Sin and Reform

The following was written on November 12, 2008…

As I’ve progressed in my walk with Christ, I’ve found more and more that Scripture reads me.  When I see people in the Bible, I often see aspects of myself.  While the stories of David and Solomon and Elisha aren’t my stories, they do resonate with me, and tell me more of the God who is intimately working in my life.

Most recently I’ve been reading through 1st and 2nd Kings, and it’s been an interesting experience.  I’ve loved seeing God working on the macro level – with Israel and Judah’s many kings of varying holiness.  He truly is sovereign over all aspects of government, and works in mighty ways to accomplish both His will and His purposes for nations.  I’ve also been fascinated at how God works on the micro level.  The text will quickly rip through a hundred years’ worth of leadership and kings in Israel in just a paragraph or two, and then will slow way down to speak of a miracle or an evil deed, taking several chapters to do so.  These things that I’ve been learning, however, aren’t the issue that have been on my mind the most lately…

God showed me last night that the big story with Israel throughout the monarchy (both in the united and the divided) is that Israel struggles intensely with her idolatry, and cannot seem to put the foreign gods away for any lasting length of time.  Every once in a while there is reform, or a holy king who takes care of a few things, but there’s always an evil king who leads the people back into sin again… and again… and again.  They never beat their sin, and in the end have to be completely abandoned by God and delivered over to a pagan nation to experience His judgment by living as conquered slaves in a foreign land.

In a way, this story is my story.  I’ve struggled so much with my sin – be it pride, lust, idolatry, selfishness, greed, gluttony, or anything else under the sun – and every once in a while I’ll see some reform, a return to following Jesus closely.  But there’s always something that leads me back into my old lifestyle, something that tugs at my heart strings and leads me down that dark pathway, and I find myself standing and knocking at temptation’s door, head hung low, shoulders slumped in surrender.

So how long must I continue in this way?  How long will my God’s mercies continue to renew, and how long will it be before I truly understand how much damage I’ve dealt myself and those I love?  I pray that He ruins me… I pray that He enraptures my soul with a lasting satisfaction and joy, so that I consider Him the most desirable thing to be had in all the universe for all eternity.

Oh merciful Almighty God, deliver me from my sin.  Send me not into Exile from You.  Oh please don’t forsake me to the wilderness and my own destruction.  Give me grace, lead me into Your pleasant presence and put away my transgression.  Let Your mercies be new tomorrow, and give me strength to serve You and only You this coming day.  Thwart evil, give grace, and let me bear fruit in keeping with true repentance.

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