So I recently went through a pretty serious separation from a close friend and romantic interest. It's amazing though how looking back on it I see things so much clearer than I did when I was actually going through them. It's almost like I couldn't see the forest for the trees. Hinesight is 20/20 as they say. My friends have been telling me how much more stable and even restful I seem, and I actually agree with them (don't get me wrong. there is a certain sadness and mourning that comes, and I don't mean to downplay that). Two of my friends today have used the word toxic in reference to the relationship. Also, they both pointed out how I revert back to my normal self when that toxin is no longer there.
So, of course with my analytical and allegorical mindset, I started to relate the whole experience to quitting smoking. Firstly, despite how unhealthy and unattractive it is, most smokers can't give it up. You can tell them a million times that it's killing them and yet, their addiction usually stays with them. They can't refuse it. If and when they finally do decide to quit, the first few days (about 5) are absolute hell. They're beyond stressed and worn out. It impacts every part of their life for those few days. Here's the part I'm really interested in though. If that (now) ex-smoker has just one cigarette, the odds of him getting addicted again are tremendously high. Furthermore, his odds are higher than if some one who had never smoked before smoked one.
One more point. After a great amount of time (usually 1 year or more), the smoker can be around other smokers and control himself, even be fine.
I think this is a lot like sin. At first it may seem fun, attractive, and even addictive. We can get so stuck and so ruled by fear that we can't even see it for what it is anymore. It's killing us but we're blind. Then, if we ever do give it up and refuse it, the first few battles are the hardest to win. Once we've one them though, we experience part of the life of a conqueror. You can't however, ever return to that sin and expect to not be overwhelmed by it- or at least not until a lot of time has passed. It's like you're on the edge of a steep hill. Once you take one step, you're likely to fall all the way down.
How do we avoid falling down? Don't take the first step. What if you've already taken the first step? Find a brother or sister to help you up. Bring your sin to light, for sin can not dwell where light dwells. What if you're stuck in sin right now? Our God is an awesome God. A God of abundant grace and redemption. Seek Him in humility, confess your sins and ask for forgiveness, and get around people who will encourage and strengthen you. After all, even Jesus needed 12 men to keep His strength up.
I do pray that this entry finds you in good times and good spirits. If not, I have seen and firmly believe in the Master who sets slaves free, and in the Spirit whose perfect love casts out fear. If you'd like to meet them, ask me about it :)
Monday, February 13, 2012
It’s long been said and known that God is in direct opposition by comparison to the nature of man. Even most theists, deists, agnostics and atheists agree that if God does indeed exist, He is incomparably better than the world. Some of those people will use this very argument to conclude that God does not exist, or does but is very hands off about it. However, I’m not getting into that argument today.
My purpose in this entry is to give you another analogy or allegory that strives/attempts to express the amazing story of grace.
It has become a popularized idea that all religions worship the same God, and we’re all going to heaven but taking different paths to get there. It’s like God is at the top of the mountain, and each of us is hiking towards Him, each taking our own path to the top. Some of us have harder paths while others have easier paths. Some have longer paths while others have shorter paths. No matter how toilsome or rugged, a spirit of pride has told us we each deserve to get to heaven and we will.
Christianity completely disagrees with this concept. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me.” –Jesus
What if I told you that God, instead of you working your way to Him, worked His way toward you? Selah.
What if I told you that God’s compassion so strongly compels Him to save you that He, in humility, approaches you? What if I told you that it’s not based on anything you have ever done, and nothing you ever could or will do? “While we were yet still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Grace. In the beginning God created The Mountain. There were 3 men, 1 women, and 1 spirit in perfect harmony as God the Father created it to be. After some unkown time, the woman was deceived and fell down the mountain, and the man after her.
One important note- Before the fall , God had perfect plans, a Word that made man perfect, and in man was a spirit God created to be loved, to dwell in perfect love and harmony. It was not simply that you were created to be loved, but God had plans to be with you in eternal bliss, and after He lost you, He would do anything to get you back. When Adam and Eve fell, not only did they fall but so did all of mankind, and the Father grieved.
The only thing that could keep them from God was the exact thing they committed- sin. In agony indescribable and compassion unbearable, the Father upheld justice- that the punishment for sin is death.
Again, in perfect love, God sent His Son to the bottom of the mountain to remind us of who He is, and make a way for us to once again dwell in purity and holiness with Him. And that way was death, followed by a wonderful resurrection. This was also to symbolize our own death to sin, and resurrection through grace.
This is where our story begins. This is where we find that God is at the bottom of the mountain with an outstretched hand, motivated by love to ask you to take it and follow Him.
God does not see your sin and condemn you. He does not punish you in revoltion, but disciplines you in love. He is just. Love is here to bring us back to where we started, and that place is beautiful.