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See Part 2 here.
See Part 3 here.
See Part 4 here.
See Part 5 here.
See Part 6 here.
See Part 7 here.
See Part 8 here.
Mom got pretty sick the last week. One of the treatments was causing her some problems. None were, to my knowledge, immediately lethal; but it caused the doctors to roll back some of the treatments at least until things could level out.
My parents lived in a hotel for the bulk of the week, and since my mom isn’t doing all the treatments, they even let her go home.
No one is panicking in any way, and most feel that the most important part of the treatment is still under way. But where I had more confidence this battle would be over soon, I’m wondering how these changes to the treatment affect the chances that the tumor will be small enough to pull out completely. It’s not a setback with her prognosis, but we’re not fighting with the number of weapons we thought were available. The truth is the only thing we need is God. He’ll work through doctors, but if he doesn’t want this to work, it won’t. I’m just hoping my mom’s sickness (the illness caused by the treatment) passes, and we can get back to using the whole arsenal of treatments. We’ll just have to see. Nevertheless, I’m thinking about her progress in the battle as I think about my progress with living a more Godly life.
The fact is, I slipped. That word has a kind connotation that I’ll let stand, but it’s a term worth investigating in yourself.
I think some people believe a person wakes up and openly declares, “I’m going to sin today.”
First off, every person sins every day. We’re human; it’s what we do. As humans, we rank offenses to create morals and societal codes, but God doesn’t have such a measuring stick. Sin is offensive to him.
I’ve always been hyper aware of most of my shortcomings and a good number of my sinful habits I need to turn from. The thing is, I think temptation, and in some cases the devil, work in ways each person has opened themselves up to. I don’t know about you; I can only speak about me and my shortcomings.
Sometimes temptation hits me like a hammer.
It can be a dream. I happen to believe that we’re accountable for our dreams as we are for our random thoughts. I don’t pretend to say I have control of my dreams, but God ordained it so the Jews would crucify their savior. Even though God made it happen, they’re still responsible for their actions. This was something the church I attend actually spoke about recently. I’m also big on responsibility. I declare that everything in my life is somehow my fault. I may not be completely (or even mostly) to blame, but for me to deny any blame for my situation is for me to admit I have no effect on the world around me.
Temptation can be an unexpected conflict. I’m at my worst when conflict comes without time or preparation. That’s when I feel the desire to be angry or judgmental, two things at which I’m particularly good.
Those, let’s call them, sudden battles are often more visual. I’ve had friends approach me and tell me they were proud of how I’d handle this situation or that. I’ve even woken myself up a time or two. While more visual, I’m not certain they’re the more dangerous types of temptation. I wish I could tell you I overcome sin more than I don’t, but I’m just not sure. I’m afraid (which means it’s probably true) I succumb more often than I don’t. That said, I think I’m far more victorious in those more-intense, short term battles than I am against the thing I want to discuss in this segment.
Temptation can be a combination of whispers and time. Again, I can’t pretend to know what it’s like for others, but for me, I can go on a huge streak where I feel I’m doing well (relative to the Bell curve that is humanity). But have you ever felt like temptation was metaphorically whispering gently in year ear for a whole day? A week? A month? While I might say I’ve won a victory or two against those sudden, visual battles with temptation. I don’t know that I’ve ever won against this particular form of temptation.
I think people hear on occasion that they need to keep their eyes on God. I’ve even spoken about one of my favorite little catch phrases, “Orient on God.” The fact is though, this takes consistent, vigilant effort. However, when temptation is whispering in my ear, like a dripping faucet or a song I can’t stop humming, it only takes one instant of a glance for temptation to take hold of me.
Once temptation gets a foot in the door, regardless of whether it’s a hammer that cracks your frame or a whisper that seeps from under the door, it’s all the more difficult to expel because you’ve already let it in.
So how does one shore up that door? I’m aware of the passage regarding the armor of God, but I don’t actually recall it. It’s all well and good to have armor, but if you put on the breast plate after you’ve already been stabbed, how effective is it?
For me, I’m constantly aware of my frame of mind and my triggers. The thing is, I’m human. This is egotistical to say, but I’m pretty good at thinking about a lot of things at once. So it’s hard to focus all my attention on any one thing. This leads me to my point.
