Journal Entry ~ 10/22/17

20 He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. 
21 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!  - Psalm 107:20-21

Two distinct truths have struck me as I’ve been sitting in quiet reflection today. The first one is continued from yesterday —> we don't live in the big moments of our lives - in the few biggest decisions or most pivotal moments of our lives. No, the reality is that we live in the ten thousand little moments of our days. It's in those little moments where the character of our relationships are set.  And because we all bring sin with us into those relationships, they can get messy. We all bring self-absorbed, self-focused attitudes into our relationships with the people in our lives. We can't help it, it's part of our DNA. We'd love to be able to point our finger at the other person as carrying all the blame, but if we're being completely honest with each other, conflict in our relationships stems from our needs, wants, and desires not being met. We want what we want and we’re not getting it. The interesting part is that most of the time the desire at the root of the conflict is not sinful in and of itself - we want to be loved and respected, we want a Godly spouse, we want obedient children. There is nothing wrong with those desires in and of themselves. The problem enters when sin makes us feel entitled and demanding...those desires become expectations, and it's a quick slide downward into the pit. Sin makes us unwilling to extend mercy, unwilling to forgive minor offenses, and self-righteously defensive instead of being ready to confess. 

This leads me to the second truth for the day —> forgiving others who have hurt us deeply is one of the most difficult things to do in our walk with Christ, and one of the places we stay trapped in our sin. How do we forgive offenses that cut us deep to our heart and soul?  We know we are to forgive because we are forgiven, and we have been saved from the punishment for our sins, but our saving faith is not merely believing that we are forgiven, it's more than that. It looks at sin through God's eyes, sees how horrible it is, then looks to the holiness of our Lord and understands how unspeakably glorious His forgiveness truly is. We are not simply off the hook with the cross, our saving faith means we savor the truth that a forgiving God is the most precious reality in all of the universe. It is from that understanding that we can forgive others. When we can see our sin the way He sees it, and know that He has freed us from all payment, then looking at the offenses of others becomes minuscule in comparison.  We are broken people in need of constant forgiveness, living our lives out next to other broken people in need of forgiveness. The problem is that pride so often gets in the way of us being able to recognize this - we look at others and think their sin is worse, their wrong is worse than anything we would ever do...but that is just not true. That pride is sin, we need to humble ourselves and allow God to reveal our sin to us. 

Those two realizations should bring us humbly to our knees looking for repentance, but I think it all gets muddled in the messages we receive as Christians in this world. I think one of the hardest parts of being a Christian today is we’re inundated with what how we’re supposed to be instead of what we’re supposed to do. We hear sermon after sermon about what the way we’re supposed to behave as a Christian, and we set about trying to be that person. It doesn’t take long before we fail, and we find ourselves frustrated at the end of the week, sitting in the pews on the weekend, looking at our week of failures. It’s because we keep trying to do horizontally what we can only do vertically. We keep trying to control and fix our circumstances rather than returning to the King, recognizing our great need and crying out to Him, surrendering it all to Him, and allowing His redemptive work in our life.  If you’re anything like me, you tend to focus on the “to do” list. I’m a rule follower, so if you give me a list of things that I’m supposed to do, I’ll do my best to follow their rules. Be more patient, more gentle, more loving, give more, practice more self control.  The problem is I keep trying to do it in my own power. That’s never going to accomplish anything. We were never meant to live the Christian life in our own power - as Pastor James reminds us “God has made no provision for you to live the Christian life — only for Him to live His life through you.” If we were just to focus on getting our hearts right with God, if we were just to humble our prideful hearts and lay it all down before Him, all the other stuff would fall into place. God promises us the sweet freedom found in redemption if we just turn to Him and cry out. Stop striving and surrender. 

Praying He continues to forgive me for trying to manage my faith, and that He continue to draw me to Him in this crisis. I want to press on to know Him more deeply, I want to weed the sin out of my life, and I want my heart to be softened to see the lost as He sees them. 

Press on ~ you are loved 💗


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