Monday, October 16, 2006

Being Real

Why is it that I am, as if I were on some semblance of a set schedule, continually repeating in the same sins? It’s as if my Outlook calendar for life was set: often, Shalee will succumb to the same sins. Reoccurrence: forever.

I mean, it’s like I can’t even try on any NEW sin. I have to have my same old comfortable, well-worn, tried and true fall into disobedience.

When I go into the restaurant of wrongdoings, I don’t even need the menu because I know exactly what I’m going to order. And I usually leave feeling stuffed and full of regret of indulging in my favorite selection, the one I know will give me spiritual hives and indigestion when I partake of it, but I eat it anyway despite the reactions.

I feel such shame and stupidity, especially when I fall into the same transgressions. Why can not I learn from my past mistakes and truly throw off the tether of repetition? I know what I am doing is wrong. I am not deceiving myself that sometime in the past weeks God has rewritten his rules on living a holy life, that what I’m doing is suddenly okay. Yet, I live that way. I sin again and again as if I will not have the same feelings of disgrace and regret.

But here I am once again, begging God to forgive me for the same offense. Why should he forgive me when I usually wallow in the same waywardness? I’ve done nothing to deserve a second chance or, in my case, a 864, 202nd chance. (I’m sure it’s more. I’m low-balling the number to make myself look better. I can’t have you thinking that I sin ALL THE TIME. What would you truly think of me then?)

If I were God, I would have struck someone like me dead already. Or I would have sent a plague of mice to remind me that I’m hard-hearted. Or I would have sent a pack of clowns to my home to have them slap some sense into me. Or I would have said something like, “You made your bed; now lie in it.”

It is a good thing that I’m not God. That’s all I’m saying. Feel free to cheer; I won’t be offended at all.

But even as I am crying again over my lack of self-discipline, my fall from righteousness, my questioning of WHY am I here again, there is one redeeming thought that God places into my head and my heart:

He does forgive me because he is capable of so much more than I can imagine.

I truly cannot wrap my head around that kind of love. How can he wash my sins away again? Why is it that he fills my heart with peace when I’m bowing before him, begging for forgiveness? How is it that he can still love me, the sinner who has wondered away from his protection and who deserves no mercy?

The good news: I do not have to understand the how, the whys, the reasoning behind any of it. I do have to hold firm to the truth that God does it because he is God and he can. And he will. It’s what he has promised.

What a beloved thought! I don’t have to understand; I just have to believe. What a weight off of my shoulders. God is able to pardon the selfish, sinful me because he is not limited to my comprehension. He is full of more grace and love than I can even dream.

So as I am wrestling with my temptations, with my sins, with the things that are appealing but not of God, I ask that God give me the wisdom of how to change for HIS glory. I ask for him to strengthen me to make different, better choices when I am confronted with sin. I ask for him to remind me that I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

But if this fight with sin can be used to reflect his goodness, then let me talk openly about my struggles and how God is faithful in his protection. Let me not paint my past with excuses, but rather let me share the ugly stories with the sense that God is in control and that he is doing wonderful things despite me and my stupidity.

In other words, let me be real so that God can be seen in all that I do – the goodness that he has done through me at times of clinging to his ways and the times when I turned my back on his instructions.

Am I proud of my falling? Absolutely not! But I am proud in the most correct sense that God can use me through them.

And that is enough to get up me up to fight the good fight again.

Maybe the next time will be different. I pray that next time I face temptations, I will square off with them, remembering that I’ve got God in my corner and he packs a powerful punch.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. ~1 John 1:8-2:2

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