I wanted to piggy back on ...yesterday's post about running towards God. I am learning, very slowly, but I am learning.
When I was younger and very full of zeal for our Lord, I was harsher with my words. If I saw you "sinning" I would point it out...lovingly, but pointedly nonetheless. In pointing to sin I saw, my hope was that those I loved would turn...and run. Run as far away as they could from the sin that so easily entangles.
Let me first say, the sin that I so easily saw in others was often the sin that I had struggled with, become entangled with, fought over...and victoriously vacated. I was just too proud to share my story. So, if you are reading this and I have offended you at some point, please, accept my humble apology. I never wished to judge or offend anyone. I only pointed because I love you. Wanted you to get out before you got all messed up...like me. It's so much easier just to share what I've done wrong and how I've been made right than to tell others what they are doing all wrong!
Now, today there are many, many people in my life. I walk a crowded race, thankfully. Recently, I no longer feel as compelled to point out the obvious...if they are running towards God. I do not wish to alienate any that I have relationship with because if we are speaking into one another's lives, that is good. Please hear me, if you give me permission to so speak, I will. Gently. If you share many things with me but not the elephant, I will pray until the Holy Spirit brings up the elephant. Then and only then, will I talk about it lovingly or otherwise. God has shown me there is a time to point and a time to cheer. Let me explain.
I have many friends who have walked closely with me at one time or another. I have done Bible studies with, mentored, shared and prayed over, with and for many of these. As I have walked closely with these friends, accountability was always a topic of conversation. Where we stumble, where we need a steady hand. Those little sins, I feel compelled to draw attention to, to question. I receive the invitation to speak knowing none are perfect.
Others are in close relationship with me, moving toward God but less than perfect...just like me. The Lord quite simply spoke to my heart the other day and said, "Cheer on those who are running towards Me."
Be a cheerleader. Be an encourager. Say positive things about the movement I see. Someone told me today that in regards to parenting I need to just pick my battles. Some things are worth the risk. Others will work themselves out in due time.
How do I know which battles to pick? I pray. I ask the Lord to reveal the heart motives. I ask the Lord to season my words. I ask the Lord to hold my tongue. I listen before I speak. Above all, I love.
There are so many lovely friends in my garden of life! I have learned something from every one of my friends who sit at the feet of God. Whether they've been sitting for years or are just beginning, each has made my life richer. Every one has made my life richer. Every single one. No matter where they are, or where I think they are, they have taught me.
Many years ago, I had trouble seeing for my pride. I wanted "sin" confronted, dealt with, confessed, lifestyles changed immediately. You know, sometimes God does this. We start the prayer one way and we are instantly changed at Amen. I've experienced it. I love instant freedom!
But many times, most times, it takes lots of prayers. It takes lots of someones willing to walk with us. Shoulder our burdens. Carry us, even, to make it to the next mile marker. I can look back at my journey and see where lots of people I love have been lost in the gaps where I thought a different response to sin was warranted. I'm living. I'm learning.
God's Word is a rulebook for life with a capital L and victorious living. Some follow it better than others. Some desire to follow it better than others. Some desire to follow it but don't quite understand it. Some are helpless to overcome their sin but are still crying out to God longing for change. That's movement.
My tendency is to deal with it immediately...or let it lurk. In my past, I wouldn't confess sin until I was ready to stop. Quite honestly, I mulled over how I would reform my life for weeks, months before I put the plan into action. Sadly, I lived in an isolated cocoon because I didn't want to be "found out" before I was ready. Weird, but true. I didn't hold on to lots of junk but there are a few times in my life I held a lit match in front of a stick of dynamite for way too long.
When I was in college, I began to ask the Lord to keep me on a short leash. Let me know early on when I wander too close to the border. As a parent, I see much more plainly the danger in playing with fire or sticking my fingers through the fence.
Praise God, He's brought me to a place where there is nothing. Nothing good. Nothing bad. Nothing I'd rather have than Him. Nothing. Without His presence, I have no reason to breathe!
Now, I loved Him like that all those years ago, I just showed Him by being a bit more methodical in confession and repentance. I took it seriously. I was probably a bit more concerned about others...and their actions' effects on me...than I was with my worship of Him. I was also caught up in crazy maze of not wanting to disappoint God by failing once I had repented. Silly me! Without Him, my life is nothing but one disappointment after another.
Like I said, these days it's just easier...and more loving, to share what God's doing in my life. To humbly make a fool out of me by exposing my own sins, shortcomings and failures than to point out those of anyone else.
Some have been walking with the Lord for longer than I've been alive. I need their wisdom. I need the experience that their lives offer me. Some are just a few steps ahead of me on the journey. I need them to turn their heads and cheer for me. I need to see their victories and their walk so I can imitate them. Some are a few steps behind me. I pray daily that my life, words and character would encourage them. Some are just starting on the path. Some running. Some walking. Movement. Toward God. That pleases Him. It makes me happy too.
I pray that none would give up the good fight and that all would run as if to win.
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize...Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." 1 Corinthians 9:24 & Hebrews 12:1