Pfft. If only everyone were even half as perfect as I.
Until handed a list of possible areas of sin. Until asked to rate my level of struggle with each specific sin.
Recently (before I knew this list was coming) I’ve dwelt deeply with God in a difficult place. A place of learning, trust, unbelief, uncertainty. He has brought to my attention inappropriate behaviors. He’s also been testing me in quite a big way. Giving (what I think are) clear directions then asking difficult questions presented as life-situations.
“to obey is better than sacrifice”
“Do you think all God wants are sacrifices— empty rituals just for show? He wants you to listen to him! Plain listening is the thing, not staging a lavish religious production.”
It’s kinda hard to get into words all that God has me focusing on lately. His holiness. Obedience. Grace. Theoretically, those three things go together like the Trinity. When it’s drilled down and the microscope is on my life, though? When there’s a triangle of His holiness, His desire for obedience, and His grace circling around me? Sometimes it’s overwhelming.
Like that list above. I read it through marking low ratings for a bunch of stuff I don’t struggle with and felt pretty good.
Critical Tongue. ouch.
Pride. uhm. yeah.
Stubborn. (can we just stop now??)
(God says: nope.)
Phil and I talk about some of this. How in our lives there are people who we call friends that find joy in our faults. They are happy when Phil and I have a little argument. They remember it and bring it up and laugh and tell us how happy it makes them. Truly, I find it disturbing that I can call them friends. What does it say about me that I choose to surround myself and my family with those who choose to tear us down? Who would make such a choice?
Knowing that, talking about it with my husband, asking God for direction–made me hesitate to write this post. Because I know these same people will find joy in my admission of sin. And when people rejoice at your pain, it’s hard to want to face it.
It’s also hard to share the areas of intense struggle. Part of the focus for this week’s Downpour lesson is helping one another. Since I’ve already divulged things I’d rather not speak of, since you already understand I won’t find a prayer partner in those who are made happy by negative things that occur in my life, then I can also tell you that most of my spiritual support comes from women online who desire to walk the path Christ has for them.
We are relatively new at our church and I’m making friends and forging new relationships. We broke into groups of 3 last week and discussed much of what I’m writing here. So the reason I’m sharing this stuff is because so many of you have been on this journey with me and I trust you. Yes, there’s risk that people I don’t trust will be reading along as well…but I’m choosing to focus on the true things. And what’s true is that even though many of you are far away, I feel close to you because we share in our experiences and we share the Holy Spirit.
So this Holiness. Obedience. Grace…
it says to me “Follow me”
even if it doesn’t make sense (hello. Noah. Ark.)
even if people ridicule you and delight in your misfortunes (David. Paul.)
it says, “be holy for I am holy.”
it says, “Without faith, it is impossible to please the Lord.”
“Be still and know that I am God.”
“Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.”
“When you are weak, then are you strong.”
“For my grace is sufficient for you.”
Specific grace for every last thing on that list from One who would never laugh or find joy in painful situations.
Yes. I have a critical tongue and a critical spirit. I struggle with pride and the balance of self-worth vs. conceit, especially when people who supposedly love and care for you break you down when a negative comes into your life. Yep. I am a workaholic. I’m most definitely opinionated. And stubborn. Sheesh. And I’m probably a ton of other things.
But I’m also forgiven. I’m His. I’m an heir to the throne. I’m loved and cherished. And I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I know this because I used to find pleasure in watching others suffer. And it’s only by His grace that I have been allowed to move beyond that.
If there is something you struggle with that you’ve not shared with someone, you can email me privately or if you feel so led, you can share with others who might need to hear your story. (MLPendergrass at gmail dot com)