Monday, October 27, 2014

Sin have you tripped up again?

Obedience is kind of a two-sided coin.  One side demands we participate in some course of action, while the other requires something we simply don't possess in order to be successful at it.  We are asked to participate - yielding our will (want to) in order to move into the "position" of obedience.  It is like when a runner puts his feet squarely in the block at the starting line and is ready in anticipation of the starter's gun.  The runner is all ready to respond - he is just waiting for the signal to move.  Sometimes we face obedience in quite this manner - waiting to move - but "at the ready".  The runner has some decisions to make in making the run, though.  He must decide if he will run as he wills, or if he will listen to the coaching of one who can observe the entire pack of runners.  When he relies upon the coaching of the one who sees the entire pack of runner, he is more able to adjust his pace so he won't burn out in the run.  Obedience is kind of like that - we might just burn out on the run if we don't have an accurate pace-setter in our lives!

Turn your eyes from my sin and cover my guilt.  Create pure thoughts in me and make me faithful again.  Don’t chase me away from you or take your Holy Spirit away from me.  Make me as happy as you did when you saved me; make me want to obey!  (Psalm 51:9-12 CEV)

Sin has been with us since birth, so none of us escapes the tugs and pulls of a nature which demands its own way.  We are succumb to the nature within at some point or another, despite our upbringing to the contrary.  Even with good parenting, kids choose to do things which are clearly "not right".  They sneak a cookie from the cookie jar, watch shows when their parents aren't home that they would never watch when they were, and associate with kids outside of the "comfort zone" their parents would want them to remain in.  Why?  We have our own will and it often wants to go its own way!  

Since sin has been with us a long, long time, we might as well admit we don't have much success in managing it!  The tugs and pulls are something we ALL struggle with at one time or another.  We find ourselves just floundering in the midst of indecision at times, while at others we plunge headlong into stuff we know better than to do.  The loudest voice, or the most frequent focus gets our attention - despite our "intent" to do otherwise.  This is the struggle Paul wrote about in his letter to the Roman church (Romans 7).  There is this 'conflict' of sorts within that just keeps us in a "muddle".

So, how we strive toward obedience does matter, but "getting to" obedience is something most of us struggle with for the remainder of our lives.  If we conclude obedience is a two-sided coin, one side fully under our control and the other requiring another to assist, then we might actually come a little closer to "lasting" obedience in our lives.  When we realize our desire to be obedient is nothing apart from God's help to actually give us the "drive" toward obedience, then we come to the place where obedience can begin to be the norm and not the occasional success!

Knowing that we ALL sin, we need to deal with this overwhelming sense of failure whenever we don't do so well at avoiding it.  Whatever your sin, most of us struggle with pretty similar things, just manifesting a little differently in our lives.  For example, if we struggle with a root of bitterness, some may manifest this in withdrawing from relationships, while others want to retaliate at every turn of the corner.  The root is consistent - the outward show is different.  Sin is sin - no "degree" of sin exists.  When we fail to do as we know we should do, we need forgiveness.  One thing is also true about forgiveness - it is available to all who would ask.

No sin is without guilt.  When we don't "do" right, we "feel" wrong.  When we feel wrong, we think the only way to "feel right" again is to do something differently the next time.  Being the creative beings we are, we set out to form some elaborate scheme which might keeps us from doing the same thing the next time.  What we neglect to recognize is that until our "wiring" is changed, we will always revert to what we have done in the past, despite our best of intentions.  Rewiring is what the Holy Spirit does within us.  He redirects the "current" of our minds and hearts, so that there is a little "oomph" behind out intent the next time.

We may not get it right the first through tenth times, but in leaning into the one who will help to put a little "drive" behind our good intent, we are setting ourselves up to be more successful the eleventh!  Just sayin!

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