Thursday, January 24, 2013

to which sins am I still clinging?

"You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence."
Psalm 90:8

My feet hit heavy on the solid pavement that sunny, brisk day.  All around me, the noises of New York filled the air, but I couldn't hear them.  I was lost in my own cloud.  It was if a deep, dusky fog had descended into my head, and all around me was muck.  In fact, I felt as though I had been walking around for so long in the muck that it had entered into my lungs.

Why do I feel this way?

I got onto the subway and plugged my ears with music to drown out the conflicting thoughts crowding my brain.  Usually, my efforts to lose myself in music were a mindless habit, but today this act was very conscious.  I didn't want to think about the mess of my life.  I didn't want to mull over my actions.  I didn't want to come to terms with how my life choices were affecting my soul -- once so full of hope and life, but now full of despair and death.

How do I get out of this mess?

At some point between the subway and NJ transit, I must have talked to God -- taking my inner questions and directing them towards Him.  At some point, I really wanted to listen to His response.  At some point in that journey, I was ready to hear Him and obey, no matter what the cost.

Just stop.

That's the response I heard.

I waited.

Nothing else.

Just stop.

Would that be it?  To get myself out of the muck and mire -- to release my soul from the burden I had built around myself -- to clear my head from the fog -- just stop?  Just stop.  It sounded so simple.  And maybe it was.

I don't want to live steeped in sin.  
It doesn't feel like freedom;
it feels like bondage.
I want to be free.

It was as if for the first time in many years, I was seeing my life exposed to the Light -- as if God were letting me see my life through His eyes.  And I didn't like what I saw.  It was ugly, and it felt ugly.  I wanted out.  

And just then, the lyrics of a Nicole Nordeman song filled my head -- I put the earbuds in and let the song wash over me --

The gate is wide
The road is paved in moderation
The crowd is kind and quick to pull you in
Welcome to the middle ground

You're safe and sound and
Until now it's where I've been

'Cause it's been fear that ties me down to everything
But it's been love, Your love, that cuts the strings

I am small
And I speak when I'm spoken to
But I am willing to risk it all
I say Your name
Just Your name and I'm ready to jump
Even ready to fall...

Why did I take this vow of compromise?
Why did I try to keep it all inside?

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave

I clung dearly to those words, and let the wind rush over me as trains passed by.  I had never felt so free before.  To lead a life with God -- to be free from my sins -- I just had to stop it.  Let go.  I wanted to be brave -- to let myself live differently -- to change.

So what happened?
Why didn't I start living differently?

There was no happy ending that day.  It was a surface change of heart.  Yes, I wanted it -- I wanted to follow the Lord -- but I was so entrenched in sin that I didn't see that habits needed to change.  I went about my life just hoping that God would keep me from my sinful nature.  

That didn't happen -- at least, not that day.  It would be another couple years before I was able to actually stop -- before I was brought so low that there was nothing to live for other than Christ.  God was giving me a way out that day -- a clear view into the path I was going down and where it would lead -- and ultimately, I rejected it.

How often do I still reject His freedom?
How often do I still cling to sin?
How often do I refuse to change habits, to listen, to obey?

To what am I still clinging?
Where do I need to obey?

What about you?  

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