Wow! It's soooo weird...my dad just got a phone call saying that one of my co-workers died, yesterday...it's kind of a shock...I mean, sure, he was 52 and stuff...but he was in really good shape...and I had talked to him on Thursday...he told me to have a good weekend...I said, "Yep. You, too." and smiled...and then, I come to find out that while he was at his Tae Kwon Do exhibition thingy (he really was in good shape)...he went up for a kick and was dead when he landed. *blinks* It's just weird to think about, I guess...I am still unsure as to how to respond exactly...I guess, I didn't really know him that well...I know that he was active in his church and I've heard him talk about his faith a bit...he sounded like he had faith in the resurrection...for that I am glad...I mean, I am happy to think that he is with Jesus...and I have only happy memories of him...he was always nice to me and helped me out...but did I show him that? Did I show my gratitude enough? Can you ever show your gratitude enough? It's one of those reminders to live out your love at all times...show others that you love them...show others that God loves them...*blinks back tears* It makes me feel so small and so inadequate...I don't know that I have shown all of my friends just how much I really do love them. I mean, I've told them that I do... but have I shown them? I would hate to leave them and have them wonder if I cared...
and it seems so simple in theory to rectify..."Live out your love for Christ"...I say it all the time...I say it to myself...to my Sunday school kids...but we all know how hard that can be...it's one of those battles that you always seem to be fighting...It's kind of like what Paul was talking about in Romans 7..."The Christian Struggle" as my Bible calls it...Paul goes on for about 18 verses...seemingly thinking on paper about the hardships of living your life for Christ. He first speaks on how the law pointed out our sinful ways...he says in verse 1 "...I had not known sin, but by the law; for I had not known lust, except the law had said ,Thou shalt not covet. " It's true...before you know and understand the law...it's quite easy to be self-rightous..."As long as my heart's in the right place," we say to ourselves...but later, we learn that "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions." It falls harshly upon our ears...we realize that "meaning well" isn't the same as doing good. As Paul puts it in verse 10, "And the commandments, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death."
The law shows us that try as we might, we don't measure up...and it's not because the law is bad, for Paul writes in verses 12 & 13 "Wherefore the law is holy and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become esceeding sinful."...so, it's not the law...it's sin, living in us...it makes it so hard...Paul writes in verses 14 & 15 "For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I." I know I can relate to that...I catch myself behaving in ways that I loathe...it's the feeling of, "I know what I should do...but I never seem to do it...I can keep some of the commandments most of the time...but that's not good enough...*frustrated frown*"...Paul elaborates on this point for several verses before articulating in verses 22&23 the root of our very frustration, "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man; But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivitiy to the law of sin which is in my members."
I've been pondering the truth to that, this weekend. It coincides with the chapter I just read in I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I was reading about guarding the heart and the pitfalls of infatuation, lust, and self-pity. I thought back and remembered the various times I've fallen into each of those traps in the recent past...those times when I felt lonely and knew God could ease my pain, but for some stupid reason, I looked for solace elsewhere. I dwelt upon those times when I caught myself daydreaming about the future...how my love story might be written, though I know that God will write one much more fabulous than any I could dream up...Sometimes, it seems I fail more than I succeed in my battle for purity. I want to be a godly woman so badly, but I know I keep screwing up...granted, my screwups aren't as great in magnitude as those of the past, but...God doesn't look at the size of our sins...he looks for our repentance...As I thought about all of my recent misadventures...all the times I'd tripped...all the times I'd slipped...I was beginning to feel as though I'd never reach my goals...
I remembered something that Dannah Gresh had said in her book And the Bride Wore White. She talked about purity being a journey, a path...the proverbial "straight and narrow", if you will...She talked about how we try to journey toward purity (purity being Christ-like)...but temptations always pop-up and trip us. However, when we call upon our Lord, He will come to our rescue and help us conquer that temptation, and as we journey, we come to know this better. We learn to recognize temptations more quickly and learn to be humble enough to call upon the Lord for help at the first sight of trouble, rather than waiting 'til we screw up. (I'm going to mix my metaphors here, a minute)...Asking for help like that reminds me of a story Joshua Harris told in I Kissed Dating Goodbye about a father passing along wisdom to the next generation and giving the young boy a nail puller. He told the boy that he had put that nail puller to good use. He remembered building a fence once and discovering it was crooked, but he figured that it would straighten itself out as he went, that there was no need to go pulling the nails...In the end, the problem just kept getting worse, and he had to take the whole fence apart and start over...If we ask our Lord to help us early on, we can get back on track faster and with less cost, as we won't have ventured as far away...but that requires humility. Now, back to the path...in journeying toward purity, I've found that I continue to struggle, but that I am learning to correct my mistakes sooner, minimizing the amount of wandering I do...and while I am glad to see I've made progress...I know I have so far to go...I mean, who likes knowing that they are always screwing up? Who likes reading scripture about how they should be living only to find that they can't seem to really live it out...we soon discover that we can't seem to keep all of the commandments all of the time...and while we are capable of keeping some of the commandments most of the time, that just isn't good enough...As I came face to face with my recent struggles...as I examined my heart and saw all my transgressions, I found myself crying out with Paul in verse 24 "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (His words sound a whole lot cooler...mine went more like, "Oh, God, my God...why do I continue to forsake you?!?! Who can help me change?"
Luckily, I was soon reminded of the answer to that very question. Verse 25 reads, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." The Grace granted us through the death of Jesus makes up for all of our shortcomings. Does it mean that we don't need to keep the commandments? No, by no means, but it does mean that by recognizing our shortcomings and confessing them to our Father, we can continue to abide in His merciful grace. How great God's love for us! He's saved me from the most certain death that my actions deserve...it's amazing! It's awesome! hehe :D It's amazing grace!!!!
Even with that reassurance, though, I found myself to still be wondering...What about when I stumble? When I fall? So, I went searching through my Bible, again...I found in Psalm 145:14 the answer "The Lord upholdeth all that fall and raiseth up all those that be bowed down." God never really let me fall, did He? He caught me, once again. He was there...just like He always is...Glory be to God forever for His amazing love his awesome mercy has saved me once again from the death that my sinful nature was carrying me toward. :') (nothing like tears of joy...*sigh* :) )
So, in all my rambling here, what have I really said? I don't know...as per usual...I was thinking as I wrote...so, I can only hope that it makes sense...what it boils down to in my mind, though is that God is great and merciful...if He weren't, I would be doomed, but it is by His grace and loving-kindness that I can sit here and prepare to pick up my cross and follow Him again. It's one of those Superchic[k] moments when you are getting back up, knowing very well that you just might fall, again. "...but I just have to try." So, to anyone reading this, May the Lord bless you with peace, courage, and strength as you endeavor to follow Him. May you find hope in His goodness and have faith in His love. Remember that God loves you more than anyone else ever could.
Praise be to God!