When we first accept Christ and we begin to address the sin in our lives, we can become frustrated quickly. Especially when our sin involves the use of substances, we may fall to the temptation a few times before we change our tactics and overcome it. It can really seem like we are doomed to relapse, falling back into poor choices and all the indignities that come along with addiction like a broken record playing a sad, bitter song.
Our friends and family, but more so ourselves it seems have a very difficult time offering forgiveness. It is hard to recognize success when it comes as a matter of days without using or a less destructive relapse, but none the less, these are also achievements along the road to a full recovery and ultimately to victory over addiction.
In Matthew 18:21-22, Peter asked a hard question of Jesus. he wants to know, straight from Jesus, how many times he should forgive someone who sins against him. Peter asks…”Seven times?” Jesus answers “No, not seven times, but seventy times seven.” Now I ask you, if Jesus said we should offer forgiveness to others so generously, why shouldn’t we offer it to ourselves as well? We come down on ourselves often times much harder than others would. We also do not have God’s vision into our situation. God knows. God knows what we need to know and experience in order to truly and completely overcome our sin. God knows that the world will throw a lot at us as we turn from sin and we need some training on how to navigate the course. Some of us, I dare say many of us, learn best when we experience all that comes along with mistakes. Even in the darkness and confusion of the worst parts of our lives, God is there. He open our eyes and our hearts to see and understand bits and pieces he will sew together later in our life. Still, finding yourself back at a place you feel you have already been and doing the things you have tried so hard not to do can feel like a broken record. People around you will say it and you will also believe that your life is like a broken record, repeating the same sad song again and again.
Repetition is often times our friend when we are learning and hardship and discomfort are good teachers. How else to we develop the desire to do or be different. A long, hard road leaves us stronger, more enduring and with a different character than we began our journey. It helps us get a handle on our abilities and our limitations and helps us understand that we need God to whip the sin in our lives. Addiction is a wicked beast and we are poorly armed to defeat it alone, but God is good and in his faithfulness, has allowed our path to instill within us some of the knowledge and experience necessary. It is the frustration of hearing a record over and over that we finally decide to make a different selection. We can choose to go from a life that resembles a broken record to a life in which we are breaking records.
We begin breaking records the moment we decide not to commit a particular sin again. Maybe we find ourselves falling into the behavior again, but we managed to NOT do it for a whole day, or a whole week, a whole month and on and on, each step is breaking the previous record. Before you know it, the song has changed and it is more hopeful than bitter and we see the blessing God is providing for us. Mysteriously, we have found something in us that wasn’t there before and that something was exactly what was necessary to overcome our sin. It happened when we asked God to take charge. That something is the Holy Spirit and it makes all the difference. It is God speaking inside us. It offers us wisdom and strength when we don’t quite have what we need. It speaks in us over our own voices and bodies that would lead us back into old patterns. It is what we didn’t have before and it will be there when we need it each step along the way. It reminds me of a story I heard once about a butterfly.
The story of the butterfly
A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to squeeze its body through the tiny hole. Then it stopped, as if it couldn’t go further. So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bits of cocoon. The butterfly emerged easily but it had a swollen body and shriveled wings. The man continued to watch it, expecting that any minute the wings would enlarge and expand enough to support the body, Neither happened! In fact the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around. It was never able to fly. What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand: The restricting cocoon and the struggle required by the butterfly to get through the opening was a way of forcing the fluid from the body into the wings so that it would be ready for flight once that was achieved.Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. Going through life with no obstacles would cripple us. We will not be as strong as we could have been and we would never fly.
Sometimes, the hardships serve a greater purpose that we do not understand and yet every time we turn to God and ask for his help and lean on his love and understanding, our faith and hope grows along with our strength. It is not necessary that every time we fall to a sin replays our sad record of shame and sorrow. Instead, we get up, glean from our circumstances what God would have us to see and learn and proceed doing it a little better, a little longer breaking records every step of the way.
As always, thank you for reading and please respond to this post in the comment section. Please check out the rest of Trinity Life Ministries new webpage, Facebook page and follow us on Twitter and Pinterest. God bless you and keep you~ Bradly