And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. – Rom 8:28
It used to be that when I was tempted to stray from God, I would not put up much of a fight. It was much easier and infinitely more pleasurable to hit the ‘pause’ button in my walk with God and disappear for a while into the woods. Compulsion drove me and I would let darkness seduce me until pain woke me up again. Then, and only then, did I run back to God in tears. As painful as this process was, it led me deeper into my friendship with God as I came to know him better with each misadventure. But how I feared and loathed my own propensity for seeking good in the wrong places. How I hated my brokenness and my susceptibility to sin!
As I grow day by day in the awareness of my identity as a loved sinner, the experience of being tempted is becoming different. The seduction can be just as potent as in the past, but I find myself talking to God about it a lot more. I constantly tell God that I want to be free to follow Him, but I am also a lot more honest about how difficult it is to resist my baser self. I put myself at His feet, utterly humbled at how weak and helpless I am to resist sin without His grace. I find my heart filled with apology for not being stronger.
But then Jesus lifts my head gently. His gaze is ever tender and true. There is no surprise or disappointment there. In his all-knowing eyes, I find only love. And as I soak in the love in his gaze, I begin to see the beauty in my struggle to remain faithful to him.
There is something exquisite in the struggle to live out the love I have professed for God. My struggle reminds me of how weak I am and leads me to greater dependence on his grace. I am beginning to appreciate my human-ness in a deeper way. It reveals to me just how much I need a Redeemer, and how greatly I am loved. And that is something that I can always be grateful for… no matter how dark the journey may get.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table for me
in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.