Friday, February 25, 2011

Perseverance vs. Insanity

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. A good example of this in my past would be an unhealthy relationship that was a disaster from the beginning. But, I was stubborn and determined, and no matter how many times he hurt me or let me down, I would stay by his side. I thought that if I stuck around long enough, he would change- he would see that I was someone worth treating well.

Fast forward two and a half years. Yes, years. My life had become the definition of insanity. I was trying so hard, working harder than I had at anything in my entire life. And time after time, no result. Insanity.

So, how is that different in our Christian walk? I was working out today and thought that listening to Jay Pathak's sermon on perseverance would be good to listen to while sweating an toiling. I listened to the same sermon yesterday as well at the gym, and was really inspired by his message. When I listened to it today, I heard more layers. While I was working the biceps, his definition of perseverance really struck me: "Doing the same thing over and over again, even if it's small, and expecting a HUGE result." How is this different than insanity? I've heard that Jesus was either speaking the truth and He was The Christ, or what He was saying was completely false and he was a lunatic. In the same sense, by being a follower of Jesus I am either continually being sanctified by His grace or I am a complete looney.

What is it that makes perseverance different than insanity? I don't have the answer for everyone. But the thing that makes my repeated actions perseverance and not insanity is Hope. I have a very real hope and knowledge in the Truth that this is not as good as life gets. I know that my consistent disciplines of confessing sin, entering into God's presence, and just plain old walking the rocky path of life will refine me in a way that will constantly leave me pointing the attention to the Holiness of God. I know that my actions will not earn me heaven, but they will allow me the opportunity to experience this side of God's Kingdom amidst the crazy darkness of the world.

I don't have to move miles at a time. Millimeters. Tiny, baby steps. It can be as simple as not being lazy. Not lying. Reading the Bible regularly. Not being as selfish. Not spending money we don't have. Putting down the bottle, fork, the syringe- and running in confidence to the throne of grace. It's not easy, but the more we do it, the more it becomes part of how we deal with life. It doesn't make things go away, but it helps to ensure the bad things in life do not define who we are.

Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result.

Perseverance: Doing the same thing over and over again while knowing the eventually, through the grace of God, something will change.

Grace and Peace.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Forgiveness OR What does it mean to truly love?

When I was a child I heard, saw and experienced things that no child needs to. It left my pretty confused and guarded as an adult. One of those things was being a victim of emotional abuse by my father. The truth is that when he was a kid, he was emotionally hurt pretty badly by his biological father, and it left him in a place where he wasn't sure who to trust and how to love. But, as a kid, I didn't know that and it surely wasn't my fault.

When I became a Christian at 16, I started understanding what it was like not to be afraid of people. I began to open myself up to some, and though my home life was falling apart, I was able to talk about some of it. I went to a Christian college when I was 18, and when I started hearing about who my Heavenly Father is, I saw a sharp contrast to the man who helped raise me.

I still fear that at some point, God will reach His limits with my "work in progress" status and withhold His grace. I want to know how many times I have to sin before God bans me from His presence. He says that He loves me with no strings attached. He says that His love is patient, kind, selfless, and that it never fails. The hurt and untrusting girl in me is calling His bluff. Don't get me wrong- I am not trying to wreck my life again (#beentheredonethat), but I long to know the fullness of His grace, the infinite power of His mercy, and the depths of His love.

Why do I want to know all this? Because this Sunday at church, my pastor wrecked my life with his sermon about forgiveness. He said that if we are wondering how many times we have to forgive someone before we get revenge, the problem is that we are counting. I have a healthy boundary with my father now. That boundary includes me keeping complete distance from him. I don't think that it's forever, but it is for now.

What I desire is to fully experience and know what it is to be forgiven "no strings attached" by God. I want to be able to say confidently "I am forgiven," and truly understand what I am saying. I want to be able to extend that to those around me, so that they too can feel the fullness of the Father's love.

Grace and Peace.