We glance from God all the time. Perhaps you don’t like that accusation. Very well, I glance from God all the time. I don’t do it maliciously. But the moment our motivation for what we’re doing isn’t “glorify God,” we’re turning from him. Setbacks happen from time to time. Those setbacks can’t be how the devil pulls us from God. It’s an odd compromise, knowing that you’ll always be a sinner forgiven by God because of Jesus’s sacrifice, and feeling like if one were going to sin anyway, the may as well.
I’m not claiming to be saved because I don’t sin. I’m claiming to be saved because Jesus died for all my sins — past, present, or future. The point is we can’t simply let sin creep in simply because of our savior’s sacrifice.
So how do I respond to setbacks? I usually take it as a sign I’ve turned from God, and I need to turn back. I’m most alarmed when some of my more-continuous battles are lost.
Please don’t think of it like a meter. I think that’s the wrong idea at least. I don’t want to present the idea of, “Oops, I sinned! Guess I need a few more gallons of God juice on the way home.”
What I do think is, “Wow! I’m not keeping my mind on God, much less pleasing him.”
In his book, The problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis asserts pain is a reminder to focus on God. Could that be what’s happening with my mom? Honestly, it could be that. I don’t know that it is. To claim such knowledge would be to claim to know God’s plan. I’ll never do that. The action I take is the only course of action I can think to take.
While I can’t kneel in prayer every minute of every day, I can increase the amount of things I do. I can read more of The Bible. I can memorize verses. Some people do that, I’m not sure how I feel about the concept, and to ponder this would take a lot of time and distract from this train of thought. One thing I’ve started doing is listening to Christian music. I’ve been a huge fan of Flyleaf for years. So when I work out (which is another good thing to do regularly), I listen to that. I find that I think of sin less when I have a great song stuck in my head. While I’m a fan, this isn’t a direct endorsement of Flyleaf. It’s an endorsement for Christian Rock, and (more importantly) Christian media.
These scares and setbacks can work to bring us closer to God so long as we don’t stop the actions that helped us. Don’t take the armor of God off to begin with. Sleep in it. Live in it. Fight in it. I imagine most people take that metaphorical armor off on occasion. That’s when I think temptation attacks. When it does, win or lose, I’ll get my armor back on, and see what I can do to remember to keep it on.
The more I do so, the more likely I am to keep my mind focused on him, which is the point.
Questions and Revelations
Does God really “hurt” people to bring them to him?
Again, Mr. Lewis asserts so. A recent sermon at church said sometimes pain is given to teach. Sometimes it’s given to punish. Sometimes it just is. This life isn’t meant to be perfect and good all the time. I don’t have any scripture to back up each statement (I’d be grateful if anyone offered some). However, the punish and teach boxes are checked. I’d spoken about David. God hardened the pharaoh’s heart, leading him to keep the Jews, causing God to take all the first-born children of Egypt. That miracle was one of many to prove God’s existence and his power.
The short answer is yes. So remember that each time you sin. I’m not declaring every sin is brutally punished with Biblical amounts of pain. I am stating that God has the sovereignty to punish sins as he sees fit. That makes me wonder though, am I the only guy who’s immediately afraid right after sinning?
Think about your parents. You ever do something, and feel a huge sense of relief after you get away with it? What about when everything goes south, and you realize your parents are going to find out. How afraid do you get in those situations?
Now, consider the fact that God already knows everything we did, are doing, and will do. So I’m afraid a large amount of time.
Why doesn’t it stop you from sinning?
First, I don’t believe that anyone, saved or not, is without sin. I need to say that because my honest answer to the above question is, “Because I’m human.”
I just don’t let that give me a free pass to sin more or more egregiously as measured by society.
If you have other questions regarding my faith or thoughts or actions at this point, feel free to ask, and I’ll add them to the blog. I try to ensure these passages are self reflective. My chaplain told me to take this opportunity to look at myself, but at the moment, those were the only real thoughts going through my mind. Questions might help me remember other thoughts or parts of The Bible I’d overlooked while typing this post.
Thanks for reading