It is my ultimate goal to keep our friends updated on our journey, and to help them to be a part of this process with us. It’s the mission of this blog to accomplish this very thing. I have had a bit of a writer’s block, feeling like I needed to provide an update, but unsure of what exactly to write. This morning the block was cleared, and as usual, it was Scripture that was speaking.
My daughter has recently committed to reading her Bible more regularly, and in doing so has had many great conversations with her mother and I. Just last night she was reading in Galatians, and God spoke to her through Scripture. She came upstairs and explained what she had read, and then told us that she felt like God was telling her that it is wrong for her to try to fit in with her friends when they are doing things that convict her, or that she knows are not in line with Biblical teaching.
2 Timothy 3: 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Um…. Hallelujah!! As her parents, we’ve been communicating this to her in every way imaginable, feeling like every effort was in vain! We jumped all over the opportunity, praising God that His Holy Spirit was alive and well, showing conviction in her heart and revealing Scriptures to her in her own personal time of reading. Thank God she is willing to talk to us about these things, and that we can affirm for her the teaching of Scripture!
1 John 2: 27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.
We encouraged her that this is evidence of the sanctification process, it’s an evidence of salvation, and something she has been searching for. Recently she has had to examine herself for evidence of faith. She has doubted her salvation. As difficult as it was not to say that she was fine and surely she was saved, we instead committed as parents to allow her to endure this struggle. We told her that in an honest evaluation, looking for evidence of salvation, we had the same concern. We encouraged her in her faith, instructed her to seek Him diligently, to lift up prayers to Him, and to commit herself to time in His Word so that she might find Him.
Philippians 2: 12 …work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
As we visited this morning about her conviction of being a people-pleaser, she brought further Scripture to support and affirm her. This morning she had read 1 Timothy 4, where Paul is addressing those who depart from faith to follow false doctrine. Paul explains them as having their conscience seared with a hot iron. We talked about how the conviction of the Holy Spirit burns and urges you to depart from wickedness. If you continue in wickedness in spite of the conviction, it is like a branding iron that will eventually sear the flesh, and leave a permanent mark. If she continued in her sin and ignored the conviction, she would eventually be branded and known as a people-pleaser, unwilling to stand for Christ.
At this point in the conversation, her countenance changed and I could see the tears well up in her eyes. The burden became too great, and she was feeling the pressure of all of this weighing on her. I could see the hope escape her body, and she dropped into despair. She didn’t want to be branded, but she felt helpless against this threat. As I saw her react and emote, I saw myself. I remembered all the times that I have been told these things. I have been told what I should and shouldn’t do. I have found conviction by the Holy Spirit through His Word, but then failed to understand how I was supposed to defeat the enemy. I have felt helpless. I have felt defeated. So this question loomed over our breakfast table, “I know my sin. I am convicted of it. I am a sinner, incapable of perfection. I know I have to change, but I also know I am unable to see a victory in my own strength. I don’t want to be branded, but I cannot win. How do I conquer this sin in my life?”
Matthew 11: 28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
It occurred to me, and I remembered how frustrating this was early in my life of faith. I’m supposed to just change my life, but no one ever tells me how. They tell me I’m not perfect, and that I can’t be. They tell me that I will never be without sin, but that I’m supposed to make myself without sin in certain ways. It becomes so confusing and frustrating. I could see this in my daughter this morning.
So, here’s the truth. It’s a truth that I still have to learn for myself. My daughter is not expected to defeat this. I am not requiring her to develop a ten step plan for how she will handle the time she spends with her peers, and how she will avoid the pitfalls. I don’t have any tricks, slogans, sayings, or anything else to help her. She can’t, and won’t, prepare in the 15 minute drive to a friend’s house, and suddenly come up with some amazing plan to avoid the sin that convicts her. She is a sinner. She is far from perfect, and she cannot do it.
Instead, her only need is to draw near to her Redeemer. He already lived this life in sinless fashion and defeated the sin that she struggles with. He has imparted to her His Holy Spirit, who is washing her with the regeneration of the heart, transforming her into a new creation. When she spends time with her friends, she manipulates herself to fit into the group. In the same way, as she spends time with Christ, He will manipulate her into His very likeness. As she seeks Him, He will reveal Himself to her. As she searches for knowledge, He will give it to her in abundance. As she prays, He will answer. As she reads, His Word will speak. As she devotes herself to Him, she will be transformed.
1 Corinthians 15: 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
That’s it. It’s really too easy, but it’s true. There is nothing she can do, because He has already done it. If she stays steadfast in prayer and reading, He will change her. She will look back on this trial some day and realize how God moved. She will realize that she is no longer the 10 year old girl of October, 2016. The Holy Spirit will have conquered this and many other sins, and she will be the 11, 12, or 13 year old girl that God is perfecting until the day of Christ. When she sees what God has done, she will rejoice with joy in her heart for the things that God has done through this trial. It is with that joy in her heart that she will seek Him all the more, and perhaps even ask that another trial be put in front of her, because she knows this cycle of trial and joy.
James 1: 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
It isn’t only my daughter that needs to hear this message. I speak it to myself. At times we are overtaken with fear in this journey to prepare for Uganda. If we look holy, righteous, and worthy of honor… you have been deceived. We are broken, tearful, and facing trials of our own. We are faced with the same challenge. Will we draw near to God in prayer and faithful reading from His Word as our source of strength, or will we continue on in our strength attempting to will ourselves into something that we are not capable of accomplishing?
Pray for us, and challenge us. As brothers and sisters in Christ, check in with us. Ask if we are reading, and when you do, ask what we are reading. Ask what we are praying for, and how often we are praying it. Ask if we are reading as a husband and wife, and also individually. Ask if we are seeking Him as we should be. Will you do that for us? Can we do that for you?
Ephesians 3: 14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.