Some years ago my mother in-law from my first marriage called on a Sunday morning while my husband and children had gone to church. I had decided to stay home to clean the kids’ bedrooms without interruption. She asked why I was not in church with the rest of the family. I told her I was cleaning instead. Her comment to me was, “all sinners should go to church.” I allowed her comment to bother and hurt me for a number of days before I finally prayed for her asking the Lord to bless her and change me.
We “saints who sin” (taken from Neil T. Anderson; Victory Over The Darkness) have a wonderful message to share; that Jesus Christ came to earth to die on the cross in our place saving us from the punishment of our sins so we can have a restored union with the heavenly father who is perfect love and holiness. But wait! That’s only part of the gospel. Yes, the best part I agree. That’s the part that affects you for eternity so take care of first things first. But there’s more and it ties in to the example I just gave about my now deceased mother in-law.
The gospel of Jesus Christ does not stop at getting saved. The gospel also to shows us what to do when we experience hardship (Rom 12:1-21). Like the experience I had with my mother in-law. No matter what we are human and in this human experience there will be pain and confusion. We WILL fall. We WILL be tempted (Rom 3:23). Jesus experienced everything we will in some way to some extent. By doing so he showed us exactly how to respond to the world around us in a right manner after we become believers because we will still struggle with sin. He will tell us each personally in our own spirit and by his word (the Holy Bible) exactly what to do, what to say, or what not to say. He will move us in the direction he wants us to move in. But learning to hear his still small voice in our heart takes time. Then making the effort to act on the Holy Spirit's leading takes willingness.
Deep foundational change does not take root over night. Just like nursing the sting of that one comment for almost a week when I knew I needed to forgive her. How much is still rolling around inside of me that I don’t even realize? There are things that happened before I was a believer still lurking in the depths of my soul that need to be brought to the light (Dan 2:22). Even after we come to Jesus we still might not know what to do with daily hurts from the world or the past hurts hiding inside. Sometimes I still don’t handle those hurts the best way I should. Life is life. We all have some recovery work to do (Romans 5:3-5).
Sanctification is a process we have to be actively involved in. We are called to work out our salvation. As I have prayed on that God has revealed to me that working out our salvation is an on purpose thing. It involves actively seeking God (Jer.29:14). Everyday we need to put God first in prayer and reading His word. Our relationship with Him has to be priority. Make this a realistic priority or it won’t get done. I need to get my kids off to school before I have quiet time for prayer. Find what works for you. The important part is that God is number one and you don’t get too far into your day without nurturing your relationship with Him. Could you imagine getting up on Saturday morning and not speaking to your spouse or your children all day? No matter what they do to get your attention you just keep going about your business like they don’t even exist. Can you imagine the look of hurt on their faces? Like, hey what did we do? Don’t you love us anymore? How do you think God our Father feels when we start going about our day forgetting all about Him; just ignoring Him? All the while He’s trying to bless us. He’s trying to make us smile, make us laugh and we just keep moseying on like nothing. Do you think this is what it means to grieve the Holy Spirit? In part yes. We can grieve the Holy Spirit in other ways too but this is certainly one way. Many people do this everyday. Instead, we are called to live in relation with him. As we live in relation with him God will guide us in our healing process.
Let’s say you run into an old friend who suggests a book which happens to be on a topic you’re dealing with right at that time in your life. Maybe a few days later you pick up a magazine and there’s an article about someone’s testimony on the very same topic. Then you’re driving in the car and the Holy Spirit nudges you deep inside to turn on the radio. So you him- haw a little before turning on the radio. As the song comes on the words begin to resignate in your ears. It's about the same thing and it hits you right to the core. That is Jesus leading you to healing through the Holy Spirit. You just had to be willing to hear the friend, read the article, listen to the song.
Once the wound is brought to light by the Holy Spirit in these different ways; we need to be willing to allow Jesus' into the emotional wound to heal us. It is not enough to acknowledge the pain is there then push it back down and forget about it. This is something I did for most of my life. My emotions completely controlled me. Since I had not ever learned how to control my emotions I became afraid of any emotional pain associated with past or present circumstances. I was used to running from it or burying it. I didn't know how to get to the other side. In the beginning of my healing process I didn't even know there was another side. I had never forced myself to go through it. When God brought some piece of darkness inside of me to light it was always to heal me not hurt me. However, all I had exerienced was the the hurt not the healing. Eventually, I learned how to cling to the truth of God's word in the midst of the pain while going through the process. As a new believer I had no idea how to do this though. Different resources were placed in my path a number of ways. Books and teaching CD's by Joyce Meyer, Neil T. Anderson, Cloud &Townsend, John & Stasi Eldredge all helped me learn how to apply God's word in my daily life effectively. I was careful to screen the material. If it went against the Bible I did not view it as a reliable learning source. God's word has the answers. As a new believer it may be hard to figure out what those answers are. Biblically based resources (books, teaching CD's, music, etc.) can be very helpful. They do not substitute our need to learn God's word but they can help carry us through daily life and healing from the past while we build a relationship with Jesus Christ.
God continually shows us exactly where to start. The Lord Jesus Christ is our great healer. Jesus is the only answer yet he puts people and things in our path to help do His work. Isn’t it exciting that we are tapped into the only true healing source there is! We just need to do our part by allowing the Spirit to guide us to the light of truth found in His word. We also need to use the tools He places in our path. Whether it be a person, a book, a song- keep an open mind and heart but be wise. By doing so we will Learn to Live Free in Christ, One Day at A Time-Amen!
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