may have started? Definitely a sobering thought. Recently we had a local school principal arrested for shoplifting at Kohl’s. She was in her early 50’s. There was a lot of newspaper television coverage and she no longer works as a principal. Wow. Who knows when that all started for her. This sin took her on an ugly journey.
Sin is just like that. We justify and rationalize our behavior and get defensive when it is brought to our attention. But later we find ourselves repeating that same stinkin’ scenario over and over again and trying to get free from the grip of sin. What can we do? Here are some actions that can help:
Have an accountability partner
Surround yourself with Scripture
Change your scenery or routine
Be open to insight from more seasoned Christians who may have the ability to see you are headed down a dangerous path. Sometimes those rebukes come from someone who has walked a similar road and desires to save you from the pain and consequences they experienced. Sometimes we are so blind to current or future consequences of our sin that we are shocked when a concerned friend brings forth a warning. Be approachable.
As long as we are human we will have setbacks. Will you allow a setback to give you an excuse to go further down a dangerous path or will you allow it to help you see your vulnerabilities and give you the chutzpah to forge through temptation the next time?
I love how I can relate to it–even when the imagery makes me laugh. And His Spirit convicts me.
1 I said, “I will watch my ways
and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth
as long as the wicked are in my presence.” Psalm 39
Oh the many days I should have done that.
I also think it is amazing when I am in the midst of the conviction process and things that don’t actually point to my sin point me to my sin. It is almost as if I am being boxed in until I really come to see it and confess and turn away from it. God may use Scripture but He is not limited to getting our attention that way. I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and God’s care for me.
Lord, there are so many times that I sin with my words without even thinking beyond the moment. Help me to consider my words before they are spoken. Give me Your wisdom in conversation and Your insight into my various relationships. Help all I say and do reflect You and Your glory. In Your Son’s Name, Amen.