It’s interesting to me how I can look back at struggles I used to have, ones that consumed me, that no longer phase me. I can point to people I had problems with, sins that used to grip me, and say wow I don’t even have a taste for these things.I remember praying about these things, that God would come and renew my mind. I hated those sins. I was ashamed of those sins. And even more so I fell into the trap of guilt that keep me in the cycle of inadequacy. I felt like I was a disappointment to God, as I grasped for anything to pull me out.
What I don’t remember is when it all changed. It was not in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye. There was nothing I could do to pinpoint some great revelation that allowed me to be more Christlike. I certainly didn’t learn to pray harder or read my bible more. If anything there were great periods of time where in I lacked devotion. So then what happened? Why do I remember being trapped by these sins as if it were a distant dream? It is like looking back on a life I used to live. How did I get out?
I am reminded of this scripture in Philippians 2:12-13.
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
Many people read the first part of this verse “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”and stop there. They build a doctrine of work in which man toils and toils to revitalize his life, to become more Christlike. This is a doctrine in which you conquer your sin by attending church as much as possible, memorizing scriptures as much as possible, serving others and much as possible with a hope that your work will change you. While these things are good, no doubt, they must be read in the context of the later part of this passage, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
There is a reason I don’t remember what I did to free myself from those sins, it because it wasn’t anything I did, God did it! There is a reason that it didn’t feel like making up my mind to walk a different way. Rather I can liken, the feeling of releasing these sins, to the moment when you stop fighting a current. The moment your body goes limp, you float, you follow and somehow you are safe.
God worked, is working, and will continue to work in me. The scripture says he is working in me on two accounts, 1: to will (to have the desire to do so) and 2: to act (to actually accomplish what is set before me). This is particularly good news because it is in my nature to be undisciplined and apathetic. The more I try to change the more I fail, the more I fail the less I try.
But there is something magical at work in my life, my own will giving way to the current of the Almighty God. I wrote this because I am struggling with a sin cycle once more. I cannot seem to get it right. When I let my guard down it pops back up again. I am communing with sisters in Christ, reading my bible, seeking godly counsel but I feel stuck.
I lament and wonder if it will always be this way. But I reminded again of God’s gentle hand pulling me into the safety of his flow. Lord help me abide in you ever more…