30 November, 2010

On All Sides, A Net

Sin waits to ensnare me. Everywhere I turn, it lurks in shadows or jumps into the light or comes from behind to twine around my heart and drag it to the depths of depravity. If I turn from lust, self-righteousness gloats. If I turn from legalism, I lose self-control. If I seek my own interests, I fail in my mission to glorify God. If I seek to benefit others, I ignore the commandments of Scripture. If I act other than how I feel, I deceive those around me and proclaim a false gospel. If I work hard, I do not rest in grace.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. ~Romans 6:1-15

Shall I choose how to sin in order to avoid other sins? Please, Lord, save me from myself.

The Savior's Protection

So, today God confirmed that he isn't done working with this Stranger-Lover of mine. He was struck by a vehicle while walking home, and suffered serious (though not life-threatening) injuries. I am grateful that God spared his life! His injuries should be much worse than they are, though they certainly aren't trivial.

Lord, your mercy cannot be fathomed. You protect and support the weak. Please continue to protect him - I know you love him more than I, and are willing and able to save his soul. Please, make your love and mercy tangible to his soul in a way that his rational mind cannot explain.


Such was the love of the Son of God to the human nature, that he desired a most near and close union with it, something like the union in the persons of the Trinity, nearer than there can be between any two distinct [beings]. This moved him to make the human become one with him, and himself to be one of mankind that should represent all the rest, for Christ calls us brethren and is one of us. How should [we] be encouraged, when we have such a Mediator! 'Tis one of us that is to plead for us, one that God from love to us has received into his own person from among us. And 'tis so congruous that it should be so, and is also so agreeable to the Scripture, that it much confirms in me the truth of the Christian religion. ~Jonathan Edwards, Miscellanies #183

24 November, 2010

The Problem With Sin

There are many problems with sin. Obviously, the first and most concerning is that God cannot tolerate it. But on a (much more) smaller note, it's not healthy for me. Allow me to explain.

I've been sinning against God this Summer in questioning his law, his goodness, and his leadership. I wander away, questing after shadows, then the gracious Hand arrests my soul and centers me on Himself again. I've been preferring the world's fruit to God's love. I seek someone else's attention, rather than giving my attention to the One who so clearly deserves it. The first time I realized my error, I repented in tears and meditated much on Scripture that shed light on my path. When it happened again, I remembered the thoughts I had earlier, but didn't seek restitution so enthusiastically. Now, when I realize that I'm sinning this way again, I sigh exasperatedly. My soul has been numbed to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. It's as though there were a scab on my soul, and because it was constantly being picked, a callous developed in its place.

Considering this, I see clearly that, when sin recurs, I must seek repentance doubly hard, to avoid doing so yet a third time. And yet, I see my sin and don't want to put in the effort to change. Really?! Don't want to be reunited with the lover of my soul? How ridiculous! How piteously small-minded!

It seems the only thing that quickens my soul to the Spirit is the thought of my friend's salvation. Lord, change my heart. Purge me of the dross, and put treasures in this earthly vessel of Yours.

13 November, 2010

Hello, Blogger!

Last post was June 20th? Wow. Almost 5 months ago. Pardon the interruption...

I haven't been blogging because my thoughts this Summer have revolved around one thing (well, person) in particular, and I really didn't know how to phrase my thoughts for public consumption. Rather than risk offending some, or injuring anyone involved, I kept my thoughts away from the internet. But I think (hope) it might be helpful to publish my struggles about this. I know I'm not the only one struggling with this, but I found little help from online resources when I looked. Maybe others will be encouraged by my fight, which is ongoing and will probably inspire more writings.

I fell in love with someone I don't know--a stranger. By that, I mean someone whose heart is void of the Holy Spirit. He can tell me the Gospel story, and quotes the Bible, but our experiences of God cannot be more different. When I say "fall in love," I mean just that. I didn't plan to love him this way--I planned to care for his soul in the best way I could discern. I earnestly prayed for the salvation and protection of his soul, on my knees, in tears, without falling into the snares that so easily encompass us, for weeks.

But there was a moment (I remember it exactly) when my emotions became compromised, and it was no longer just his soul that I cared for, but my own satisfaction. The pull in this direction was irresistible for me. The Bible says that God will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear, and this Summer I doubted the validity of that verse. How can I resist the most natural thing in the world? Is it wrong for Pavlov's dogs to salivate when they are trained to recognize the proximity of food? How, then, can I be expected to resist what Paul calls a "profound mystery" regarding the relationship between a man and a woman?

Romans 7 has been a rock to which I've clung countless times this Summer. "WHO will deliver me from this body of death?" I've screamed at the cosmos. Fatalistic attitudes were tempting. "God, if you want me to marry a Christian, why did you allow me to be in this situation?" Even my friend encouraged me to think along those lines, "Would God really put us in our lives only to force us apart because of our beliefs in him? Would someone who loves you like he does do that to you?" But I KNOW there's more to this than that. I just don't know what it is.

Song of Solomon became a source of strength to me. I've read that book before as one who was curious, looking for wisdom and understanding none of it. It is now ABUNDANTLY clear to me why the daughters of Jerusalem are charged not to awaken love until it so desires. But what about me, who didn't desire to awaken love, and yet...it awoke? I still do not understand fully this book, but Song of Solomon 8:6-7 have become to me a lifeline. It's reassured me that what I feel, is, in fact, a taste of divine pleasures, and therefore cannot be ignored or suppressed as a mere inconvenience. For years, I've wrestled with lust and desire and guilt, and managed to keep much of it "under control," but this is beyond my control. This is no longer just me wanting something out of reach, it is a man who desperately needs love, and wants to offer what love he can give in return. No man has ever offered me such love.

Except One, the one whose name is Love. The one who lived and loved perfectly, that I may be redeemed and return his affection. It was my hope at the beginning of the Summer to show this love to my friend, but slowly and painfully am I realizing that I am incapable of such love. I cannot set my self aside to be Christ to others, and yet, somehow, they see him in me. This is the profoundest mystery of all, and merely acknowledging it effectuates tears. To love is to die. To become a lover, one must give up individuality and a sense of self for the sake of creating a new being, a new person, if you will.

Am I giving up myself for the sake of loving Christ? People ask all the time if I'm ready to "live for Christ," or "sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel," etc. etc. etc. I've misunderstood it all until now. Jesus doesn't want my best efforts, he wants ME. I must deny myself. Not of pleasures or needs, but I must deny my SELF. Facing this truth is to look into Terror. How do I deny myself? Consider myself as dead to the world, but alive in Christ? How do I so totally separate myself from "me" (circumstances, habits, personality) and instead identify solely in Him? I don't know.

What I do know is that I am grateful that God brought this man and this relationship into my life. I have never fought so hard or lost so much to sin, and yet am emerging victorious. The victory is mine, and the battle is the Lord's. Hosanna! No enemy can stand when his praise goes forth! And this, THIS is what kept me from total depravity. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God deserves praise, and oh! He blessed me so much this Summer through praise. I've rejected God again and again this Summer, yet when I give him the praise he deserves he accepts it and welcomes me back to him. His presence has been my constant companion.

I pity my own humanity. Because of it, I am bound to the flesh, yet taste immortality.

Usually, when I write about struggles like this, I write as if it were a story, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. This isn't a story. I'm unable to detach myself from it, because it is ongoing. When will it end? I don't know...I suspect it has something to do with Christ's return. It is the deepest desire of my heart that my friend will be one of the sheep in the fold of Jesus when (if) this story ends. I have this strange peace and assurance (some would call it faith) that he will be, but for now, I am called to patience. Please pray for us.