Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Seeking Higher Ground

I found this excerpt in a favorite devotional book I'm reading and just had to share:

Scripture: If sinners entice you, do not give in to them.   Proverbs 1:10

"It's easy to be misled by people who know your weaknesses and to revert back to familiar patterns.  People who knew the old you prefer to keep you defined by the old you.  It makes them feel better about their own rationalization or lack of progress, and it eliminates the need to understand why and how you have changed.  We cannot escape the temptations of the world, nor can we defeat them through our own strength.

"Choosing to walk with God is a series of choices.  It is submitting, every day, over and over, remaining in a holy state of dependence at all times.  We don't have to fight the enemy of sin.  We merely need to resist him and allow the Lord to fight on our behalf.

"We will never be tempted beyond what we can handle; we will always be given an escape route.  Watch for the exit signs and be ready to move."

by Kristin Armstrong, Happily Ever After
(end quote)

When I first came to know the Lord personally, I went through a huge transformation in just a few short summer months at a Bible camp where I worked as a counselor between my freshman and sophmore years of college.  I began the summer fresh out of a wild couple years of partying and carousing, both with my high school friends and those I met in my first year of college.  When I returned from that summer, I was so on fire for the Lord that I really shocked my old friends by my refusal to party with them or even joke about the things I used to, and instead caused them to think I was some kind of Jesus freak the way I just went on and on about my new-found faith and excitement for the Lord.  Looking back, I was still a pretty weak Christian in those days, floating along in the emotional high of conversion, but not really prepared for the battle against sin and backsliding that awaited me a few more months down the road.  I thought I could defeat the temptations in my own strength and in the power of my heightened emotions and love for Jesus.  I soon learned how wrong I was. Old friends who knew me before my transformation knew my weaknesses and could easily play upon them, luring me back into the old ways of sin.  Dependence on emotion and one's own strength is never the way to defeat sin. It truly involves submitting day by day, choice by choice, to choose God's way.

Now I'm in a new place in life.  The temptations aren't always the obvious ones of my youth.  Just navigating relationships with total honesty, no more hiding or people-pleasing, seems to be even harder than resisting a night of sinful indulgences was in earlier years.   And I'm learning that it's still a daily struggle, a daily submitting to God in every choice.  To walk in faith, speak the truth in love, even when it hurts, and trust God for the outcome.  To believe that God can renew and strengthen broken lives.  No more hiding. When others try to remind me of things done in the past, ways I behaved, I don't need to rationalize. That was then. This is now.  God has opened my eyes to the truth about myself and how I was living in denial and dishonesty for years.  I am no longer afraid to be who I am and speak my truth.  Well, that's a lie right there, of course it's still a scary thing to do.  So I need to stay close to the Father every day, depending on Him to help me in every single situation where I am fearful of speaking truthfully.  That is my truth.  my weakness.  Thank you, Jesus, for holding my hand and helping me overcome.  amen.

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