Monday, September 23, 2013

Name and Claim It

A little over a month ago, I hurt my wrist exercising. I was training for a very important fitness test. I had to crank out those push-ups. It was do or die. So when my wrist started hurting, I ignored it. It was inconvenient. Why let it stop me from accomplishing my goal?

I kept working out. It kept hurting. Soon, I had no choice but to acknowledge it. The pain a "little sprain" was causing me was too much to ignore. And now here I am, more than a month later and worse off than when I started. I have to wrap my wrist for practice as it practically cuts off my circulation. That's no fun. I have to do "wrist strengthening exercises," (who has time for that?), and, worst of all, I can't practice playing the ukulele anymore. Yes, that's right. My current joy in life has been taken from me.

Funny, isn't it, that I ignored the sprain so I could get better at push-ups, and now as a result, I am unable to do even a single one.

So, my wrist isn't that big of a deal. It's inconvenient. That's it. However, sin...sin IS a big deal. And really, sin's a lot like a little wrist sprain.

It usually starts off small. We mess up once or twice, and as a result, we feel sore a bit. But then we ignore it. It's just a little sin.  Maybe we do so because we think it's too small, too unimportant. Maybe we think that it won't get in the way of our quest toward Heaven. What's one little sin in the grand scheme of things? We've got work to do. We can't stop and spend forever fixing one silly flaw.

This approach causes the situation to snowball. We sin a bit more, and this time, the effects hit us harder. A little soreness eventually escalates into sharp, shooting pain. This pain is so severe that often we are confronted with the realization that we have no choice but to acknowledge it.

That's when we've got to come to God, our "doctor" or "trainer." He sits us down and asks us to identify the problem. Then He gives us a plan to fix it.

But the thing is, we've let the sin grow so much by now that it won't be easy to remove. What could have been a quick fix at the start of the issue is now a lengthy process. The sin, and its resulting pain, has been ingrained in us by now. It is tattooed upon us, and it's no easy process to rid ourselves of its mark. It is robbing us of our joy in life. We can't enjoy whatever our "ukulele" is in life because we've let it get this far. We can't be happy because this sin has taken over our very being.

But luckily for us, God gives us a chance to come clean, to start over.

Reconciliation. Our God is a God of mercy. He forgives us, but we must reach the point where we want this forgiveness.We must be ready to forgive ourselves. And, most difficult of all, we must be willing to become vulnerable, to admit that we messed up, and to bear our sins.

This vulnerability is difficult. Who likes admitting we've messed up? But it's necessary. It's necessary to stop the cycle, the cycle in which we sin and ignore it and ignore it and ignore it until it is all we can think about. Until it gets to the point that the sin is too great and the pain too sharp to ignore.

No one wants to reach this point. Trust me.

Unfortunately, however, many of us will. And when we do, it's up to us to dig deep and bring our sins to the table. We've got to name and claim them if we want them to go away. Ignore them, and we end up chained to them.

Connections made in string are much easier to break than connections made of chain.

So, whatever the sin--big or small, new-found or years in the making--I encourage you to name and claim it and to stop it at its roots before these roots become too big to remove.Though you may need to dig deep and risk opening yourself up to God, I have no doubt that this is the only way to get better. This is the only way to find the strength to pick yourself up and start climbing toward the goal again.

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