Yesterday morning was incredibly convicting. God spoke to me, loud and clear.
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you–even Jesus…When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.” ~Acts 3:19,20, & 26 (NIV)
Most of church doesn’t involve telling me anything I don’t already know. Instead, it encourages me to put what I already know into daily practice.
And that is really, really hard.
The above verses are what stood out most strongly to me yesterday, and for good reason. Back in Acts 2, we talked about the four legs of a stool a Christian needs to stand on in order to grow in their faith:
- Teaching of the Apostles: reading and understanding the Word of God.
- Fellowship with other believers: worshiping in a group setting, by finding and becoming part of a local, Bible-believing church.
- Breaking of bread: Hanging out and spending time in the homes of the family of God – preferably with food!
- Prayer: Praying together with other believers, and having a robust individual prayer life.
There is one area I have found myself lacking in, and that is prayer. I pray daily, from my heart, and strive to pray continually. Yet, it has felt lately that there was something standing between God and I that was hampering my fellowship with my precious Savior.
The answer came yesterday.
I am like the crippled beggar in Acts 3. I asked God what was crippling me and keeping me from changing and growing the way I know he wants me to. He answered me. As surely as I’m sitting here, typing, God answered me.
A lack of repentance.
True remorse for a list of attitudes and behaviors that I have asked near-constant forgiveness for, but have not actually turned away from. God literally gave me a list. It’s written down in my notebook.
The blessing of all of this is that God is making himself more vividly known to me through my prayer life – in spite of my crippled condition. He is revealing things to me that I could not see before. He is holding up a mirror to me, and graciously showing me where I need to grow, change, and learn. Where I need to repent.
You see, just because I’m a Christian, does not mean that my life is unmarred by struggles with sin. I still live a life in a finite, fleshly body; I am susceptible to temptations, struggles, and sin. I am no longer obligated to that fleshly nature, however, and can choose freely to walk away.
Where the rubber meets the road is the struggle.
Knowing all this is merely the tip of the iceberg. Doing it is entirely another matter.
One I find impossible.
Thankfully, when the invitation was given to come forward for prayer after service, I met another just like me. My dear friend and sister, Amy, met my tear-filled eyes, and we knew that our struggle was the same. So, we confessed to one another and repented together. We both had the same list of struggles, and our great God brought us together to pray and encourage each other.
We both get to start fresh. And we’re both worried we’ll blow it again. After all, doesn’t the Lord gently encourage us to “go and sin no more?” Don’t the above verses say that God will bless us by turning us away from our sin?
Someday, we’ll get there.
In the meantime, we’re determined to grow. By the grace of God, and through on his strength alone.
Thanks for reading my ramblings. I hope my post brings you encouragement that you are not alone in your walk. What has God taught you this Sunday morning?
Grace & Peace,