November 15, 2010

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. Psalm 42:1

"Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God." Romans 8: 12-14

I was reading Romans 8 and found that the verses mean a whole lot more to me now then when I read them at the beginning of the summer. I actually have seen what my life looks like when I seek a life lived in the spirit.

My summer sucked, really there's not much to it. However, if it hadn't sucked, I'm not sure I would be where I am today spiritually. I guess I thought Ireland would've been a vacation from life for me, but that's not the way God works.

In the first 4 verses of Romans, it's made clear that there is freedom from the bondage of our sin. I entered the summer with the mindset that it was inevitable to fall back into the slump of summers past. After all, old habits die hard. It's clear to me now that God was working in me and was with me when I fell into those old habits. I was left stripped, even more of my innocence and troubled by the person I was becoming. Romans says it this way, "letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace." I wasn't naive to the consequences of continuing to fall deeper into my sin and I had no excuses for how I got there. I gave in to what my flesh wanted rather then what my heart claimed to desire.

It took experiencing the sting of my sin this summer, for me to step outside of the life I was living and ask myself "just who are you living for, Susan?" I had ignored the Holy Spirit in my life for a long time, so much so that when faced with my sinful desires, my conscience barely flinched. I put God on mute long enough that it was easy to rationalize and justify my actions.

I had to touch the hot stove to see for myself if it would burn. Once I felt the sting, it took time for the burn to heal, but healing came in abundance when I ran into the arms of my Father in heaven for comfort. That's what He wanted all along. Kissing your "boo boo" doesn't physically heal wounds, but love covers our pain and makes the healing process bearable. This summer I experienced Christ's love like never before. I've grown a whole lot since summer too and Ireland has played a large role in my most recent growth.

Being in Ireland hasn't been terrible, in fact it's been a positive experience that I will never forget. However, it has opened my eyes to the very same struggle I faced, battling in the hearts of friends here. My response to this awareness has stretched me to approach it with compassion and love. It's been a challenge to allow God to grow this compassion in my heart because it changes how I view people. Its much easier to pass by someone who looks down and have no conviction to stop and ask how they are doing...Compassion is what fuels that conviction. Yet again, I learn the lesson that I am not here on this earth for myself.

I'm working towards trusting in the Lord and leaning not on my own understanding. (Unfortunately, I'm still in the process of learning that lesson.) I'm praying and expecting God to change hearts, to mess up our plans and move us towards His righteousness. Prayer used to feel like a cop out, but I'm convinced of its power now.

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