There are so many things vying for your attention during an average day, It’s sometimes easy to forget the principles you learn during your quiet time with God or from the sermon you heard Sunday.
On Monday mornings you can wake excited about starting a new week, especially after hearing what the pastor preached on Sunday. You start out feeling, “I got it, I really got it!” You jump out of bed, shower and dress, make coffee and sit with the yesterday’s notes, the bible and intense determination.
Reading the word and perusing the notes brings a sense of purpose and direction and you can’t wait for others to see the glow you have from what you’ve learned. You “put on your armor” and recite Ephesians 6:10-11, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Then, you begin your journey, step into your car and….it won’t start. Oh oh, that armor is already receiving dings. Once the car gets going, you are still determined to keep the positive attitude and reach for the radio to find a station playing uplifting Christian music for the drive. Then you arrive at your destination and people all around you start reminding you of deadlines, presenting you with new problems, and shooting at you with a myriad of questions that cannot be answered immediately. You don’t even realize the high you’ve been ensconced in is wearing off. You throw yourself into automatic pilot and do what it is you do to successfully accomplish the tasks at hand.
The day moves along and in the background you hear yourself saying things that you cannot believe are coming out of your mouth, especially after what you learned about the tongue. Proverbs 18:21, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Yet, knowing seems not to be enough and you are almost like an observer of your own actions and words. Unfortunately, because of your responsibilities, you feel you are too busy to stop and regroup so you continue on your day’s journey allowing your mind to become cluttered with “stuff.”
You meet some friends for lunch and the conversation is far from uplifting yet you keep up with all that is being said and even participate in some of it. The still small voice that reminds you to take heed as to what you listen to seems to be getting duller and duller as you become enrapt in the banter. Then back to the grind and doing what is right in God’s sight is a distant memory as you continue on the path of status quo and moving with the crowd. By 4:00 pm, nothing you were determined to accomplish in the morning has happened and in fact, your day has taken a turn for the ordinary and mediocre with a helping of que sera sera.
I remember having one of those days. It was frightening to me since I had such a high opinion of where I had come. I really felt like I was having an out-of-body experience during the encounter I had. It was as if I was watching myself but it really wasn’t me saying and doing the things that I was. The worst part of it was the way I felt afterwards. I remember calling a Christian sister and crying that I was useless to God because I had messed up so badly and how could He possibly use me when I was so imperfect. Her simple encouragement was, “that’s why we need Jesus.” That calmed me a little but it took a while for me to forgive myself and even longer to understand that we are not perfect and are merely flesh and blood. What did encourage me was the scripture in Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Some of us were brought up in an atmosphere of doing things to get attention and approval. As children we learned early that when we wanted something, we could beg, cry and manipulate or simply perform to the delight of others. That’s where works comes into play. The more we do, the more approval we get or the more materials we accumulate. That mentality seeps into our Christian walk, simply because it is a habit that needs to be broken. It takes time to realize that God is not impressed with our works, or accomplishments or our successes. He is impressed with our faith and pleased by it according to Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
One of the hardest transformations to make in our walk is having the understanding that once we are saved by grace and not by works; our sins, our mistakes, our failures and even our screw-ups are no longer an issue to God. When Jesus died on the cross, he took them all (past, present and future). It takes resolve to overcome the difficulty many have in accepting God’s readiness to forgive us.
Well it is now the end of the day, you are back home and when you look into the mirror (the bible) to assess the day, you see your armor is not only dinged, but just about gone. What happened? How could something that began so right end up so wrong? The key to growth is simple. Once we see that we have missed the mark (that is really what sin is), and we get in touch with the feelings we have of remorse and humility, all we have to do is say we’re sorry.
You may ask, “Is it really that easy, just say I’m sorry?” Yes it is! God isn’t standing up in Heaven with a baseball bat ready to beat our brains in when we mess up. His whole purpose is to love us. Love and beatings are not synonymous. In fact, His Word is very specific about how little He holds against us and what we have to do. In 1John 1:9, the Bible tells us “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” It does not say He might forgive us or He could forgive us, it simply states, He will forgive us. Now the trick is to forgive ourselves!