Monday, March 24, 2014

Mornings and Mournings

Photo by Taylor Leopold | Unsplash

It's early.  Too early.  In fact, darkness will shroud the earth for two hours more before dawn cracks the eastern sky, but my little birds, they're early ones.  They leave me no choice but to pull my weary body from bed, shuffling to the coffee maker and the quiet corner of my house.  Here I wait for the Lord, and though I stumble through my thoughts and words, I offer up prayers.  Prayers of confession, prayers of praise, prayers of intercession.  I'm trying to learn how to pray, using books, reciting liturgies, freely making needs known.

And this time, this place, it's becoming sacred.  Late nights and TV shows and social media don't hold the same allure anymore in comparison to this pre-dawn sanctuary.  But there are days.

Days like today when it took everything in me to move my tired bones from my warm bed.  Days where I come away feeling like the Lord was silent.  Days of discouragement.  And it trickles into the rest of my day.  Whining children grate on every nerve.  Gray skies lead to despair.  A seemingly critical word from my husband sends me into a tailspin.  And I respond in anger, sarcasm, frustration.

So when I get an email or a text from a friend saying she is so encouraged by my faith, how she sees what God's doing in my heart and wants to know more about it, can we meet so she can learn more, it's almost laughable.  Me?  The worst of sinners and hypocrites.  The one who steals glory, the one who denies her maker, the one who shrinks in fear, the one who does exactly what she doesn't want to do.

Yet, that's my sin nature, isn't it?  As a Christ-follower and believer I become easily discouraged because I am convicted when I sin, am aware of how it hurts the Father's heart, am conscious of my own hypocrisy and how it may turn others away.  And how badly I mess up daily.  Thankfully I'm not alone in this.  If even the Apostle Paul struggled with this, surely I can be encouraged in my walk.  He says in Romans 7:14-25 (MSG),

But I need something more!  For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help!  I realize that I don't have what it takes.  I can will it, but I can't do it.  I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.  My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions.  Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.  It happens so regularly that it's predictable.  The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up.  I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight.  Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. 

Something has gone wrong deep within me . . . man how true that is.  On days like today when I'm running on "E" and have nothing left to give, all I can utter is, "Grace."  And thankfully, there is grace.  As translated in The Message above, "I obviously need help!"  And grace has set me free from the law of sin!  I don't have to choose sin.  "Don't I realize that whatever I choose to obey becomes my master?  I can choose sin, which leads to death, or can choose to obey God and receive his approval."  Romans 6:16 (NLT, empahsis mine)  I don't have to choose anger, fear, self-righteousness, hypocrisy, defeat.

But now that you've found you don't have to listen to sin tell you what to do and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise!  A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way!  Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death.  But God's gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.  (Romans 6:23, MSG)
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