a reflection by Kylen Soriano.
This summer has definitely been difficult. My family is moving houses, I’m in the process of changing churches, and I work 10 hours a day. I literally sit in front of a computer screen and analyze brains. I could even argue that I’m busier during these summer days than I was when studying for organic chemistry last semester. It’s been in this busyness — which seems to be my biggest shortcoming in the past few years — that God has revealed a crucial takeaway in my walk with Him.
Recently I’ve been getting very frustrated with myself and in my spiritual life. There have been many highs and lows this summer — from times where I’ve been refreshed and encouraged by the Word, to times where I’m too busy to hear from the Lord for days or even weeks at a time. I’ve caught myself thinking, doing, and saying things that I would normally never think, do, or say. It wasn’t until I met up with an old friend that the Lord really helped me see the root of this issue.
My friend from high school was my spiritual running partner, and one of the few I can trust to keep me accountable. We got to link up, and I opened up about how I was going through a season where I allowed my busyness, my ignorance, and my sin to keep me from getting into the Word. When he asked me why I haven’t been in the Word, I explained that it didn’t feel right. I explained how I had allowed my shame to really keep me from seeking the only One who could remove it.
He rebuked me on spot. I’ve had several close friends rebuke this struggle. However, he provided evidence with his rebuke. He explained how his time in a secular, state college also brought him to a point that he wasn’t proud of. He told me that it wasn’t until the point of brokenness that He realized He needed to come back. He explained how the only remedy was simply to allow the Lord to refresh and rebuild his spirit.
He reminded me that he’s had to have one of these “refreshers” many times, and that the Lord is longsuffering. He reminded me that there is no condemnation and that we are called to cast off our shame in Jesus’ grace. He reminded me that forgiveness is abundant, and that dwelling on failure, only keeps us from receiving the love that the Lord has to give. He reminded me that the Lord is mighty and readily able to do these things.
My issue here, was that I was getting caught up in “sin management.” That is, I tried to keep all of my failures/big mess-ups in check, and if I’m “good” for the day, then I’ve done a good job. I’ve been faithful.
The problem with this is that this isn’t how we as Christians are called to live. This isn’t how our faith is supposed to work. We as humans, literally have no power over sin. Our spirits are infused with a sin nature. How silly was it that I thought I could manage something that my earthly spirit craves? I thought that I could do something that only God has the authority to do. Jesus broke the hold that sin has on us, because of His life and sacrifice. The only answer here is and always has been the cross.
I like to journal my time in the Word because it allows me to re-process and look back for times like these. One of the passages I wrote some notes down about comes from Jeremiah 50:34. The Lord gave me this passage a few days before meeting up with my friend, and it became much more relevant after learning what I did.
The verse reads: “Their Redeemer is strong; The Lord of hosts is His name, He will thoroughly plead their case, that He may give rest to the land, and disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon.”
Here, God’s people are being oppressed and He is speaking to their captors.
Bingo! I was being oppressed by my own sin and unwillingness to accept His grace. I was captured in my own struggles. I was trying to plead my own case. I was looking for rest, by running away. I was fighting unwinnable battles because I was trying to do it alone.
The reason my sin management doesn’t work is because the action only works as well as I am able to keep myself from doing bad things. I clearly am not good at that, and as a result, my shame kept me from seeking the answer to my problem. Sin management literally pushed me further from the solution.
It isn’t until I surrendered these battles, until I admitted that I am weak and inept, until I allowed the Lord to plead my cause, did I truly recognize that sin management doesn’t work. Then, I was able to see the true, free grace and redemption that the Lord is willing to give to all.
If there are areas in your life that you feel have been static, have always seemed like an endless stair-master, I’d encourage you to seek the Lord. You may be trying to plead your own cause. You may be trying to seek an incorrect solution. You may be fighting a battle that you cannot win.
Take my word, let the most powerful Fighter, the most righteous Judge, and the most loving and graceful Father, take this one [and all the ones after that, too].