Yes, I am still alive! I departed on my spiritual journey, and I am still chugging along! And I didn’t even have to meditate at the top of a mountain for a long time.
In the few months I’ve been gone, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve struggled a lot. I’ve made decisions both good and bad. I’ve made friends and I’ve lost friends. I’ve laughed and cried. I’ve had my periods of closeness with God and my periods of being farther from Him than I should. But through it all, He taught me. Through His Word and through the people in my life.
But let me not get ahead of myself. When I went on hiatus from Unsheathed last year, my original purpose was to grow closer to God. I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to do that, but I figured that as long as I read my Bible regularly and prayed, stuff would get better.
Ha ha, that didn’t exactly work…
My journey has been one of self-discovery. I’ve been learning about myself a lot over the past few months, and I’m still learning. And what I learn scares me. As a human…I’m angry, malevolent, lustful, and depraved. I’m scarily addicted to sin, and my heart jumps at any small chance to live my own way with my own selfish rules.
It took me a while to realize this, after lots of trying and failing. After a lot of falling and wondering why I couldn’t get up. It’s because I can’t.
As a sinful human being, I cannot live to please God in my own power. I cannot decide one day that I’m going to live holy and somehow accomplish it. I don’t have the strength. My heart is “desperately sick”, as Jeremiah 17:9 puts it so rightly in the NASB version.
To be sick is to have your inner body, your core, invaded by a foreign contaminant. The sickness uses your own body to grow itself, literally eating you from the inside out as it exerts more and more power over your body. You can’t defeat it by cleaning yourself up from the outside, and you have no control over what it does while it exists in you. In essence, the sickness determines how you live your life while infected.
The only way to recover from a sickness is to take medicine. Medicine cleans you out from the inside; it is a gift given to you by an outside agent that counteracts the symptoms of the sickness within you. It doesn’t destroy it immediately, but begins the process of cleaning you from the inside out, and removing the sickness within you. This allows you to slowly but surely begin to truly live how you were meant to live.
In the same way, one can’t simply try to change one’s study habits or the time they wake up and expect to cleanse themselves from sin. In and of ourselves, we can only do as much as the sin allows us to do. Because it rules our lives. Until we are saved by Christ, and we allow Him to work in us, to clean us from within, and to change us.
But all too often I found myself rejecting the medicine in favor of the sickness, simply because the sickness was easier to succumb to than it was for me to take the medicine.
It sounds so counterintuitive. Why struggle against what you know will save you? But it is so easy to do. Because as a human, the sin nature is such an integral part of my being that I can’t let go of it. I am used to its dark whispers in my ear, and the lovely self-satisfaction it brings. And yet it kills me.
Paul said it quite well in Romans 7: “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.”
My biggest self-discovery was quite simple, and yet deep. I cannot do good and please God.
I don’t have the ability to live as a Christian. Thus, it is not a suggestion to go to Christ for help. It’s not a “recommended tip”. It is imperative that I admit to God every day that I don’t have the strength to live for Him, and to cry out for help.
I tried to change myself. I tried changing my study habits, tried reading new parts of the Bible, tried praying more. But that didn’t change me because I was trying to do it all and live in my own strength. Not in God’s. And God desires obedience.
What is obedience? Compliance with given commands. This doesn’t mean that you have to start reading whole new sections of your Bible you didn’t know were there, or that you have to start listening to sermons from well-known pastors, even though both of those things can edify you and bring you closer to God. But rather, you ensure that you’re obeying God in the lessons and ideals He has already taught you through your life experiences before you go and try to obey Him in other areas.
Christ said in Luke 16:10 that “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much”. So if you want to please God in the big things, you have to be sure that you’re pleasing Him in the little things.
This was my second-biggest self-discovery: In order to please God in the large areas of my life, I have to please Him in the smaller areas.
Before I can be the mentor and big brother to my friends, I need to be the mentor and big brother to the younger sister who lives with me. Before I can tell others to respect authority, I need to be sure I’m respecting the authorities in my own home. Before I can go and give other people spiritual advice, I need to be sure that I’m living out the Gospel as well. And this all ties back into the first lesson. I cannot do any of this apart from God.
“So what?”, you may be asking. Because you’ve heard all of this before, right? You know what it all means. You don’t need anyone to remind you.
That’s what I thought as well. And I was so, so wrong.
Don’t fall into the trap of taking Christ for granted. It’s so easy to slip into, and yet it’s such a dangerous trap. It taps into the core of our sinful nature, and it brings out the worst in us in the subtlest of ways.
Don’t get me wrong: I am in no way saying that I’ve arrived at some summit of spirituality. I’m still as flawed and broken as I was at the beginning, and I’ll remain as flawed and broken as I am until the day I depart from this world to be with Christ. But as I struggle, He gives grace. As I seek Him, He gives me the peace that I need to make it for just one more minute, one more hour, one more day of living to please Him and not me. It’s not easy. And a lot of the time I just want to let go and do what I want to do. But I know that my way only leads to regret, while His way leads to true joy. And I dunno about you, but being sick sucks. I want to be healed.
Going forward into 2016, you can expect more content from me, but the same weekly schedule. During the summer I’ll try to post on Mondays and Fridays, while during the fall semester I’ll most likely switch to Monday posts only due to the fact that I’ll be starting college and won’t have as much time to contribute. I’m glad to be getting back into the swing of things, and I’ll see you all around the blog!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to check out this My Hero Academia everyone’s been talking about…