Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tactic: The Slow Wean

I sat down in my morning room yesterday, Bible in lap, and discovered something I'd forgotten. When I am sick (head throbbingly sick), the usual resistances my soul seems to develop to the presence of God just sort of melt away. A.) I don't know WHY my soul would build invisible little walls against Him whom I love so much, and B.) It's odd that sickness would dismantle them, but there it is. What He had to say, simple little verses, seemed to go straight in. I love the feeling of just being able to quickly, easily, and transformingly believe the words of His mouth. Love it!

This is in stark contrast to what the enemy has been doing around here lately, though I've only just realized it today, while sitting in the same morning room chair, with the same Bible atop the ottoman in front of me. One of my dearlings has been recently telling me about her battle with a constant sense of sin. As we dismantled the feelings and actions involved, I concluded she was under a sense of condemnation, not conviction. That conversation reoccured to me when I plopped into my chair this morning and opened the Word with a feeling that I should apologize to God.

Apologize??

"Apologize" is a very different thing than "repent". To repent is a relieving and cleansing activity; and at the end all sense of guilt is gone, replaced with a floaty, clear, almost memory-less sort of attraction to the lap of the Father. But to apologize...

Apologies can be vague, general approaches to smoothing over some rough spot in relationship, or an ongoing personality issue that causes friction. They often come and go with no actual release from guilt. What, I asked myself, do I have this impulse to apologize over?
  • I stayed up later than I should have for the health of my body last night.
  • I don't feel I accomplished as much as I needed to @ work yesterday.
  • I'm still in my pajamas at 9 am, since I'm home sick today.
Wait a minute. None of these are sins, and they're certainly not things the Holy Spirit is actually convicting me to repent of! And yet they'd pressed on me a vague and general sense that I was bad. Condemnation, loud and clear. And yet so subersive and hidden.

It's that always-sense of not having done quite enough, of not being as devoted or systematic in prayer as one should be, of disappointing Him in multiple little things, and of having "missed the mark." I've never liked that summer-camp description of sin: "missing the mark". In one fell swoop enter elements of perfectionism and human striving, now deeply mixed in adolescent psyches with the concepts of actual sin and rebellion. No, "not being good enough" is not a sin to repent of; "not hitting the bull's eye perfectly" is not rebellion. (I know; I just tried a game of darts and failed utterly at it.)

Now, not everyone deals with huge amounts of condemnation, but I think it is more common than we normally observe. Particularly here at IHOP, where devotion and holiness are so sought after, the spirit of condmenation is one of Satan's giants, sent regularly against this camp and "entrenched" to a certain degree. I'm not soft on sin by any means, and I'm quick - sometimes disturbingly quick - to call for repentance. Undealtwith, habitual sin is a gangrene, keeping one from holiness and joy, and spreading destruction to other parts of the body. It must be mercilessly uprooted with the same right determination as a sheep farmer who shoots the wild dogs killing the lambs.

But that is for sin! This general feeling of not being full-force enough, not aromatic enough for God, is condemnation, not sin, and is designed to slowly wean us from the presence of God. The dearling I mentioned before could not rest in God through an entire two hours in the prayer room because she was constantly wondering if she was walking in some sort of rebellion and if that would then keep God from meeting with her there or honoring her seeking of Him...

Let our ruthless war against sin also be a war against condemnation; and may the Lord Jesus win both!

(Disclaimer...I'm not sure of the policy on using photos from the internet. The one above is linked from its original spot, and I think that's legal. If not...apologies - and compliments - to the photographer! It reminds me of how it feels to talk with God after a real bout of repentance. It's a very different feeling than lingering condemnation. If you don't feel like this photo after you've repented of a sin, it's time to go to war against condemnation! :)

1 comment:

Annie Peterson said...

I love you a lot. :) And I love the revelation the Lord gives you on so much. Thank you for loving me well. :) :)