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Living

Even when you foul up, stay the course

by Christian Michael

April 28, 2013


As a believer, we are called to know God. That means several things, least of which is to know “about” God. We are to read His Word, stay in prayer and communication, and like the Jews — who defined knowing as knowledge AND doing — to do. We are to live a holy life of grace — live according to God’s precepts, not by our power but by God’s power through us.

But we pretty much foul it up. I can raise my hand to that one. I’d raise both hands, then stand up and hop on the coffee table.

I’ve struggled with porn since I was young. I still do. What do you struggle with? Alcohol? Pride? Greed? Drugs? Sleeping around? Workaholism?

We screw up all the time. It doesn’t seem like such a bad thing when we’re just coasting through life living for ourselves, but when we actually want to make the effort to live up to a higher moral code — like faith — our failures seem to stand out, and no matter how much else in our lives might actually be improving, our continual failure through personal weaknesses make us want to give up.

I’ve given up many times. Not on faith altogether, but on overcoming my personal thorns. Worst of all, it keeps me from pursuing that daily communion with God, that pursuit of relationship that is so necessary for God to flow through me. I let my shame and doubt of something God’s already forgiven me for through the death of his son keep me from a daily walk with Him.

That walk is what is so necessary to build upon hope that my thorn might one day be whittled to nothing, for while God is certainly capable of healing me in an instant of that pain which keeps me bound, God is not in the business of quick fixes. Can he? Yes. Does he? Not generally. Usually he wants to GROW you through your troubles, to walk with you as you develop and deepen in faith.

When we ask God for patience, he sends experiences that build patience. To become a leader? He puts us in positions to follow, and then maybe to lead. Peace? He gives us trouble so that we learn how to seek and embrace peace despite our circumstantial chaos.

The hardest part of it all is remembering to stay the course. We let our frustrations with ourselves get in the way of life with God. Does God want us to give up sin for him? Absolutely. Does he want us to draw closer to him? Yes. Show our love to him by abiding his law? Of course.

But does he also know that we’re incapable of doing it, ourselves? Just read Paul. We cannot do it without God.

 

So if we’re supposed to stop sinning in order to draw near to God, but can’t stop sinning without God, it might seem like a terrible conundrum, a Catch 22, if you will. It seems enough for anyone to give up. But what God is asking for isn’t a simple “Do A, Get B,” and he knew that we’d have to do something different. We’d have to face something that seemed insurmountable by human reckoning. We couldn’t just insert coin, remove drink. We’d have to know that 1) We’re incapable to do, 2) it must be done to be, and 3) only by being can you do. There is only one command that has no polar opposite, not balance. Never in the Bible does it say not to pursue God. It is a one-sided command. So no matter whether we’re sinning or holy, triumphant or defeated, hated or loved, we are to pursue God.

God does command us to forgive others if we hope for him to forgive us, but God can reveal who those people are if we’re pursuing him.

In every instance of growth, pursuit is a must. We cannot become holy through effort, but we cannot find God if we do not seek him, or at the very least open ourselves to him if he comes to us. This doing isn’t what makes us holy. It is God who makes us holy.

It seems a bit of a conundrum at times, but when all else seems so confusing, pursue God and he will light your path. He will not make your path easy, but putting light on a difficult situation can at least offer hope of a solution, and that, alone, is enough to help us through the frustration inherent with life’s problems.

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