…yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things – things that belong to salvation.”
My bible study group has been reading a book that basically, to me, is about confronting sin and knowing what to do with it. It strikes me that one way to stay at the bottle-fed stage is to think we have handled sin and moved on. What a trap!
My first understanding of sin as a new believer was the marvelous and miraculous way God took away my desire for things that did not please Him. I didn’t have to quit anything, there was no pressure to conform or perform, I just changed. Many of these changes were outward expressions. Things people could see and hear. My language changed much to the surprise and awe of my co-workers. My stress changed from frantic “holding on” to peaceful resting in His care. My fear of losing and being abandoned needing to control my circumstances, including saving my marriage, somehow softened into trust.
In fact, new desires replaced old ones and things I could have never survived losing became simple offerings because I wanted to do something else more. That’s how I gave up smoking. It wasn’t because He asked me to; it was because I wanted to give money to my church. I didn’t really have any “money” I felt was my own except that $3 for the carton of cigarettes each week. So I made a deal with God – You help me quit smoking and I’ll give the $3. Two days, cold turkey and a large pack of JuicyFruit and the local church was $3 a week richer!
Then I coasted a while. “Didn’t swear, didn’t chew, didn’t go with boys that do.”
I was doing all kinds of good things and I was growing and I was loving God in my life. Then one day in church there was communion and we were to confess our sins before taking the elements. I could not think of anything to confess. I couldn’t think of anything the people around me would have to confess. So, in the silence of my thoughts I told God I just didn’t get this part. This is what the Spirit said, “you say, …I have need of nothing..and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.”
My heart ached with the shock. I confessed just those words. I didn’t know what else to say. Later I went to find this passage in Rev. 3:15-22. As I read it again today, I see “you are neither hot or cold”. This speaks to me of being content with drinking milk – the same message and the same commitment over and over thinking I’m doing everything according to God’s good pleasure. What happens to our zeal, the adventure, the walking into the unknown hand in hand with Jesus?
I began to ask. Lord, what displeases you? Is there something You want me to confess and change? He has been faithful to answer by voice, by the Scripture and by the pang in my conscience. By solid food, I have had my powers of discerment trained to distinguish good from evil. It is a process I expect to continue until I meet Jesus face to face and I am grateful.
This morning before I left my bed, I lay confessing something new. God is asking me to step out into areas that are undefined. There are no steps of action, no purpose for future ministry, nothing that looks like a way He has ever led me before. Yesterday I said yes and before bedtime I had failed. I can’t really explain except to say it was about just asking for help each time I thought I might be off the way. I didn’t and when I didn’t it was more and more obvious to me that I was off the path but still I didn’t. What kind of self-control is that?
As I confessed this morning, knowing we were starting over, I realized He was asking me to trust Him in a way that would bring glory to Him alone. It would be a testimony that only He could have done and He was inviting me to try it.
“Lord I cannot do anything that will bring you glory and all my efforts to do it are missing the mark, not to mention, the point. I have no idea what it is like to depend on You for every step. If you don’t show up I’ll be lost but if You want to use me, here I am.”
These are the things that belong to salvation. The tiny steps of understanding that move me from milk to meat; the realizations of how far I am from being like Jesus and how much more there is to learn; the child-like joy of being invited to lean on Him and to bring Him glory.
But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Ps 86:15
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Cor 4:7
About the World?
We have all missed the mark but the door is always open.