Originally published Wednesday, 13 January 2016.
Lately, I have been speaking one word over my family "Presence."
I have been telling myself:
"Don't let your mind wander."
"Stay active and involved."
"Pour out love."
"Give space for calm."
"Give your best."
My intentions are good, but the outcomes have been lousy. Days go haywire, accidents happen, kids scream, family irritates, pressures arise, crises happen, distractions lure, people call, I divert my attention, I get frustrated, I speak in a mean kind of way, I demand action, I get terribly afraid, I push people away and then I feel horrible.
I walk out of the day head down.
1,205,200 fails plus 1.
Jail cell number: 201 please.
I won't come out until I act better.
I won't return until I figure things out.
Each fail is another stripe added to my uniform of transgression. It is another weight that both declares who I am and what I cannot seem to do. It is another lash I add onto my back.
Have you ever done the same?
Have you ever confined yourself to a cell God never put you in?
Those who lean in to growth, often fall down into defeat.
Those who try, and try and try again are clay ducks for the devil. "Bang! Gotta stop her!"
Those who do bad, usually feel that they deserve punishment.
Those who walk into new, usually hit the barrier of old habits so they can climb over to freedom.
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Ro. 7:15
I am not alone.
If Paul didn't get his lousy behavior, I guess it gives me some permission not to get mine.
I guess it gives me some permission to say, "Agh! I hate that I do this. God help."
And God does, he helps with 6 truths like these:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 Jo. 1:9
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Ro. 5:8
If I confess, God suppresses my offense.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. Jo. 16:33
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus... Eph. 2:4-6
While it appears worldly transgressions stand over us,
we sit on - and over them - with Christ in the heavenlies.
But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Ps. 86:15
"Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love." Mi. 7:18
There is not a thing that can make God change a thing about his character.
He is who he is and who he is - slow to anger, abounding in love, faithful, steadfast, delighting in giving.
Even when we say: For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Ro. 7:15
Then, the neurons connect, the forces of truth collide and we realize something very powerful:
Paul didn't hate himself - he hated what he did.
Paul might have hated the act -
but didn't let that become a chance to react in complete defeat.
He didn't allow his injury to become his identity. Christ's blood was his permanent marking.
He didn't erase who God said he was. He acknowledged who he is prone to be - and do - without him.
He didn't throw down his uniform and give up his life - he made his jail cell an open door for the gospel to flow.
He didn't cast himself into punishment for his past transgressions, he claimed his grace and freedom in Christ.
Isn't God calling us to the same?
When we know who and whose we are, we live in a way where we nod at failure and move on to progress. We say, "I am not perfect, but I am growing. I am thinking about things that count, that are good, that are noble and trustworthy and valuable and right - and you know what, that is worth something."
Then we pray: God, I can't do anything without you. I can't find the first door to progress without your wind of help behind me. Come to my rescue. Lead me on. As if I am a blind baby, come, pick me up and take me to where you want me to go. Keep my self far and keep selflessness close, for then I know I will find my way. Thank you that you can't give up on me. Thank you that you will never abandon me to my self-confined chamber of torture - the one where I am mark myself convicted by my own mind. You are rescuer, redeemer and restorer. You are the remaker of old things and you do not despise new beginnings. I thank you. I serve you. May I forgive others as you forgive me. Amen.
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