Tag Archives: belief

A Simple Yes or No

I was going over a conversation that I had with our home group the other day. I had been saying how it seemed to me that time at my current job was coming to an end and I was being asked (shoved, really) to move on. Move on to what, I wasn’t sure, but it just felt strongly that I was “done” in my current position.

“Maybe it’s time to quit,” came the general consensus of the group.

“Quit to what is my problem,” I answered, “I have no prospects, not even any leads.”

“But if you’re being called away from your current position,” they reasoned, “then God’s asking you for a reason. He may not even reveal the reason or direction until you take that first step of faith. And then, even if you’re reading it wrong, He’ll take care of you anyway. That’s his promise to you.”

I thought about that for a moment and gave what I thought at the time was my honest reply.

“I don’t know if I have that much faith.”
Continue reading A Simple Yes or No

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Really??!!

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you’ve asked for help only to be dropped squarely into the middle of circumstances that were just the opposite of what you’d asked for? Prayed for relief in times of trouble only to have more and more piled on? Found yourself in surroundings where all you could do was look up and go, “Really??!!”

Yeah? Me too.

Continue reading Really??!!

An Empty Parking Lot

I had a dream last night. I’m in an empty parking lot. It’s dark, damp and vast; as if it were night and had just rained. A single, lonely street light in the middle of the lot casts the only illumination through a seemingly endless gloom.  The asphalt is cracked and weathered, the lines chipped and faded.  Shallow puddles gather here and there, reflecting the light and sending it . . . nowhere.

I wonder to myself what it would look like if this empty parking lot were filled with all the people who have ever wondered about, doubted or questioned their faith, like I have. Slowly, people begin filing in, wandering out from the darkness to take their place under the light.  Hmm, I think; interesting but not really the reaction I was envisioning. But then another idea hits me.

What if the parking lot were filled with all the people I have ever wronged?

Instantly the empty parking lot is filled to capacity. I mean standing room only, wall-to-wall people.

Wow! Oooookaaayyy. Again, not quite the reaction I was envisioning. More like what I was hoping for the first time.

The subconscious is a funny ol’ thing, isn’t it?

Slowly, it begins to dawn on me.  Maybe I need to speak to these people; apologize to them for whatever offense I’d caused. I think, if I just had a podium or a big raised platform, I could address them all at once. But then I think, no.  I need to wade into this huge mass of people.  Let it/them surround me, overwhelm me.  Talk to each of them individually; find out what it was I did and offer my apologies personally, one-on-one. It’s a scary thought and my heart races.  I don’t want to do it, but feel it’s the only thing I can do to set things “right”.  Then, just as I’m about to do that, just as I take my first step off the platform and immerse myself in the crowd, I wake up.

I’m shaking, overwhelmed with emotion, fear and trepidation.

You know the strangest part, though?

I also wanted to go back!

I actually wanted to go back into that dream, into that parking lot, face all those people and somehow make amends.

Yet again, not quite the reaction I was envisioning.

The conscience is a funny ol’ thing, isn’t it?

Transgression

It’s easy to feel remorse for a transgression—a sin—the morning after you’ve spent a long night thinking about how stupid you were, how foolish you were when you, at the time, envisioned yourself so clever, so stealth. It’s easy to ask for God’s forgiveness in the midst of this remorse. You know, the old, “I’m so sorry that I screwed up. Please forgive me. It will never, ever, ever happen again.” You might even add, “. . . and this time I’m serious.”

You already know what’s going to happen; usually within days of your “great regret”.

During the temptation, during the “build up” to the actual transgression itself, that’s when it becomes the hardest. That’s when, even though your rational mind says, “maybe you shouldn’t be doing this”, emotion, desire, or good old-fashioned addiction takes over. The still, small voice gets shoved aside by the raging tide of excitement, desire and craving. You can surround yourself with helpful platitudes, little sayings that remind you of how you feel afterwards. It doesn’t matter. They’re just noise at that point. Your craving is in full force. The addiction rules.

Then it’s over. The craving is satiated, the desire fulfilled.

And the remorse sets in.  Almost immediately.  As you knew it would.

Yet you gave in anyway.

Remorse leads to regret. Regret leads to grief. Grief leads to self-loathing. Self-loathing leads to beseeching. Beseeching leads to buoyancy. Buoyancy leads to self-assurance.

But time passes . . .

Self-assurance leads to complacency. Complacency leads to boredom. Boredom leads to craving. Craving to . . .

Transgression.

Then you sit up for half the night wondering when this stupid, vicious cycle is ever going to end. Wondering why you cave into these useless temptations knowing full well there is no good within them. Wondering where your inner-strength is. Wondering where is, or if you even have, self-will.

And inevitably, if you’re a believer, wondering where God is.

It’s called the cycle of addiction.

Believers get the added bonus of the God card at no extra cost.

How do you overcome it?

You can’t.

Not on your own. And it’s more even than just God. You need people. You need to trust someone, anyone. You need to tell someone of your struggle. Odds are the person you tell will say, “Yup. Been there, done that.”

That’s what happened with me. It was actually surprising how “normal” my own addiction was. Here I thought it was just this big, secret thing that only I had ever struggled with. Yet someone else had gone through it before me . . . One of my pastors.

So, find someone, anyone.

One caveat . . .

I’d also like to tell you it goes away, but it doesn’t. You’ll struggle, you’ll stumble, and occasionally you will fall.

And with that fall will come another voice, different from the still, small inner-pleading that came before. This voice will tell you you’re not strong enough to overcome; that you have no willpower to resist; that you’ll always fall . . .

. . . that there is no one there to help you.

Giving in to that voice is the true tragedy in this whole vicious cycle. This struggle is even more difficult, at times, than the addiction itself; and easier to surrender to . . .

“You’re right.”

Two little words and the losses are so much greater than the remorse and grief of falling to temptation.  For with this little utterance you’ve lost hope.  Hope in yourself, hope in your overcoming, hope in finding relief, hope in a future and, ultimately, hope in God.

You see, you’re not just fighting an addiction here. You’re at war. Whether you believe in any kind of higher power or not, every soul that fails in hope is a casualty.

And that is a true, total and final loss indeed.

Job 6:11  What strength do I have, that I should still hope?    What prospects, that I should be patient?

Romans 5:3-5  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.