God uses life’s circumstances to draw us closer to Him. Sometimes He uses convicting us of specific sin to draw us back, and sometimes He helps us to see that we are living a lifestyle that is contrary to the Christian life.
I think the latter is the harder one to swallow. We all have a sinful nature and there are specific weaknesses in all of us. Temptation comes often, and sometimes repeatedly as Satan tries to use our weaknesses to cause us to stumble. And far too easily, that is what we do, eventually finding ourselves caught up in a specific sin. God uses these moments to remind us that He is our strength and we can fight the temptation through His strength.
The temptation to sin is great, but with every weakness, through Christ, we are given strength.
But what about the sin of living a secular lifestyle as a believer. I stated above that this is the harder sin to swallow because rebellion is very different than weakness. Rebellion is a direct choice to live contrary to one’s beliefs. The tough thing is, it is easy to lie to yourself and believe that because you still pray and go to church, because you are not immoral or vile that this isn’t sin. But it is, and it is a much more devastating sin than giving in to a weakness. At least that is how I see it.
As has been the theme these past months, God has rescued me from a life of rebellion, and has given me a strong focus again on Him. I have found joy in reading Scripture and drawing my life toward holiness, the areas of my life that were contrary to the narrow path of Christianity, the areas that didn’t bring happiness but brought discord have been replaced with peace in Christ.
John 15:9-11 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
This has been an amazing discovering and I don’t want anything to steal the joy from my journey. But fear and discouragement have a way of creeping in and over the weekend I allowed fear to permeate my thoughts, followed yesterday by discouragement. By evening, I found myself full of anger and frustration. I dwelled there for far too long and before I knew it I had begun defeating myself with my own thoughts. This is not what God intends. He wants us to rest in Him when things are confusing and scary. When fear enters the picture, we are to turn to Him and His promises and He will fill us with joy.
So how do I recognize discouragement edging in? How do I redirect my focus back to the Lord?
His Word. I have been studying Scripture and spending time in prayer every day for the past months and every day has been full of blessing. Except yesterday. The fear that I was feeling had given way to worry, the worry kept me from focusing when I sat down for my quiet time, and instead of calling out to the Lord to help calm my spirit I set the study aside and went about my day. A very unsuccessful and discouraging day.
We know that spending time with the one we love is what draws us closer together. Spending time with our Lord and Savior doesn’t just draw us closer to Him, spending time in His Word and in prayer allows us to hear Him as He speaks into our lives.
God give me the desire to spend time with you in moments of discouragement, for it is through you that I will find peace.
James 4:8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.