Sin and mercy.
These two themes have been fighting for control over my mind. Lately, I have felt that I am in a perpetual cycle of choosing badly and stumbling through life. It certainly seems that sin often wins the battle. This leaves me feeling extremely helpless. I do try. I have the right intentions to make good choices, yet, in the moment, I often feel out of control – destined to fail. Again.
This leads me to feelings of guilt, condemnation, and shame. Then, I struggle to pray, focus, or read Scripture. I’m too ashamed to come before God with the same issues – over and over again! Isn’t He sick of it? Doesn’t He wish we could move on? I certainly do!
But I have come to a conclusion – my perspective of God has been skewed. He is not a harsh master or an angry and domineering being who is frustrated by me. He is not rolling His eyes and grumbling about my lack of self-control. He hasn’t turned His back on me or refused to help me. No. He is a God of mercy and love. I have chosen to accept His great gift of salvation, purchased by the death of His son Jesus. This means that when the Lord looks at me, He doesn’t see my wretched mistakes, He sees the holiness and righteousness of His Son. He looks at me with mercy.
This mercy means more than simply being saved from eternity in hell. It also means that He extends an ongoing salvation, a constant renewing, every minute of my day. No matter how many times I stumble in the same area, He gives me the mercy and grace to stand up, brush myself off, and try again. Not only that, but He also wants me to ask for His help!
Lately, I’ve subconsciously been trying to overcome sinful patterns by my own will – as if trying hard enough will validate me. What a misplaced idea! I don’t need to validate myself before God. First of all, there is no valid reason for me to even have an audience with Him – except for the spilled blood of Jesus. Secondly, I’d never be able to measure up, even if I had to. I just can’t seem to muster up the willpower to choose right every time. And thirdly, I already am validated before Him because Jesus paid my penalty with His death.
All this to say, I don’t have to come to God in perfection… He makes me perfect. And He keeps on perfecting me every minute of every day if I ask Him to do the work in me. Those areas that I keep struggling in? He wants me to be honest – to tell Him that I can’t choose correctly on my own. He wants to be my ever present help in my times of need. He wants to be my strength when I am weak. He wants me to invite Him into my disgustingly tangled life and allow Him work out the hopeless messes.
He wants to download an overcoming strategy in my heart when I humbly ask Him for help against sin.
There’s no shame in admitting my own weaknesses (He already knows anyways!) Rather, there is only freedom. Sin has no dominion over me when I am a child of God.
Today I’m tired of listening to the lies of the Satan. I will believe that God is good…
He is love.
He is for me.
He forgives me.
He is my help.
He is always faithful.
He will help me to overcome.
I will embrace the tenderness found in my conscience and repent of my disobedience.
I will seek the Lord – not because I am deserving of His attention, but because I humbly recognize that without His intervention, I am forever destined to fail.
I will remember that His eyes are attentive to me.
I will accept His help and let Him lead my life.
I will not give up – even when I slip. I will keep coming back to His throne of mercy.
I will embrace the fact that He has fashioned my heart as an individual, and He longs to occupy that secret place within it.
I love that these two verses are in the same Psalm of David:
I said, “Lord, be merciful to me; heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.” (Psalm 41:4)
As for me, You uphold me in my integrity, and set me before Your face forever. (Psalm 41:12)
David knew that without the Lord’s mercy, he wasn’t able to maintain his integrity. He was wholly dependent upon God to forgive him and give him the grace to live rightly.
This is the conclusion that I have come to as well – I can do nothing without the Lord’s gracious and merciful intervention in my life. Therefore, I am returning and clinging to Him. He is good and desires to help me walk out this life in a worthy manner.
I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back… no turning back.