I recently found myself in a moment of despair when I was greeted by the humbling truth that no matter how far I progress in my walk with God, I will always be subject to temptation and battles of the flesh. It's not that I expected to suddenly be free from it all at a certain location on my life's road map, yet I suppose I had subconsciously hoped that one day I would arrive to destination purity whereby I would be miraculously immune to the seductions of the world around me. Seems I forgot the parts in the Bible when even Jesus was tempted, and I'm not sure who I thought I was to hope for freedom from spiritual warfare, but for a minute over the last couple of months I almost became too confident in my own strengths. I was given a reminder recently that I'm of no strength at all, and today I'm intimately aware of my own shortcomings as a servant of the Lord. However, as disheartening as that truth has the power to be, instead I find the cognizance of my own tendencies toward temptation a beautiful commemoration of God's grace, mercy, and compassion. This morning during my staggering moment of realization, my knees hit the floor and I asked God to give me strength to choose Him, His ways, and His will, and as I heard the words that came from my mouth I realized the significance of what I asked - I specified my request to the exact moment I was in. I was so overwhelmed with emotion and heartache that I didn't even have the strength to ask Him for anything beyond the here and now - which is exactly what He wanted.
I heard Joyce Meyer once say that where our thoughts go, our bodies follow, or more specifically, "where the mind goes, the man follows," and I've found this to be especially true when it comes to my own weaknesses. I've discovered that I have an amazing ability to mentally detach from the immediate world around me when I allow my thoughts to travel to far away destinations. I detach to such a degree that I can actually feel the physical caress of a circumstance even if it's thousands of miles away. Though in reality I'm not jumping on a plane, Joyce is right because my body is all but gone. I found myself in such a moment earlier today and I begged God to bring me back to the here and now with Him. He did. Within a matter of minutes my mind was infused with images from over the years when my soon to be seven year old son, Ashton, has apologized to me after making a mistake. Before he even finishes "I'm sorry," I'm always ready to wrap him in my arms and assure him that it's okay. What's more is that long before our children ever even consider saying the words, as parents, the back corners of our minds and hearts are already longing for the reunion. His apologetic words, genuine concern for upsetting me, and his beautiful heart have the power to break through my anger on any day. As my memory became flooded with these images I knew God was telling me that He felt the same way about me.
For the first time after succumbing to the temptation of letting my mind travel to far away places, I didn't feel guilt; I felt hope, I felt forgiven, I felt loved, I felt comforted, and I felt more secure in His arms than ever before. I felt God telling me that He understood my weaknesses and shortcomings better than I do and that He loves me every time I fail, every time I stumble, and most importantly, every time I return to Him seeking forgiveness. I felt Him telling me that He loves to love me and all that "me" entails, and in that moment of pellucid awareness over my own weaknesses and faults, I felt absolutely beautiful - not in despite of them but because of them.
Don't dismiss your weaknesses as worthless faults that lead only to dead ends. There is in each of them more healing, transformation, and teaching power than you can imagine if you'll just immerse every transgression, every mishap, every crime, every wrongdoing, every weakness - with God's grace. Let your addiction drown in His strength, your broken heart in His healing, your envious spirit in His generosity, your pride in His humility, your anger in His mercy. If you're entangled, as I've often been, in a web of confusion, emotion, and heartache over how to move forward, then stop and put all of your energy into the only place you have with certainty - the here and now. Don't work so hard at figuring out how you're going to overcome something six months from now. Focus on overcoming it in this moment only, and if you're given another moment after that, thank God and then focus on that one. Don't live in the past or future; live in the moment of where you are right here and now, and when temptation comes, fight it hand in hand with God - one "here and now" moment at a time.
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. " - Psalm 46:1
P.S. HAPPY VETERANS DAY TO ALL OF OUR AMAZING AND HEROIC VETERANS! YOU ARE CHERISHED AND LOVED MORE THAN YOU KNOW. MAY GOD BLESS YOU ALL.
Image taken from www.walking-on-water.org