Saturday, November 9, 2013

Sin, Repentance, and Suffering

A few days ago, I said a prayer asking God to convict me of my sin if I was truly committing a sin. I knew that until I was sure that my actions were sinful, I would keep doing something I was pretty sure I shouldn't be doing.  Today, I got my answer.  Seeing things as they really are hurt me, but it was a good kind of pain because it made me realize just how far I had been straying.  Also, because I now clearly see not only that it is a sin but the reason it is a sin and the harm it is causing others, I have the motivation I need to put aside the sin and no longer be bound by it.

I fell into the habit of gambling.  Gambling isn't a sin when you have all your needs met and you are not gambling large chunks of the money you have, but when you are gambling with money that you need for bills, it is a sin.  It's also a sin when you gamble with money that has been entrusted into your care but belongs to someone else. I told myself I was just borrowing the money, but when you borrow and don't pay back, that's stealing.

I realized today that the reason I was gambling so much was also a sin. I was gambling because I wanted a quick, easy, and painless solution to my financial troubles.  I was rejecting God's plan because that would require the cross, it would require waiting on Him to come to my aid in His own time and in His way.  I wanted solutions today.  However, my way led my family into the path of disaster, and only caused more problems.

I feel a great deal of shame over my sin, but I don't feel the guilt that I have been feeling over the past few months.  God doesn't want my guilt, and quite honestly the guilt you feel is often just the whip you use to flog yourself so that you can give yourself permission to continue to sin without having to make a change. No, God doesn't want my guilt. He wants me to give up my sin, to stop clutching it to my heart, to stop letting it poison my relationships and destroy my life.  

I am going to have to pay for the sins that I've committed.  Thank God that I can pay for them while I am still living and not have to work out the full amount I was due in eternity.  I am going to have to suffer some loss of people's esteem.  There are some who will look down on me for what I have done, and if so that is my due and it is for the best anyway. It is a reminder that no matter how much you may admire a fellow Christian or how well you may think of them, there are none of us who follow Christ who are without need of prayer.

I don't go to Church and do all the things that I do because I am so holy. I do them because I know just how broken and damaged I am, and how easy it is for me to do so much worse than even this that I have done without Christ in my life. If that makes me weak, so be it. I am weak, but I love a God whose strength is greater than my own and who can bring great good even out of the worst of my wickedness.

I am going to have to suffer because I haven't paid my bills and those are past due.  People I care about will have to suffer for my sins as well, including my son.  That hurts me more than words can say. I am supposed to protect him from harm and be the source of good things for him.  Instead, my rejection of God's plan has led me to being a source of his pain.

Today's words have been hard to write. It is hard to admit that I have fallen, and harder still to name the nature of my fall.  I write this, however, so that others who may struggle with this same sin in the quiet and the darkness may find the courage and the help they need to step forward and to give up their sin while they still have time to repent. God's graces are bigger than our worst sins.

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. - 2 Chronicles 7:14

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