“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” Romans 6: 12-14 New International Version
When I was in third grade we lived in Lucerne Valley, a mighty metropolis of the Mojave Desert. Well, that’s probably stretching reality just a little, or maybe more if you consider it consisted of a post office, restaurant, pool hall, bar, and of course an elementary school. It was at this school I was introduced to the wonders of playing in the band. I was actually quite excited to be able to try out. I wanted to play the trumpet, so on the day of auditions I headed straight to the trumpet picked it up and blew! Out came a note, ok, a sound, but enough of a noise to attract the band teacher who was quite impressed with my ability to even make a sound emerge without having had lessons. I was in my element; I had done what no one else there had been able to do. I knew I was about to become a trumpet player!
Have you ever noticed how things have a way of twisting you inside out, whether they are plans made or not made, expectations unfulfilled, or expectations fulfilled. They can still leave you wondering what went wrong. Perhaps you finally attained what you believed would give you some form of acceptance. Surely now there would be no more doubts as to who you were, or what you could accomplish. The fears would vanish like an ice cube left on the sidewalk when the temperature is 113 degrees, as if it had never been, as if they had never been.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t resemble anything like life on this fragile, broken world. No matter how we may try there will always be those who betray us, those who will use us, those who will never give the slightest thought about how their actions impact others. There will always be loss! From the moment Eve entered into the conversation with the enemy until Adam chose to resolve their problem on his own, our lives have reflected the experience of loss.
What I continue to discover about myself is the inability to come to terms with certain life altering challenges. I have learned many things lately; my sisters and I had our DNA checked and with the DNA testing came a personality profile test. Joni and I had taken personality tests quite a few years ago when our Pastor was working on his Marriage and Family Counseling Degree. The test taken long ago didn’t give us our Myers-Briggs types (at least not as I recall), so I was interested to find out my type. I found some surprises, some knowns, and some unknowns, all giving me the opportunity to begin to understand how I tick! The test also revealed my personality type makes up 8% of the population, and males comprise only 7% of that 8%!
One thing of which I am keenly aware is I process through my emotions, not so great for someone who has been taught men’s emotions are to remain deeply hidden. I haven’t been very successful in keeping them under lock and key, although if you didn’t know me I might be able to fool you. I have fooled myself a few times as I have tried to understand the who, what, and whys of who I am.
Flashback to my band audition: I was never to play the trumpet. My folks couldn’t afford the rent for the trumpet. Since we had a saxophone, that is what I was to play. However, not for very long! I played in one concert at Christmas, then we moved and I had no more lessons. I also discovered just how difficult it was to remain interested in something you absolutely had no desire to accomplish!
So, why do we find ourselves struggling with the desires of our hearts, along with those desires we know cause harm to us and all we hold close to our hearts? I’m not even referring to those monster things we tick off as not being a problem for us. It’s those little things we find creeping back time and time again. We each know what those are, how they impact us, and the damage they continue to wreak on us and those we love. How do we ever enter into a process of relief from the constant pain, questions, doubts, and all the enemy throws at us to drive wedges between the God who chose death over living without us?
How do we become instruments of righteousness when we have been so conditioned to be instruments of wickedness? No matter how we long to paint ourselves as beings that are essentially good, we are beings in need of a Savior. We desperately need the Grace only God can provide, and it is only through that process we may begin to believe the reality that is God.
I don’t know of any other way to move beyond the damage humanity experiences and inflicts when we are left to the desires of the flesh, the Old Man. It’s that belief that I am at the center of the universe and it all revolves around me!
Most of the time we can convince ourselves this isn’t really how we see life. Fortunately, God once more in His infinite wisdom never leaves us in such a dangerous place. In His Love and Grace He refuses to leave us as instruments of wickedness knowing where that leads. I believe one day we will be amazed to find just how far God continuously moved to be sure we were transformed into being the instruments He always intended us to become. Until then we remain in the process of His Grace, which refuses to leave us where we are no matter where that may be! Anything less would be a betrayal of who He is and of what He longs for us to experience today, tomorrow and for eternity!
Lately, there seems to be so much I need to get settled. Maybe it’s because 60 looms large on my horizon; maybe it is God deciding I need another major attitude adjustment! Whatever it is and however it plays itself out, this I know, He will never leave you or me to perish in what He can heal. I will cling to this truth as I do His Damage Control, because I can never make it without His Grace! And why would anyone want to try?
Whatever you might be facing in your life, this is one thing you can know, you don’t have to do it alone. Do you know God has never expected us to do life without Him? It’s why He pursues us, refusing to leave us where He finds us, and providing so much more than we can know in this life. I don’t have the answers, but He does and He isn’t keeping them to Himself, because He is the answer!
“The Eternal One will never leave you; He will lead you in the way that you should go.
When you feel dried up and worthless, God will nourish you and give you strength.
And you will grow like a garden lovingly tended; you will be like a spring whose water never runs out.” Isaiah 58:11 The Voice