It may sound silly, but it can almost become second nature to avoid sharing the hard things. You can become REALLY good at sweeping the harder things under the rug, all while managing to share just enough. I say all of this because I was strongly convicted of this very thing. It’s not that I give you false material as a reader, but sometimes I tend to leave out things that aren’t so pretty. And who am I not to be fully and totally transparent with this space the Lord has provided for us? I want to share with you some very cool things that happened this past week, and some not so hot times. It is so funny how we are so hung up on coming off a certain way, even in a space of anonymity. I don’t want to be bound by this any longer, and I thank the Lord for opening my blind eyes to an area of my heart that I was trying to keep in the dark. I was reminded of Mark 4:22: “For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light.”
The last few nights have been hard around my household. Long story short, the neighbors have been really difficult to live near. I promise, I am going somewhere with this story! So hang in there with me. I have wanted to be extremely intentional with those that live around me because I want to build relationships that ultimately lead to opportunities to talk about Christ. Now, I know not every personality is the exact same and not everyone will immediately be “BFF’s,” but I do love community and the potential for people to come to know Christ as Saviour like I have. But these particular neighbors I haven’t gotten to know at all and I never see them during the day. It is only after midnight that they begin their ritual of slamming their door every five seconds, and being belligerent to the point where I could not stand the idea of even being kind to them.
I know I have shared in previous blogs about having the root sin of anger as a mainstay on my Tree of Unrighteousness. But I thought those days were for the most part over. I really did, you all! I thought I had a clear record lately and had been seeing a real difference in this area of my life. Now, this is not to say that I am squeaky clean and scot-free in the area of anger. But I have definitely seen the fruits (especially in my marriage) of obeying the Lord. And oh my goodness, just when I think that this sin, at this level, would be a thing of the past… I was so wrong. Now, I said I was going to be extremely transparent with you. So let me just say these neighbors were on my serious last nerve, and this particular night all I could do was think about how I might retaliate against them.
Should I confront them against my husband’s request? Should I go out there and make a big scene? These were things I kept going over in my head. All night long (well beyond 3 am). I wasn’t meditating on God’s Word or asking my husband to pray with me. I don’t know about you, but once my heart is so full of anger, I feel like my heart is in no place to worship or pray even though these are the moments when I should, more than ever. But at this time I felt like there was just no way I could get over this. We both were woken up multiple times, both unable to sleep, and I was in an absolutely horrible mood.
So after all this time I finally got comfortable. And then my husband moved briskly and woke me up from the little sleep I was getting. That was all it took. I got angry and sinned against my husband in that moment. All my anger, frustration, and more anger was released in his direction. I began to spew words and got even more angry when he didn’t respond. I was so filled with rage and absolutely unwilling to stop and flea from the temptation to sin further. I accused him of not caring very much and proceed to go off and lie in the other room by myself. I was being a bit dramatic, but it was so early in the morning, and I was still so raging on the inside that I decided there was no other way. I was upset at something completely different, but projected all of this on to him.
But oh, the beauty of grace! It is such a sweet and mighty gift the Lord has given to us. While sitting alone and thinking what went wrong in that situation, I did something new. Instead of staying mad, I eventually came to a point where I began to just talk to the Lord. Normally, my mind would be so overrun with thoughts and my flesh would be so set in its way. But, I just started to talk to Him and didn’t say anything special. As a matter of fact, I started conversing as if I was on the phone with a friend. I was saying, “Lord, what happened? What was that about? I thought I was over anger like that. I was so upset at the circumstance that I didn’t even think of you.” Among other things, I expressed to Him that I have nothing positive to share with people, so therefore I am not ready to do a blog for this week. I was set on not turning one in.
That was when I was reminded of something we read in What is the Gospel? Greg Gilbert said, “I have known so many people who would say something like, ‘Yes, I’ve accepted Jesus as Savior, so I am a Christian. But I’m just not ready to accept him as Lord yet.’” He goes on to say, “Moreover, to have faith in Jesus, is at its core, to believe that he really is who he says he is—the crucified and risen King who has conquered death and sin, and who has the power to save. Now how could a person believe all that, trust in it, and rely on it, and yet at the same time say, ‘But I don’t acknowledge that you are King over me’? That doesn’t make any sense.” Funny thing. I marked that part of the book as I was reading it and I just remember thinking how true this was, and feeling as if I am so guilty of this. Gilbert went on to reference Matthew 6:24: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (NIV).
And I sat on this for a long time and thought to myself, “Am I serving my flesh too?” Have I accepted Him as Lord in every area of my life? Have I given Him full reign in everything? Or am I holding on for dear life until things hit the fan and you can see my true feelings? There is no doubt that we will sin, but to willfully sin in that moment as I did was evidence that I say with my mouth that He is Lord, but I haven’t surrender Lordship in every area of my life to Him. It is much easier to say these things, but to truly mean them is entirely different. I expect not to be perfect, but it is amazing to me how bent out of shape I can get when I am pressed with a situation to handle things in a practical, biblical manner. Someone once told me, “ You know, I would say Jesus is all these things to me when I thought I was real spiritual. But it wasn’t until I had no other choice to believe, did I then finally mean it.” I want to mean it now. He has given me no reason to doubt Him! But for some reason I continue to try and do this walk on my own.
I pray that we never get complacent with our sin, but we cut it at the root. I know how easy it is to sit back and get comfortable. Maybe even a little prideful at the idea that we have, in our own strength conquered that sin that doesn’t rear it’s ugly head as much as it use to. But only in Him is anything possible, only in His strength can we find any freedom from sin. I pray that we look to Him to find strength, and never look to self. We live with this flesh everyday, but we don’t have to be ruled by it. That is so exciting to me, because in Christ you can chose how you respond to the flesh. And in the Lord’s strength is how you will overcome it. I pray that we not only say these things with our lips, but that our hearts are full of belief and faith in Him.
All for His Glory