19 December 2011

growing up

I appreciate patience, favor and grace. This has been extended to me greatly in my life. I also appreciate truth and correction. It may not be my absolute favorite thing at the time but I know the good fruit it produces when paired with a willing spirit. Hebrews 12:11 has been a key scripture for me in my development as I have learned that just as in growing up in chronological time, in the Spirit discipline is a factor to maturity. Over time and trial we learn what is acceptable, pleasing and good. We  are taught early on that we cannot do everything we want to do just because we feel like it nor can we have everything just because we want it and feel we have a right to it.

In any case, I am considering these things today as I celebrate 18 years of relationship with the Lord. On a cold December 19 I made the good confession that Jesus is Lord and I was baptized into a new life. That was the best Christmas present I have ever received. Nothing could compare. I remember being so happy, so excited about what was to come. I am so excited and moved to write this out because of a situation that happened today. 

I was talking briefly with a friend and I brought up something that encouraged me. It is a simple phrase that made me think a little differently about life, "Is there any reason that we should fail?" This simple phrase helped me to frame something in my mind. When I heard it, the response in my spirit was an oft-quoted passage that I really enjoy in the Amplified:

13  I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].
Philippians 4:13

I'm finally beginning to understand this. I shared this with my friend and began to tell her of some of my landmark failures that I know I allow to keep me bound and not move forward. I was recalling a couple of them when she stopped me and said, "Seriously that was so long ago. Let me help you with something. People tend to find themselves in a "stuck" place when they have a lack of forgiveness in their lives. Either toward themselves or someone else." I confessed that I know it is a lack of forgiveness toward myself. She then replied, "Unforgiveness toward self is just another form of pride. Do you really want to look at Jesus and tell Him that His life, death and resurrection were not enough for you to be forgiven because that is exactly what you are saying by holding on to this?"

As you can tell, my friend is very direct. That is one of the very reasons I so love her. She called me out on the evident sin in my life. Pride is truly like a necklace (Pssalm 73:6). I could not (would not) see it for what it obviously is, it was too close. What gives me the right to despise who the Lord loves? I get angry with people and frustrated and want to react in a certain way, but I know that it is unacceptable. Yet when it comes to tearing down myself, I allow it. This terrible way of thinking makes no sense yet I agree with the voice of the enemy to the point that I manufacture the most ungodly thoughts about myself. Then, unable to think straight (with the mind of Christ) I find ways to sabotage myself and keep this perpetual downward spiral going. And all for the sake of pride, a sin that is guaranteed to bring me low and not in the sense I want to be.

So why am I so excited about this? Now my eyes are open to see what I was blind to before. I see this for what it is. I can repent, I can move on, I can grow. I will not be able to face the next battle or go to the next place on the journey until I deal with the sin that needs to be removed from my camp. I see that I have camped at Mt. Failure in the valley of Self-Sabotage far too long simply because I felt justified in holding on to unforgiveness. I felt this is something I can do and that I had a right to express this since it's toward myself. I have been praying to be free from a cell that I was holding the keys to all this time. "Aisha God will not free you from something you are friends with." When my friend said this, my response was not one of anger, shame or rebuttal. I was instantly grateful because she was speaking the truth and I knew that I needed to repent.

A few years ago, that definitely would not have been my response. I am not sure if that would have been it a few months ago either. But today I sit here, free from the deceptive blindness of pride (at least concerning this situation) and removed from the shackles of unforgiveness. "Forgiveness is not a destination, it is a continual journey. When you feel as though you want to go back to unforgiveness decide to travel further on the road of forgiveness. This is where you will continue to find the Lord." This is where I will find His strength that will infuse and empower me. I can live a successful, obedient life. 18 years ago I was completely forgiven for everything and born into newness. Just as I have been fully forgiven I can extend that forgiveness to others and as I see now to myself. Thank God!
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