I took a book to read in the car trip for Thanksgiving. (Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard) I only got one full chapter read. But in that chapter the author spoke about how when Christians speak about being "broken" so often we are talking about what others have done to us, not what our own sin has done to us. I realized that it's easier to blame than to accept our responsibility for our own mess.
So, let's just put it all out there. I was raised in the church. Attended four times a week as a child and helped out in VBS as soon as I could. Put my children in church within the first few years of them being born. Was in charge of a women's ministry, and an outside women's bible study group. And yet, I have denied Christ, lived wrapped up in religiosity, chased idols, and struggled with having a regular prayer/Bible/study time. I have been filled with joy, love, peace, and bitterness, anger, hurt. I have chosen not to forgive, not to love, not to help. I have reached out, made things worse, and made a mess.
Because that's me. A mess.
When my defenses flare, when my lack of trust rises, when my recall is too detailed it is me in my flesh. I realized that all the bitterness, hurt, anger, and pain I still carry with me like some badge was paid for on the cross. I don't have to carry it around any longer, and it doesn't protect me anymore. It only slows me down. It is my own burden created by me hurting me and others.
But for the Grace of God.
God's grace is why there is anything within me that is worthwhile. God's grace is why I can get up in the morning with any hope. God's grace is why I can try again. And it doesn't come easy to me. No, if I try on my own I fail every time, but God's grace steps in and empowers me with His strength and that's how His love can flow through me.
There is no check list for living a life for God. There is no certain start date you have to begin by. There is only getting up in the morning, and devoting each day to God. There is only choosing Him and letting Him work in us over and over and over.
Paul tries to tell us that several times, and sometimes we get it and sometimes we forget. But this post is here to remind us all: by God's grace we are what we are; His grace has had to work doubly hard within us and still does. But let's not allow that grace to work in vain. We will work hard to be who God is allowing us to be.