Sunday, July 11, 2010

Torn Apart By My Own Perverseness

Looking back, it's curious to view that phone call with my piano teacher. In one sense, it marked a turning point for the better. That victory began a gradual process that resulted in subsequent witnessing opportunities becoming easier. I had less and less fear until I was able to open up my mouth and speak without a struggle, without a flutter, mentioning the truths of the gospel message just as naturally as I would bring up any other conversation topic.

But that achievement came at a great price.

You see, every time I would be prompted to witness, I still refused to obey. It was a persistent, steadfast rebellion that trumped all my best pep talks and all my good intentions. I was in a cycle: I prayed for souls and desired them to be saved, I was faced with a witnessing opportunity and turned it down, and then I was filled with remorse and vowed to actually witness the next time.

God was very patient with me through all this.

In the midst of it all, however, I was still largely living by the flesh and not walking by faith, and therefore I was not finding the strength to obey, because I was looking to myself for it rather than accessing grace, which is the only thing that can actually empower obedience. Therefore, I experienced a lot of conflicting emotions, and all the sweet richness of love that I had experienced with my Savior seemed like it was threatening to evaporate as a consequence of my disobedience.

A pang of dread shot through my heart as the warmth and passion and delight of the love in my heart started to fade. The thought of losing the sweetest love in the world suddenly made me realize how much it meant to me. Oh, take out my eyes, destroy all my possessions, and leave me hungry every day--but don't take that! I prayed internally. But even this was not motivation enough to make the flesh do what the flesh did not want to do, because the flesh cannot and will not please God.

The next few witnessing opportunities came along, and I failed them. Flunked them. Kept quiet. Didn't obey God. And in the same measure, I began to lose that delightful, romantic, adventurous LOVE that I had experienced for the past few months. "Noooooooooo," I thought. "Why am I doing this?" And yet there the facts stood. I was not loving God, but He continued to love me. 

A few days later, I flunked yet another opportunity. I was afraid that I wouldn't get another opportunity. I figured that if I didn't ever obey, I would just be left to my own devices and live a miserable, mediocre life. I believe that a lot of the condemnation I was experiencing at this time was coming from the enemy, who kicks a person when they're down. "You're not worthy of God's love. Why should He continue to work with you?" The worst part about it was that he attributed these types of statements to God, and I took the bait and believed I was hearing from God.

But God, who is faithful, merciful, and patient, ultimately triumphed.

He gave me another opportunity, and gave me the strength to witness.

Then he gave me another, and I witnessed again.

And again.

And along the way, a few more failures crept back in, but FINALLY, the pattern was changing.

Finally, I have some obedience in my life in this area. Thus the Lord saw me safely through the crisis until He saw His will formed in me. But the Master Professor was far from finished with His pupil.

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