November 3, 2012

the aftermath of disaster

before i begin this post, let me say that these words have truly been on my heart and forming for the past week. i write to you as a fellow human being and a fellow sinner who falls short of GOD'S glory continually. i write to you as one who is frequently broken but healed and mended by the grace of GOD. i am not perfect by a long shot, and any wisdom that i might even appear to have is a gift from the LORD and usually the result of a lesson that i learned from lack of wise judgment leading to a difficult experience.

in my recent conversations with people during the past week, i have noticed a recurring theme: different ways of dealing with sin. i have witnessed and realized that we all have different struggles and temptations, and therefore, we also have different ways of handling the different dilemmas that come our way.

as a young girl, i mistakenly believed that i could avoid making my own mistakes and shortcomings solely by learning from the mistakes and shortcomings of others. i thought that somehow i could protect myself from all difficult situations that i could ever face by being so good and so perfect that i became untouchable and invincible. but as i have grown older and faced situations that i could have never predicted or suspected, i have learned that satan truly is a prowling, roaring lion seeking whom he may devour and that no one can finish this race without being tainted with sin and falling short of the glory of GOD.

romans 12:2 says, "do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of GOD, what is good and acceptable and perfect." i think that many of us have the false expectation that we can discern what is good, acceptable, and perfect without being tested. that we can fully learn from other people's mistakes what not to do. that we can walk through this life guiltless and free from blame or shame. that at the end of this life we can score 100% on the test as we escaped it without temptation, blemish, or failure. but it is, in fact, by testing that we come to receive the knowledge of right and wrong and that we learn what is good, acceptable, and perfect.

in other words, we all are going to be tested at different times in our lives. unfortunately, we won't solely learn how to be pleasing to GOD or how to live righteously just from the lessons of other people. we all will struggle. we all will be tempted. and sometimes we will fall short. sometimes we will mess up. sometimes we will flat out fail. sometimes we will see the good that we wish to do and do the opposite. sometimes we will do the exact thing that we hate or the thing that we never thought that we would do.

and i believe that it is at this moment that the real testing begins: how we choose to handle the aftermath of our personal disaster. how we choose to deal with our failure and our short-falling. how we choose to proceed with the rest of our lives from the point of our mistake.

i think that there are 3 ways that we as humans deal with and handle the aftermath of our disasters. the first method is quite rare, and i believe that few choose it. it's the approach of acceptance: accepting our mistake, accepting help from other people in order to escape and to be set free, and accepting the grace offered to us through the blood of JESUS CHRIST. satan hates this solution because it goes against every lie that he tries to tell us. satan wants us to believe that we are fully human, that we will never be perfect and will always fall short, and that salvation is impossible for us to attain. but the good news is that salvation is impossible for us to attain on our own. no merit of goodness or level of action will ever earn the redemption that is offered to us.

by accepting our imperfection and our sin, we instantly start beating satan at his game. by understanding our humanity, we start realizing our struggles and the situations in which we need to be even more alert and aware for us to avoid the same mistakes in the future. by being willing to forgive ourselves, we open ourselves up to the forgiveness of others and become accepting of the forgiveness of GOD. and by directly dealing with our issues, we allow ourselves to heal and to recover, and ultimately we set ourselves up to be able to move on.

the second method in which we handle our messes is the approach of dwelling: continually dwelling on the mistake that we made, feeling inadequate or hypocritical in doing good or in teaching others what is right, and becoming paralyzed and unproductive because we no longer have a perfect record. the truth is that there are two ways of continuing in sin: the first by continuing to act sinfully and the second, which i'm addressing here, by constantly thinking about sins and mistakes of the past. this approach is the middle man, and it's extremely dangerous as we remain in a lukewarm state, unsure of whether we will return to good or proceed with evil. all we can think about day in and day out is the wrong choice or the bad situation that happened, and we become stuck in a rut of continually beating ourselves up.

half of us believes that because we no longer have a perfect, spotless record, we might as well give up and give into our temptations while the other half hopes to return to walking in the light. but we don't realize that as long as we remain dwelling in the past, even though we aren't continuing to do wrong, we are paralyzed and prevented from doing any good or right.

and the third method in which we handle our sin is the approach of surrender: feeling so dirty, helpless, and tainted that we feel there is no chance for escape or rescue. feeling so judged and misunderstood by other people that we feel we can never belong again. for those reasons, we start surrendering and giving into the sin that at one time we hated so strongly. we throw our hands in the air, limiting our GOD and limiting HIS grace by refusing to accept HIS rescue and refusing to believe that HE can do immeasurably more than all we ask or could ever imagine.

and before we know it, we start justifying: believing that GOD made us a certain way, thinking that GOD'S priority is our happiness, and even going as far as to twist scripture and GOD'S word to meet and justify our sinful living. we no longer consider what GOD wants, attempting to change our lives to fit HIS words, but we consider only what we want, changing GOD'S words to fit our lives. and this is satan's favorite because he gets us to justify a perpetual state of sin while thinking that we are good and acceptable in GOD'S sight. satan makes us fully believe that because of our circumstances or our choices that we can never be set free from the sin in which we've become entangled.

but thank heavens that we serve a GOD who isn't limited by our circumstances. who isn't limited by the consequences from the sin that we fell into. who isn't limited by the fact that we refuse to believe HE is mighty to save. who isn't limited by the fact that we don't always believe that we even need any healing or saving. who isn't limited by our choice to dwell on or to surrender to our sin.

we are all prodigal children: choosing at different times and in different ways to leave the comfort of our FATHER'S arms and to spend some time with the pigs. and in those moments, GOD must and we must let each other go and stand our inevitable moments of testing. we must all face our own struggles and temptations and attempt to determine what is good, acceptable, and perfect. we must be tested and refined by fire, and unfortunately, we will all fall short of the glory of GOD. but we serve a FATHER who is pleading, hoping, and waiting for us to return and to accept the offering of grace for which HIS only SON died.

we must realize that all who wander are not lost and that sometimes stumbling prevents a great, big fall. none of us will score 100% on the great, big test of life, and there will be moments where we do the very thing we hoped to never do. but in those moments, we have the opportunity to pass the real test of our lives: handling the aftermath of disaster.