Do you ever get so sick of yourself that you could just scream? No? Just me? (Gotta admit, this character-blogging-in-obedience gig isn't always a picnic - I so often have to write about the stuff I'd rather just keep to myself...) So, you're going along, minding your own business, living your life. You think you're making progress, you're not the person you once were, things are beginning to change and WHOMP! From out of the blue, you get knocked down, turned around, defeated, deflated, back to where you started, or even farther back...I guess I should just chalk it up to being human and move on. But I can't seem to do that; there's something in me that wants to wallow in it, to throw a pity party, to punish and mock myself and mourn my fall from grace...
So I finish writing the paragraph above, wondering where in the world God wants me to go with this, and into my mind pops one of my lie-countering Scriptures (small victory right there!): "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1) Today, this tells me that I have no right to condemn myself for anything whatsoever, not even the aforementioned fall. But I'm curious - whenever there's a "therefore" in a verse, I need to know what comes before to really understand where it's coming from. So, I check out Romans 7, and re-discover one of Paul's most encouraging and entertaining (in my opinion) dialogues; the "I do what I don't want to do and what I want to do I can't" bit (always reminds me a little of the old "Who's On First" skit). His conclusion in it all? "Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!"(v.25) Because of Jesus' life and death and new life, I have been set free from having to be a slave to all that stuff that holds me back and drags me down. Now to live like I'm free - that's the goal! It's almost comical to picture it: the heavy chains that once held me captive have fallen off, and here I am, running back and insisting on carrying them around! Well, they're familiar, even though they hurt. Moving forward into new territory is always a little scary; it's very tempting, comforting even, to run back to the familiar rather than blazing new trails into the unknown.
Paul also mentions the work of the Holy Spirit in this battle for freedom. He contrasts living according to the desires of the flesh (that's the sin-bondage) with being empowered by the Spirit to live according to what the Spirit (or God, you know, the whole three-in-one thing) desires. I very much needed to be reminded again that I can't do this alone - why do I even try? Thanks be to God, I have another option! And when I choose to let the Holy Spirit lead me and guide me and instruct me, Paul says that I can be MORE than a conqueror! That's very strong language - we're not just conquerors, but even MORE than that! Victory - what a sweet sound!
Thank you, Friends, for journeying with me through all this! Writing it all out helps me to see myself and my life and my God more clearly; it enables me to step back and look at the bigger picture. Perspective, I guess you'd say :) And to have the honour of sharing it with you - joy overflowing! More than conquerors we are - let's go forth and live in the freedom we already have! May you know real joy today!