This past week, at Bible study, the Lord had something to say. He always has something to say, but I am not the best of listeners (I talk too much) and I frequently miss The Point. But on Wednesday, He made sure I got it.
In last week's episode, I talked about how the Lord had been working in my heart, and how excited and thankful I was over all the fresh air breezing through my dusty self. I have experienced a heart change (the first of many such operations, I hope) and while it is a new realization, I am already quite attached to it.
Worry and anxiety are no longer gnawing away like aggressive little termites at my heart and mind. *cue birds chirping, the hallelujah chorus and a tall cup of cold lemonade* But I really didn't have anything to do with eradicating it from my heart. He did it all, quietly, slowly, without my complete awareness, and suddenly it was gone. It was a gift given in Grace and I am thankful.
We sat down in our small group this past Wednesday and had some time to fellowship before we dug into the lesson. Several of us shared what the Lord had been up to in our lives, and I concluded my summary with a confession: "I am worried that my worry will come back." I think I feel that, because I had nothing to do with earning this change, I am powerless to make it a lasting one. I doubted that I could really experience something permanent in my heart, that I could really move on and grow past the debilitating habits of anxiety. So I was worried that my worry would come back. (I know. I know.)
Then the lecture part of the morning came, and we dug back into Genesis 20 and 21. Many tangents could now be branched off onto, but I shall try instead, to keep to my point. We have been studying the life of Abraham. Fascinating, and utterly relevant in many surprising ways. But somewhere in the middle of the lecture, our speaker asked
"When fear enters your life, what is your default response?"
I very quickly responded to myself "I respond in anxiety, I always want more control." Fragments of thoughts and scriptures and the wise insights of others had been floating around in my head inconclusively for several weeks. Leesa brought them all together when she addressed "The sins we tolerate" a few minutes later. Anxiety is a sin. It may be socially acceptable, but it is the result of sin festering in the heart. I think I knew this deep down, but hearing it articulated so clearly really caught my attention.
The Lord had worked in my heart and freed me from a burdening sin in my life. The significance of His mercy lept out in a new way. I had been carting around a deeply planted sin in my life, but had labeled it as merely a "problem." And He was not ok with that. So He gently dug it out, pulling it up by the roots. Anxiety was a sin issue in my heart, He had freed me from it, and yet I feared that it would come back, like a weed you just can't kill.
All of these thoughts ricocheted quickly around my brain, and then the Lord made His Point of the Day. Leesa said:
"It is a Lie that we can not walk in consistent victory over sin."
Bam. Fear was already wiggling back in, determined to stay in my heart, trying to sneak in innocently as "worry about worry." And it lied. And God smooshed it.
"For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin, because anyone who has died has been set free from sin... In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness,
but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from
death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument
of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace." Romans 6:6-7, 11-14
We can have victory over sin, because when He kills it, its dead, folks. By His mercy, through His blood, we are dead to sin. It has no power over us, we are free from it. But we must first recognize our sin as sin, without making excuses or calling it by another name, and we must bring it unflinchingly before the cross. We must confess it to the Lord as sin and accept The Truth: That by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are free. We are dead to sin, and Alive in Christ. It is time to leave it dead and buried, and to walk forward in faith. It is time to Live.
Merciful Grace is reaching out to you right now. Right this very moment. You can be free. Not because you have the ability to muscle through it and kill it dead yourself, no. You can be free because your Creator is not content to let you keep living in your sins any longer, and HE has come to bring you Life. Look at your heart, bring it to the Lord. Confront your sin head on and let Him change you. Don't listen to the Lie that says you have fallen and you can't get up. You can because He can.
And here, I conclude.