Have you ever known the right thing to do, wanted to do the right thing, said you'd do the right thing, then go right ahead and do the WRONG thing? If so, I completely understand. I do that all the time. This ranges from knowing I should do something before I forget I needed to do it, then putting it off...and forgetting about it to not eating stuff I'm allergic to but tastes so good. Shhhh... here's a secret. When I was first saved, up until a couple years ago, I had trouble leaving my old self behind. I used to drink, smoke, go clubbing and partying, and do things that you wouldn't normally associate with a Born Again Christian. Read my last blog about my driving. That was pretty normal. I worked in Ann Arbor Michigan and lived in Ferndale. I could make it home in half an hour (it's an hour and 10 minute drive). I was saved in December 1999 and the last time I went partying was October 2005. Obviously, there's a little overlap.
Every time I'd go out paryting, I'd get drunk and feel awful the next morning. I'd pray to God that I'd never do that again. Then, my girls would call and say let's go out, and there I'd go again. Dancing, drinking, smoking... A few things happened that changed my actions. First, a friend was killed. He died one night while I was out acting an idiot with some other friends. He died being chased by people who wanted to hurt him, supposedly over a cigarette, and was hit by a van that just left him there. I kind of lost it. People, I suppose they meant well thinking I wanted or needed all the details, told me all about what happened, his injuries, and the horrible way he died. I dreamed about that for weeks. I started chain smoking and we went out a couple weeks later to toast him and blow off steam. That's when the next thing happened. That night is a blur! I remember bits and parts. Neither the friend I went out with nor I remember how she drove us home. Later that week, the smoking and partying caught up with me in the form of a double lung infection. Then a situation came up at work, and I was purposely made even more ill. That situation is still too much for me to talk about without blowing a gasket. I'm still working on being a Christian about that situation.
So, all this happens, and I'm sitting at home, whacked out on medication, literally drowning in my own phlegm. I hear someone on the TV, a well known female Bible teacher that I adore, talk about the Apostle Paul's words that make up the verse of the day. All of a sudden, it clicks! First of all, how sick do I have to get, physically and spiritually, before I finally stop trying to straddle the fence? I mean, I was saved, but I wasn't living the way I should have. I was still listening to my flesh instead of my God. Secondly, by condemning myself over the mistakes I was making, I was giving the Devil too much ground. I should have been praising God for the work He was already doing in me instead of concentrating on the shrinking ground that Satan was occupying.
I wasn't doing as much dirt as I used to. I only partied a handful of times a year, normally in times of great stress. I had overcome quite a few issues and made peace with myself and others in my life. I had a great life, and it was still improving! Why was I concentrating on the negative? If the great Apostle Paul confessed to doing stuff that he knew he wasn't supposed to do, then surely I could have a little slack. How liberating that is! I'm not where I'm supposed to be, but I'm sure not where I was.
Now, I'm not going to pretend that by feeling this way I have been delivered from doing everything I shouldn't. And I am definitely not saying that we shouldn't be improving in our behavior and actions. The more of God you get in your life, the more your will is going to decrease. You won't have the desire to do the things you shouldn't. For those behaviors that are really tough, like quitting smoking or drinking, changing your actions when everyone else around you still does the same stuff, etc... it's going to take some time. For me, it meant not hanging out with some people. It meant not listening to certain music that put a desire to go out to the clubs. It meant having someone I could be accountable to - my husband. Let me tell you, the thought of facing my husband after sneaking a cigarette or something like that terrifies me. Fortunately, he knows he doesn't ever have to worry about that stuff coming into my life again.
For those new Christians, and to the ones who have been saved for a while but still struggle, let the words of Paul encourage you. Too often, the church plays like once you say the sinner's prayer and are saved, your problems go away and you never do anything wrong again. Reality steps in right away. You go home from church, and your spouse is still getting on your nerves. Your bank account hasn't magically increased, your boss is still leaving a lot to be desired in the humanity department, and you still have to wash dishes. Come on, let's get real folks. Unless God delivers you from addiction (and He can, let there be no doubt), you are still going to have cravings. Getting saved isn't a cure-all. It's a change-all. Instead of facing life's problems alone, you have serious back up! I mean, if God is for you, who can be against you?! That's even a verse in the Bible. lol Romans 8:31 says
What then shall we say to [all] this? If God is for us, who [can be] against us? [Who can be our foe, if God is on our side?} - Amplified
Here's today's verse for the day:
New International Version
Romans 7:15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.