Sunday, October 1, 2017

For Me

Have you ever struggled with sin?  Ever found it difficult to stop behaving in a certain way that you knew wasn't good for you? Perhaps you drink too much and want to stop, but find yourself still pouring that glass at the end of the day. Maybe it's a sexual behavior and you're finding pleasure in promiscuity only to have it give way to feelings of guilt and shame when it's over.  Pornography? You want to stop watching, but the strength of what you see pulls you in one more time.  Addicted to stealing? The rush you get is one from which you want to be free, but you haven't been able to break that chain.  We've all got something and from mid-2015 to January of this year when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I  experienced self-inflicted heartache and struggle on an unprecedented level.  Like Jacob, who wrestled with God (Genesis 32:22-32), I regularly fought with God, myself, and others, and like Jonah, who ran from the call of God (Jonah 1:3), I, likewise, fled the Lord's summons.  I stepped deep into pits of my own sin and rebellion, and I watched as my family unit disintegrated under the tumultuous battle between good and evil, righteousness and wickedness.  Recently, however, I have come to realize that despite the chaos and storms raging around and within, even when I am against me, God is still always for me (Romans 8:31).

Friday, September 1, 2017

It Takes the Rain

Back in January, I was still working in Orange County so the commute home always took me on the I-57 North, which, if you're familiar with Southern California freeways, then you know that this one takes you through some small rolling hills before hitting the I-10. I drove through these peaks daily, but rarely noticed the beauty they offer until after a week or so of regular rainfall.  Instead, I mostly grumbled about having to drive in the downpour (pictured below) and sit in bumper to bumper traffic.  I dislike driving in wet conditions as it is, and most residents of the state will readily admit to being spoiled by the usually sunny conditions, so when our rainy season hits, people nearly lose their minds.  It's as if we all forget how to drive when water strikes.  Our interstates are jammed packed already without precipitation, but throw a storm into the mix and it looks like what L.A. dubbed "Carmageddon" in 2011 when the I-405 temporarily shut down.  Simply put, many of us, while keenly aware of the need for it, don't like the rain, at least not while driving.  On January, 12, however, I was heading home through the hills after the week of storms had subsided and I was caught off guard by how beautifully green the landscape looked as I passed by (see pictures below).  It was as if I was seeing everything for the first time.  Had it always looked so colorfully vibrant and just missed my attention or was there really a difference? There was just something deeper and richer about the shade of green than what it had been before the week of storms, and it wasn't long after that when I realized the sweet parallels in the spiritual realm - To see clearly, sometimes it takes the rain.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Choose Wisely

It's okay I felt His Spirit say.  After what I had just done, it seemed incomprehensible that His message to me would be one of consolation. I had just done the unthinkable, after all.  In a single moment I made the very mistake I had unknowingly been planning to make all along. The waves of forbidden desire finally emerged from my mind's shadow and came crashing into the shoreline of my moral compass, or as Freud would call it, my superego.  The gratification and pleasure I derived from it all slowly faded into a black hole of guilt and shame, despair and confusion. How could I have let this happen? I silently and anxiously questioned as I fought back the tears that tried to fall. I was horrified to have come face to face with the sinfulness and depth of evil in my own heart. You see, we rarely just make a bad decision or engage in a particular mistake on the spur of the moment. Before there's action, there was thought.  Contemplation. Consideration.   We entertained the idea of the sin before we acted out the crime.  You didn't just kill that person.  A thought occurred before the trigger was pulled.  Even in the most instantaneous and reflexive self-defense response, the thought preceded the pulled trigger.  You didn't just fall into bed with the attractive co-worker.  You first thought it through and imagined what it would be like.  Your nose didn't just accidentally snort the line of cocaine.  Your mind ingested it before your body ever did.  You simply followed the thought trail that led you to it.  The wisdom in Proverbs 4:23 that says "carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source of true life" is undeniable for it is in our thoughts that sin is first conceived.  In my own scenario, instead of starving those ruminations, I fed them daily over a period of months. The next step was, inevitably, a painful one.