One of the gifts from my mother-in-law this Christmas was a book. She reads a lot of Christian literature books. She told me that this one in particular has been really helpful for her, especially when she finds it hard to come up with words to pray. It's been a really long time since I've read a Christian literature book (this is a different issue, and maybe I'll discuss it at a later time). Anyway, The book she gave me is, Praying God's Word by Beth Moore. I guess it's a companion book to a seminar series she's giving called Breaking Free. The book has different chapters on overcoming different chronic sins that we face, including: idolatry, unbelief, pride, deception, insecurity, rejection, addiction, food-related strongholds, ongoing feelings of guilt, unforgiveness, depression, and sexual strongholds.
Each chapter begins with a little bit of an explanation of the sin, where it stems from and how we get trapped in it. The chapters then go on to give many scripture based prayers about that particular sin as a starting point for you to pray for your forgiveness and healing.
This morning I didn't go to church because I wasn't feeling very well, but Brian did. And while I was home by myself this morning, I was feeling like I really wanted to be close to God. I've been in a little bit of a funk lately, so I was surprised by my level of motivation to really do something. So anyway, I picked up this book. I read through the chapter on overcoming ongoing feelings of guilt seeing that it's definitely something that I struggle with. It might stem from my Asian upbringing, but when I do something wrong, the feelings of guilt weigh me down long after I confess it.
My time with God this morning struck me. Maybe not as deeply as I would have expected or desired, but it was significant, and I thought that writing this stuff down and even sharing it with all of you would be helpful for me.
In the book, Beth Moore is very clear about the issue of ongoing feelings of guilt: "Never in all of Scripture does Christ resist the repentant sinner. He resisted the proud and the self-righteous religious, but never the humble and repentant. Indeed, forgiveness is why He came. When we approach God in genuine repentance, taking full responsibility for our own sins, our prison doors swing open. Tragically, we could sit right there in our prison cells for the next five years in torment if we don't stand on God's promises and walk forward in His truth. Since Satan knows that forgiveness leads to freedom, he takes on the role of tormentor, taunting us with guilt and condemnation. If Christ has forgiven us, he [Satan] does everything he can to see to it that we don't forgive ourselves."
I came to many realizations while reading this chapter. One of which is how complicated I try to make things. When I read that paragraph, it sounds so clear and uncomplicated, but when I think about my sin, forgiveness, and being healed, there's all this mess. I doubt God's truth and keep asking myself "is it really possible for me to turn my back on this sin and change?", "how can I believe it when everyone around me will still condemn me for what I've done?", "why was I created so messy to start with?".
Another realization I came to was how I use my "messiness" as an excuse to not take full responsibility for my sin. I think one thing that keeps me from letting go of the guilt is not fully repenting in the first place. I will feel wretched before God, and feel like I'm humbling myself and ask him to help me change, but I will have the mindset that I really can't help doing what I've done. That's just who I am. I make a lot of mistakes and I can't do anything about that. At the same time, many of these "mistakes" are made while I'm well aware that I'm doing something wrong. It's a horrible feeling. I need to take full responsibility because in the moment when I sin, I am choosing to sin, whether it is very hard to choose otherwise or not. Having an "I can't help it" mindset will keep me from accepting God's help and trusting in His power to free me.
Anyway, now that I've humbled myself before God and all of you, I am praying that I will be able to receive God's forgiveness and grace, that I will not blame God for my sin, and will not hold on to it any longer than I need to. While reading through the rest of the chapter, it surprised me how much scripture there is about this exact topic. It is really true that Jesus came to forgive us (again, this might seem very obvious to many people, it even seems obvious to me when I think about it). Old and New Testament are filled with verses about the forgiveness of God and His ability to make us new and clean.
Anyway, I am ending this blog entry with a pretty hopeful feeling. I am thankful that God has met me today. I know it is only me that is keeping Him from meeting me more often and in a deeper way. I do have hope though that it will get easier over time. There are a lot more chapters of this book that interest me and I'm excited (sort of) to read them (which is a start). Please pray for me if you are so inclined, that I will continue to grow toward God, and that it will get easier to spend time with Him and allow Him to move me. Thanks.