Whenever I used to hear sermons preached for those struggling to believe they’ve been fully forgiven, I zoned out. I’d think, “That used to be me, but not anymore!”
It’s always hard to admit sin publicly. I struggle with anger. I want to be open and honest about it. I hesitate for a moment in writing this blog because I am in leadership at my church. What will people think of me when I admit I struggle with this sin?
The Sea of Disobedience: An Allegory The first thing I heard was the wind whistling against me, so I thought,“I’ll sail slowly into this sea.”
As I completed a study of Exodus this past month, I was stunned by the many stories of people in the Bible confessing their belief in God and then quickly turning to an idol or to their own way. I am reminded of my own broken, messy story that gets messier when I listen to the world rather than to God or when I choose what is easy over what is right in God’s eyes. When I, or you, do that, we are intentionally falling away from our Great Redeemer and the Overseer of our souls.
He looked at me with glassy eyes. As if it had taken him away from me. As if it stripped him of anything that made him human. He laid back down and began to breathe deeply and quickly as if the room was depleted of air. He didn’t respond before, but the light had left his eyes now. Then a shiver came, then a shake, then came the tempest. His chest raised as if his spirit was being violently removed from his body. Body and spirit so tightly interwoven that the lift of his chest revealed his body’s resistance to his spirit stretching towards heaven without it. In all this breath…. and shake… and groaning… he never appeared to me less alive. Then the question: “What have I done?”
I am a daydreamer. I daydream all the time—in the car, as I am about to fall asleep, as I clean, and, admittedly, in mid-conversation.
“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29 NIV) When I read through these verses a couple weeks ago, one phrase resonated with me: despised things. “Despised things” in this verse refers to the things this world despises but God uses for His glory.
Okay, I just have to say upfront that the Bible uses some intense language and is pretty scandalous! It’s not necessarily the G-rated Bible you may have learned about in Sunday School. It’s full of stories of scandal: drunkenness, murder, sex, hunger for power, betrayal. On top of that, the Old Testament over and over again asserts that God’s people have acted like the “whore,” “prostitute” or “harlot”. Yes, the Bible actually uses those words! Just FYI, those are really strong – and accurate – words. They are scandalous words to describe a scandalous people.
They say, “comparison is the thief of joy.” I’ve been hearing this quote all over the place recently and it’s no wonder why – God is trying to teach me something… isn’t it funny how he does that?