At the ripe age of 32, I still am not able to fully listen, trust, and obey God. Why is that? I am sure there are many reasons or excuses, but it's really as simple as - I am weak. It goes back to the first story in the bible...Adam and Eve and the simple but captivating forbidden fruit. God said it so simply "If you eat its fruit, you will surely die". But they were too weak. Did they not believe Him? Look at how unknowingly weak Eve really was. She never thought twice about that fruit until she was tempted by the serpent. She didn't even know she wanted it. And she wasn't tempted over and over by the serpent....all it took was one time...one statement (Genesis Ch 3 vs4-7) - "You won't die!...God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it and you will be like God knowing good and evil. The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and is fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband who was with her and he also ate it. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they felt shame at their nakedness so they covered themselves." Apply that to many cirumstances in our lives. Something persuades us - television, friends, even our own self...we didn't even know we wanted it until something persuaded us...then it's done...we're convinced. Then we do it/buy it/sin, etc and cause others to sin by persuading them. Then when its done, our eyes are opened to what God was trying to tell us all along. As a result, we are ashamed and we cover it up so no one else will know how awful we are.
I was sharing the story with my daughter (age 4.5) who asked "Why did God tell them they couldn't eat the fruit from that one tree?" I tried explaining that God sets up rules or boundaries for us - kind of like mommy and daddy do - to protect them from things. Sometimes the things aren't necessarily bad for you but God is protecting us from something that He knows more about than we do. Much like the fruit - it wasn't bad for their body and it probably tasted good. But God knew if they ate it, they would know too much and it would be a burden to them - they wouldn't be able to handle knowing everything. He didn't want that for them and was protecting them from that - something He already knew. And in those cases we need to just trust and obey Him. Because Eve didn't trust and obey God, she committed the very first sin! To which she said "Cool! The very first sin!". Even the first woman wanted to be a trendsetter! Surely Eve wasn't trying set the first trend for the rest of us women! My three year old's mind only made it to the snake and then he was hissing the whole time and saying "cool...snake". I am not sure they grasped the concept, but I know that I don't always fully either. I think I know and that I get it, but then I am tempted and sin again.
I hear things out of my mouth like this (to my children): "Why don't you listen to me? Don't you trust that mommy wants what is best for you? Don't you know that obeying is good? If you would have just listened to mommy this would not have happened..." I know that God must be saying these exact same things over and over to me. There are so many times recently where I hear His whisper of truth but I do my own thing anyway. I think I can handle it...it won't be an issue for me...I am strong enough...this situation might make someone else weak...but not me...I am not that weak. Again and again, God proves to me that I AM THAT WEAK! We all are that weak. Don't be fooled into thinking you aren't. As soon as I think that way, I am blown away when I fail because I didn't see it coming. I often ask myself - How did that happen to me? And say things like "I didn't see that coming...I thought I was stronger than that"
I have been pouring my heart out to Him recently...just asking forgiveness for so many things. I know in my heart He forgives and I cry over his mercy and grace to me. We are told to give it over to God and ask for forgiveness to get beyond the guilt and live in peace but for me that is so hard. I know God is good but I never want to take advantage of His mercy...His grace...His sovereignty. I sometimes feel like I shouldn't be allowed to be free of the guilt that I have only caused myself. Why should God protect me from that when it was my own sin and fault that got me there in the first place? Does anyone else feel like that? I am not sure really where to go from here but this is what I am currently working through. Found this verse Monday which was comforting Hebrews 5:2: "And he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he himself is subject to the same weaknesses". He was sent in human form to feel the pressure that we feel but He, unlike us, didn't fail. He is strong...He is perfect. Maybe I have finally felt what it is to truly repent. Where you know you don't want to sin, and you know how to ask forgiveness and you know that God is strong and has you covered even though you don't want to take advantage of Him. Just when I think I have learned something - humility in this case - He shows me another area in my life where I am not. When I say "I don't even want that...it's not even option for me...its the one area that I am strong" and when I am tested...I fail miserably. Don'think it, ladies. Don't lie to yourselves...don't think you won't fail. We are weak...and easily persuaded by other people. Remember this verse always and engrave in your hearts: 2 Timothy 3:5-7 (talking about the end of days when bad things are happening because of things people do - not natural events): "stay away from people like that! They are the kind who work their way into people's homes and win the confidence of vulnerable, weak-willed women who are burdened with the guilt of sin and controlled by various desires. Such women are forever following new teachings, but they are never able to understand the truth." Is that anyone but me??!! I am a weak-willed woman...I am burdened by the guilt of sin...controlled by various desires...follow new teachings...but nevery fully understand the truth. If I did, I wouldn't sin every single day. We think we are strong and then we are persuaded...by people on TV, songs on the radio, people we trust and look up to, store sales, luxury items, commercials...and the world in general.
How can we overcome? First, you must acknowledge that you are weak and that you need Christ. Don't ever say that something won't be an issue for you...since we are weak and controlled by various desires, we will cave. Don't judge others for a sin you haven't committed yet. You never know when your own sinful desires will overwhelm you. Maybe you never stole anything...but have you ever been so hungry or poor that you have had think about it? Maybe you haven't cheated...but have you dealt with an abusive spouse or boss/teacher who might push you to that very limit? You've never thought of murder...but have what if you or even worse - your child - were abused until almost death? I am not saying its right - what I am saying is - confront the 10 commandments...what would it take to make you weak enough that you might break one? Pray about those weak points. I am certainly not encouraging sin or approving sin, but I am certainly not the judger of it either. Remember, sins all carry the same weight...so why do we judge those who murder, cheat and steal but say little about a little white lie? Through all my sin, God has given me the gift of compassion towards those who sin. We all sin...but how many of us openly talk about our sin with others? A big reason why people don't is that they fear judgment from others...more often judgement from their Christian friends. Is that our job? No...we must embrace one another in our sins and not judge one another. No one should feel isolated in their sin. We are ALL susceptible of the same exact sins...it's all in the matter of what makes us weak enough to sin.
Okay, we need an encouraging verse: Hebrews 12:5-6 "And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children He said 'my child don't make light of the Lord's discipline, and don't give up when he corrects you. For the Lord discplines those he loves and he punishes each one he accepts as his child". Thankful to be loved, punished, and accepted as a child of God, no matter what.
I have to give this last cute example (which happened Monday night - the day I began writing this post) ....Reece wanted to go out and ride her bike (she always gives me trouble about wearing her helmet). I said "you may go out and ride your bike but you have to wear your helmet". She said "no, I don't want to." I said "I realize that it is not comfortble but I love you too much to have something happen to your pretty face. You can not predict whether you will have an accident and I am just trying to protect you". She said "And mom, I love you but I still don't want to wear a helmet. I'll be careful...I'll go slow...I'll use my brakes". Think of the unspoken conversations we have many times with the Lord that sound so similiar. It might sound something like this. Me: "I would like to watch TV tonight". God "You may watch TV but it may only be shows that glorify Me...I'd stay away from those commercials". Me: "No, those kind of shows are boring and I really like those commercials". God: "I understand but I love you too much for those things to accidentally influence your life. You cannot predict which things might make you weak". Me "I love you, God, but I will be careful...I'll guard my eyes and ears...and I won't watch it that much". You know what happens next...we watch more than we thought and things that we didn't think would influence us, do. We are weak. Don't forget! XXOO